Israeli genealogy company offers free help to adoptees seeking birth families

Israel-based company MyHeritage announced Thursday that it is initiating a mass pro-bono campaign called DNA Quest to help both adoptees find their birth families and people find family members who had been adopted.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

MyHeritage is shipping 15,000 DNA kits for free, with priority given to those who cannot afford genetic testing. For now, it is only available to U.S. residents regarding adoptions that occurred in the United States, of which there are several million.

Considering the legal difficulties involved in opening adoption records, doing a DNA test via a cheek swab is a much simpler and faster way to search for relatives, especially since MyHeritage boasts a database of over 1.25 million people with over 40 million family trees, and access to an immense number of historical documents such as census, immigration, marriage and burial records around the world.

According to CEO Gilad Japhet, who established the company in 2003, MyHeritage is not simply about the bottom line. “We have a company culture of using our resources and technology for the greater good,” he said in a statement. “In this spirit we’ve initiated several significant pro bono projects, such as returning looted assets from WWII to their rightful owners and documenting family histories and traditions of tribal peoples who lack access to modern technology. DNA Quest is a natural extension of these efforts.”

One Israel-centered initiative of the genealogical online search company was a previous pro-bono project to reunite adoptees from the Israeli Yemenite community with their biological families, which according to MyHeritage, met with some emotional successes.

“There is a great need for a project like this — to help adoptees find their biological families — and we are the right company to take it on,” Japhet added. “We’ve already successfully reunited many families and are confident that through this initiative, together with a wonderful alliance of top experts, we’ll be able to utilize the power of genetic genealogy to help many more.”

People can apply for the free kit through April 30, at, and can expect results as early as July. The company has committed itself to enforcing strict privacy for all its clients, and will not sell genetic data without its owner’s explicit permission.