MyHeritage Offers Free DNA Tests to Help Reunite Separated Migrant Children with their Parents

The following announcement was written by MyHeritage:

We have just announced that, following the recent separation of immigrant parents and children in the United States, MyHeritage is expanding its pro bono initiative, DNA Quest — which helps reunite adoptees with their biological families through DNA testing — to help those parents who were detained at the US border reunite with their children. We are pledging 5,000 additional free DNA tests for separated parents and children who are interested in this opportunity.

For the DNA kits to reach the affected people, MyHeritage has begun contacting relevant government agencies and NGOs that are able to provide assistance with distribution of the DNA kits — to parents in detainment facilities and to their children placed in temporary custody. MyHeritage is also calling the public to assist — anyone who can help with the distribution of the DNA kits and is in touch with the separated families is requested to contact dnaquestsupport@myheritage.com. The DNA results will be processed by MyHeritage and not shared with any third parties.

In recent months, the detention of migrant families involved divergent paths for parents and children, making it hard and sometimes impossible for each to track the other through the separate systems. Parents who crossed the border into the United States illegally have been placed in Department of Homeland Security detention, while their children were sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The children were subsequently placed in government facilities or foster care, resulting in separation from parents, who are often unable to locate or communicate with their children. In recent months, the ORR has not always been able to identify children on behalf of the parents searching for them and children are not always notified of their parents being deported, lessening the chances of the parents and children ever being reunited. DNA testing can accurately match between parents and their children, enabling parents to locate their children and reunite with them once the parents are released from custody or deported.

“In light of the humanitarian tragedy that has taken place, in which children have been separated from their parents, we have decided to rise to the challenge and take the lead in helping these families,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “By expanding our DNA Quest pro bono project to include families separated by the current U.S. border crisis, we hope to use the power of DNA testing yet again to do good, and to reunite parents and children who might otherwise never see one another again.”

In the first phase of its DNA Quest initiative to reunite adoptees with their biological families, MyHeritage pledged 15,000 free DNA kits to eligible participants. Following the close of applications on May 31, 2018, MyHeritage completed sending the DNA kits by June 6. Participants are in the process of receiving their kits, taking the tests and sending their samples to the MyHeritage DNA lab for analysis.

 

13 Comments

Thank you Dick for making this compassionate gift public. Congratulations to MyHeritage for helping in such a positive way to give some reconciliation to this tragic situation.

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How many parents and children will they find are not related?

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    We’ll just have to wait and see. At least the ones who ARE related won’t have to wait decades like the women of Argentina, many of whom are still searching for their “disappeared” grandchildren to this day.

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As a family genealogist I have been thinking about the possibility of the genealogy companies making free DNA testing available to reunite the families torn apart by the US government. Thank you My Heritage. This could be a challenge to other companies to do the same. How about Ancestry, 23 & Me …? All of the children and parents should be tested and records kept including any information the children, parents and people caring for them might be able to provide. The government agencies may not be capable of keeping these records but genealogists can. This is what we do. How can we help reunite these families? How can samples be gathered? Every day counts.

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Glenn why say something like that? It will be the same % as the general population I am sure.

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    Actually very few should be shown to be unrelated, as “cheaters” (if they exist) will not request the test. Unfortunately, there are likely to
    also be a few surprises where parents and children find out they are not who they thought, as happens in the general population as well. That would really be heart-wrenching.

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Elisabeth A Meier June 22, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Thank you so much My Heritage for this awesome decision to help out these people that this administration shamefully separated.

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Bruce Butterfield June 22, 2018 at 5:36 pm

I hope that the irony of this effort by a foreign-owned company, who seem more
sympathetic to the humanitarian facets of this situation than our own government, is somehow made plain to our senators and representatives who have the power to save the reputation of the United States as a worthwhile society if only they would look into their hearts instead of their petty party philosophies (and I mean those of both parties).

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    @Bruce Butterfield – Agree. There would not BE a humanitarian refugee crisis in Central or South America or in the Mideast if the US had not first meddled in those countries to initiate regime change in the first place. All it did was start guerrilla wars within those countries, and per the US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, ad passim, the US Congress cannot retaliate with a legal or constitutional war because the governments of those countries have not declared war against us, so Congress invented the illegal and unconstitutional AUMFs to fight their guerrilla wars (the US is financing both sides in some cases!). Nowhere in our founding document does it state that transferring powers of one branch of government to another is permitted, so a president sending the military hither, thither, and yon (79 countries is the last number I heard) is completely unconstitutional. BOTH Republicrats and Demopublicans are responsible for this mess; they’ve morphed into one political party of, by, and for the warmongering corporations and made the US Congress their employees to invent laws to make us pay for their follies as they make record-setting profits.
    Round and round it goes, and where it stops no one knows….

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A ray of hope in this otherwise terrible, miserable situation of incomprehensible cruelty.

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Congratulations and hurrahs to Heritage.
First positive action in this whole sordid affair.

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This article does not indicate the 23andMe tests are free (“donate” does not mean “free” in many cases), but it does talk about the ethical concerns involving DNA testing, lack of permission from parents to test children, government involvement since now the US government is the guardian for the minor children in custody, etc.

23andMe’s DNA kit offer for reuniting migrant families raises privacy concerns [June 22, 2018]
https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/23andMe-s-DNA-kit-offer-for-reuniting-migrant-13018584.php

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    The free DNA kits from MyHeritage are exactly that: 100% free.

    I suspect the same is true of the kits from 23andMe but I cannot find a reference to prove it. The article you referenced simply says, “A 23andMe spokesman said the program is in its early stages, and the company will provide more details when they emerge.” But I cannot imagine 23andMe would charge anything when their competitor is already doing the same thing free of charge.

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