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Tracing Roots: Genealogy and Adoption with Julie Dixon Jackson - Ep 92

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 05/08/2023

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More Episodes

If you're feeling the crushing disappointment and heartache of repeatedly hitting dead ends in your search for biological family despite exhaustive DNA testing and genealogy research, then you are not alone!

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Witness Julie's heartwarming tale of finding and reconnecting with her birth family.

  • Grasp the significance of genetic genealogy in uncovering one's heritage.

  • Examine the layered emotions and potential mental health challenges facing adoptees and their families.

  • Evaluate the ethical concerns tied to DNA testing and gaining consent during the search for biological kin.

  • Gather advice and best practices for adoptees venturing to locate their birth families.

My special guest is Julie Dixon Jackson, an empathetic and skilled genetic genealogist hailing from Southern California. As an adoptee born in Australia during the Baby Scoop era, Julie spent over two decades searching for her biological family. In this episode, she shares her expertise by helping fellow adoptees, NPEs, and donor-conceived individuals discover their origins through her company, CutOff Genes Investigations. Julie also hosts the CutOff Genes podcast, which delves into a variety of DNA-related topics, particularly in the context of adoption. Join Beth Syverson as she chats with Julie about the vital role genetic genealogy plays in uncovering family origins.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Searching for Biological Family
The search for one's biological family is a profound and often emotional experience. Adoptees may grapple with feelings of confusion, excitement, and anxiety as they embark on this journey. Patience, persistence, and resourcefulness are critical as adoptees navigate this path. The use of DNA testing and genealogical research has revolutionized this search and increased the likelihood of finding lost family connections. Julie Dixon Jackson's personal story, as shared in this Unraveling Adoption episode, demonstrates the determination and ingenuity needed to find her biological family. Despite facing numerous obstacles and uncertainties, Julie combined her skills in genetic genealogy with the use of DNA testing to progressively uncover her ancestry. Her experience serves as an inspiring testament to the power of persistence and the importance of seeking one's roots.

Learning About Her Family History
The revelation of one's family history is a life-altering experience, providing a newfound sense of identity, belonging, and context. Adoptees who delve into their biological roots often find answers to long-held questions and develop a deeper understanding of themselves. However, this journey may also unearth difficult truths or cast current family relationships in a new light. In this Unraveling Adoption episode, Julie Dixon Jackson recounts her experiences of learning about her biological family's history. She describes the emotional rollercoaster she went through while uncovering new information and making sense of her findings. Julie's story showcases the importance of resilience, perspective, and support as individuals learn about their family history and forge new connections. The insights and lessons gleaned from her journey can serve as guidance and inspiration for others embarking on a similar path.

 

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Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

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Support UnravelingAdoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption

www.UnravelingAdoption.com

 

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Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:01:07 - Julie's Adoption Story,
Julie Dixon Jackson shares her adoption story as a Baby Scoop era adoptee from Australia and discusses her journey to find her biological family, including the use of genetic genealogy.

00:04:00 - Effects of Adoption on Identity,
Julie talks about the effects of adoption on her identity and why she struggled with independence and self-soothing.

00:08:22 - Finding Biological Father,
Julie discusses her search for her biological father and meeting him in person.

00:12:10 - Realizing Truth About Biological Father,
Julie talks about realizing the truth about her biological father and how it explained certain physical traits and characteristics.

00:13:57 - Searching for Biological Family,
Julie discusses her background as an adoptee and her search for her biological family. She shares the challenges she faced, including limited information and uncooperative family members.

00:16:18 - Using Genetic Genealogy,
Julie discusses her use of genetic genealogy to identify her biological father. She talks about her process of tracking down potential relatives and using DNA testing to narrow down her search.

00:21:05 - Learning About Her Family History,
Julie talks about how her search for her biological family allowed her to learn about her family history going back to the 1700s. She discusses the importance of feeling connected to her past and having a sense of identity.

00:23:40 - Challenges of Being an Adoptee,
Julie discusses the challenges she faced growing up as an adoptee, including feeling disconnected and invalidated by her adoptive family. She emphasizes the importance of adoptive parents listening to their children and acknowledging their individuality.

00:26:39 - Pursuing Her Passion for Singing,
Julie talks about her passion for singing and how she was discouraged from pursuing it by her adoptive family. She shares her experience auditioning for a school musical and singing out loud for the first time, despite her family's disapproval.

00:28:20 - Early Life and Love for Music,
Julie Dixon Jackson talks about her childhood and her love for music. She shares her experience of performing in front of her friends and family and how it changed her life. She discusses how her parents didn't think she could make a career out of her singing.

00:33:21 - Genealogy Career,
Julie Dixon Jackson talks about her experience with genealogy work, which she started in her early 20s. She discusses how she got interested in it and how she started doing regular genealogy work. She talks about how DNA kits from companies like Ancestry and 23andMe have changed the face of being an adoptee.

00:38:54 - Challenges in Genealogy Work,
Julie Dixon Jackson discusses the challenges of genealogy work, including cultural taboos and legal restrictions in different countries. She talks about how it can be a long process and requires patience. She mentions how she continues to work on open cases and looks for new matches every day.

00:40:40 - Reuniting Adoptees with Biological Families,
Julie Dixon Jackson talks about her experience reuniting adoptees with their biological families. She discusses how many biological mothers have taken their secrets to their graves and how adoptees can feel emotional after a reunion. She shares her approach of trying to help with adoptees' emotional state after a reunion.

00:41:46 - Challenges with Private Investigators,
Julie Dixon Jackson talks about the challenges of working with private investigators

00:42:51 - Starting the Search and Writing a Letter,
Julie advises adoptees to start thinking about a letter they would like to write to their biological parents, assuming they may not hear back. She recommends being neutral and saying all the right things to make a good first impression, including being open to connecting but not insisting on it.

00:44:11 - Intermediary Services,
Julie helps adoptees write letters and finds where biological parents live. She can send letters using publicly-known addresses or as an intermediary for addresses she has access to as an investigator. This approach gives the biological parent an opportunity to calm down and engage with the letter at their own pace.

00:46:07 - Counseling Adoptees,
Julie advises adoptees to manage their expectations when searching for biological parents. There will be a honeymoon period if and when a reunion happens, but it will be a rollercoaster of emotions. Julie provides counseling and support for adoptees, taking calls and guiding them through the process. Most cases are solvable, but some are not due to endogamy, lack of matches or being from a different country.

00:49:01 - Understanding Cousin Relationships,
Julie clarifies that first cousin's children are not second cousins but first cousins once removed.