Today's highlighted conversation comes courtesy of ChicagoMama. She came across an article about a pair of girls named Mia, adopted by two separate families, whose families determined via DNA testing that there was a 85% probability that the two are at least half-sisters. The girls are assumed to be fraternal twins, and were introduced to each other on live TV.
ChicagoMama jumps right into the controversy (that's five links, folks!) about sibling searches amongst the Chinese adoptive community, the question of what constitutes "proof" of such a relationship, the ethics of tossing it all out into the national media as was done, what happens if later testing shows that the putative relationship isn't there, and what it is that makes sibling relationships so important to certain folk. One of the problems is that Chinese populations can be quite homogenous--in other words, if your child was abandoned in a certain region of, say, Henan, it's quite likely that your child shares a large proportion of genetic material with almost everyone in that area.
I know of one "found" twin pair that seems really, truly the Real McCoy--the two are uncannily alike, and DNA testing said that there was a 97% probability that the two were fraternal twins. Another pair, written up in Good Housekeeping, were given a 96% probability that the two were fraternal sisters. The people involved in these groups all seem to have managed to keep up a very good relationship, making sure the girls are in contact via long visits on a regular basis.
There are email lists devoted to the subject--both a list of those who feel they have located siblings of their children, and a list of those who have signed up or are interested in joining a DNA bank in the hopes of locating such a sibling.
Brian Stuy of ResearchChina has a lot to say about the DNA testing. Some of the problems are that DNA testing needs parental DNA samples to be able to say much about the kids with real certainty. Identical twins (I assume) have DNA that matches pretty damned closely--they should be easy to identify. But otherwise, you start running up against that homogeneity.
Why do some people think their children are related? Well, if you've been around Asian folk, the old "all look same" ain't true any more. Out of hundreds and hundreds of pictures of adopted Chinese girls, I have seen one that made me gasp and think, "OMG! That girl looks so much like OmegaDotter it's amazing!" I did follow up on it...but the other girl, around the same age, had been abandoned thousands of miles away, in a different province. But maybe some see resemblances that aren't there, and maybe some see resemblances that are there.
If they do think the children are siblings, why is it important?
It's a good philosophical question. Aren't we, as adoptive parents, supposed to be trumpeting the "as good as the Real Thing"-ness of adoption? Yet, when talking to adult adoptees who found out that they had siblings, one finds that many of them feel that they had a special bond with those siblings. There are some who say that if their parents had known that siblings were around but not pursued some way of keeping contact with them, and not let them know, they would have been extremely hurt.
ChicagoMama's point is that presenting it as a reality, when it's a probability, could be problematic (aside from the other issues, such as parading your kids around in the media for their first meeting as putative twins).
Check the conversation out.
I am following the Steorn story as it continues. Some people think it's an ALG (alternative life game). Some people think it's marketing for the Xbox. Some people think it's a marketing scam. SteornWatch did a live chat with the CEO, Sean McCarthy. The Guardian published an interview with him. All very interesting.