In scrolling through MyHeritage‘s blog yesterday, I saw the following post: https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/03/dna-quest-initiative-is-extended/.
I blogged about the original initiative in March 2018: MyHeritage Giving Away 15,000 DNA Kits to Adoptees.
The primary goal is to help adoptees who have not tested with any DNA companies. If an adoptee tested with another DNA company (23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTree DNA, etc.), they can do a free limited transfer to MyHeritageDNA.
We are happy to announce that we are extending DNA Quest — our pro bono initiative to reunite adoptees and their biological families through free genetic testing.
In March 2018 we launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative in which we pledged to donate 15,000 DNA kits to adoptees and those seeking to reunite with family members who were placed for adoption. Within a few months, all the DNA kits we allocated for this initiative were sent out. Applicants opened up to us to share their emotional stories of searching, their hopes for future reunions, and the sense of belonging they felt thanks to their participation in DNA Quest. Our hearts rejoiced when some participants of DNA Quest were blessed with the fulfillment of their lifelong dream of reuniting with their family thanks to the free DNA tests we gave them. DNA Quest. New successes are still occurring as our DNA database grows.
Following the success of the initiative, we have decided now to extend DNA Quest and donate 5,000 additional MyHeritage DNA kits, for free, to eligible participants.
Millions of people around the world are adopted, and many are searching for their biological parents or siblings. Currently available avenues for searching include formal adoption records, adoption agencies, and genetic genealogy. Formal adoption records are often unavailable or difficult to obtain, and research can be frustrating, costly, and time-consuming. Meanwhile, every year some adoptees and their biological relatives pass away, missing the chance to reunite — so this search is time-sensitive. Fortunately, genetic genealogy opens new doors in the search for relatives and reunions can sometimes happen in the blink of an eye: all it takes is a single match. MyHeritage believes everyone should be able to access this valuable technology.
With one of the fastest-growing DNA databases in the industry, currently numbering 2.5 million people worldwide (double the size when we launched DNA Quest one year ago), the largest database that accepts free uploads of DNA tests taken on other services, and a compassionate spirit, MyHeritage is uniquely positioned to help people find their biological relatives.
How to apply
Adoptees and family members searching for their biological relatives can apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2019. Participants will be selected, and their free DNA kits will be shipped to them by June 16, 2019. Results are expected as early as August 2019. The DNA Quest website includes additional information about the initiative and a detailed section with answers to frequently asked questions.
Those who have already taken a DNA test with another company are invited to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage for free and participate in this initiative as well.
As supply is limited, preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing, and to those who sign up first.
Due to the very large number of applicants in the first phase, we had a waiting list of several thousand people by the time registration closed in May 2018. Those who were waitlisted are now invited to return to the DNA Quest website and submit a full application as soon as possible while DNA kits last. New applicants are warmly welcome.
Eligible DNA Quest participants will receive a free MyHeritage DNA kit, which consists of a simple cheek swab. DNA samples are processed at MyHeritage’s CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited lab in the U.S. and results are available 3–4 weeks after the sample is received. The privacy of all applicants and participants will be strictly enforced. The DNA is owned by the participants and not by MyHeritage. The company has never sold genetic data and has pledged to never do so in the future without users’ explicit consent. DNA Quest is strictly a pro bono project.
Expert Advisory Board
To ensure that participants receive support on their journey to find their birth families, we formed a top-notch advisory board for DNA Quest comprised of world-class adoption experts and genetic genealogists. The board aims to provide guidance to MyHeritage and the participants and will continue to do so throughout the next stage of DNA Quest.
DNA Quest Success Stories
Many participants from the first phase of DNA Quest have already reconnected with their biological families and now look forward to bright futures together. Here are just some of the amazing reunions that have taken place:
- Mitch Yurkovich, a Michigan resident, and father of four, was adopted as a baby and was always curious about his biological family. He searched for them for many years. In turn, his biological parents always hoped that Mitch would find his way to them, having no knowledge of Mitch’s whereabouts due to closed adoption. Imagine his surprise when a DNA Match led him to his birth parents, who were still together, and who had married and had two more children! Mitch describes the moment he got the news of his DNA Match to his parents and siblings: “I began to shake, and couldn’t stop smiling! My heart started to race and I was utterly blown away! This was news better than anything in my wildest dreams… I had found my biological family!” Mitch’s story was featured on Good Morning America, including the special moment when Mitch met his mother, father, and siblings for the first time.
- Susan always wondered whether she had siblings somewhere out there. After receiving a free MyHeritage DNA test through DNA Quest, she discovered a half-brother, Terry, previously unknown to her. Both New Zealanders, Susan and Terry were surprised to learn that they live just an hour apart from each other. Without DNA Quest, the two may have never made this connection and found their long-lost family. Read Susan and Terry’s full story.
- When a MyHeritage user from Oklahoma – Kim Prather, 53 – heard about MyHeritage’s DNA Quest initiative, she couldn’t wait to apply. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her biological family and wanted more than anything to meet them. After contacting her DNA Matches, she was at last able to locate her birth family and reunite with her sister.
- Carlos Canas from Texas always knew he was adopted. He grew up as an only child, never knowing who his birth parents or brothers and sisters were. All that changed recently when Carlos, thanks to the free MyHeritage DNA test he received, was matched to his biological half-sister. Read the full story.
If you know anyone who may benefit from DNA Quest, please help by spreading the word on social media and include a link to the www.dnaquest.org website. And if you can benefit from this yourself, don’t hesitate to apply now.
The entire MyHeritage team is very excited to extend this pro bono initiative to help families reunite through the power of genetic genealogy. We look forward to the life-changing reunions that will continue to take place as a result of DNA Quest.
We hope to make this initiative a shining light for corporate philanthropy and an example to be followed by other commercial companies in their own lines of expertise, to help make our world a better place.
Apply for a free MyHeritage DNA kit at DNAQuest.org through April 30, 2019.