Using DNA to Find Birth Parents:
If you are an adoptee trying to locate biological family, you’ve probably found many websites full of adoptee resources, legal information, and even links to adoptee angels (volunteers who will assist in your search). These sites are a great place to start and with a DNA test, some patience, and a lot of luck, you may have an answer within a few weeks or months.
However, if your parents were children of 1st or even 3rd-generation immigrants, you may need more than luck to find answers. This site is devoted to the study of genetic genealogy as it relates to emigrants from the former Kingdom of Hungary and nearby regions. I’ve created this portion of the site to help children and grandchildren of those immigrants who, for one reason or another, were raised by adoptive parents.
According to the 1920 U.S. Census, 945,801 persons in the United States either had been born in Hungary or had Hungarian-born parents. Only a few short months after the 1920 census had been completed, the Treaty of Trianon took two-thirds of Hungary’s land and gave it to neighboring countries. This means, while you may have heard your birth father was Austrian or Slovakian, there’s a good chance his great-grandparents at one time identified themselves as Hungarian.
By the mid-1940s, many of the the children and grandchildren of those immigrants became a part of what is now known as the “baby scoop era.”
The Baby Scoop Era was a period in United States history starting after the end of World War II and ending in approximately 1972, characterized by an increased rate of premarital pregnancies over the preceding period, along with a higher rate of newborn adoption. From approximately 1940 to 1970, it is estimated that up to 4 million mothers in the United States surrendered newborn babies to adoption; 2 million during the 1960s alone. Annual numbers for non-relative adoptions increased from an estimated 33,800 in 1951 to a peak of 89,200 in 1970, then quickly declined to an estimated 47,700 in 1975.
Estimates put the number of persons of Hungarian descent living in the US today at just about 4 million. During the years 1944-1972, at least 3.5% of babies were placed into the homes of adoptive parents. Unregistered adoptions, or “black market” babies would make this number even higher.
Though it would be impossible to give an exact number, with the above statistics we can estimate the number of American-born adoptees of Hungarian descent living in the US today to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 70,000-140,000 people.
I created this portion of the site to help adoptees, but specifically to assist American-born adoptees whose DNA profiles suggest central European heritage. Making biological connections to people whose grandparents were born across the ocean requires a bit of extra effort and resources. I hope some of the information presented here proves useful in your search.
Because helping people is my main goal and the original purpose of this site, I will do my best to continue to add reference links and guides to help adoptees help themselves first. There is no “typical” parent search. Having parents of colonial-era ancestry tends to shorten the process a great deal, while recent-immigrant ancestry tends to lengthen the process. Finding your parents may take 5 hours, while someone else’s search may require 500 hours. In either case, I believe most people can do the bulk of the work themselves or with the assistance of one or more of their closest DNA matches.
However, if you do choose to pay someone to assist in your search, make sure they have experience in the geographic regions shown in your DNA and your matches’ family trees. If your adoption paperwork, for example, lists your father’s ethnicity as Portuguese and your DNA matches support this assertion, you’d be best served by someone who specializes in Iberian genealogy. My regions of specialty are Hungary (specifically western Transdanubia) and neighboring Burgenland, Austria. I have also have solved cases where the adoptee’s parents or grandparents were born in Italy, Croatia, Poland, and Germany. Additionally, I have solved many colonial-era lineage mysteries.
If you would like my personal assistance, I offer a free initial consultation which includes up to 2 hours spent reviewing your data. After that, I can provide an estimate of costs based on the difficulty level and amount of time needed to solve your case. Contact me for more information.
On that note, I introduce my work-in-progress step-by-step guide to finding your birth parent: