One way in which the technology is being utilized is as an investigative tool for people who have been adopted, know little about their birth parents and would like to be reunited with them and their other lost relatives. Every year in the US many thousands of children under the age of 4 years are adopted. A good proportion of them have no recollection of their parents and no way of getting in contact.
Depending on the date the adoption took place and the local state laws in place at the time, adoptees may have no conventional way to find their birth parents because adoption records are often sealed and legally inaccessible. Similarly, it could be that you have a parent who was adopted and you would like to discover your missing bloodline to uncles, aunts and cousins. If this is your situation then the DNA services described at How to Find New Family Members, particularly autosomal SNP analysis could provide fruitful information and a place to start.
Even if you don’t get any close leads at first some may well turn up in the future as more people get tested and their DNA results end up on the same database(s) that you are a part of. These services are getting ever more popular. Apart from the fact that the ancestry business in general is booming, prices are coming down, the technology has improved and more people are becoming aware of what DNA tests can do for them. Also, DNA testing companies encourage adoptees to get tested, Family Tree DNA, for example, offer a discount for adoptees.
Another good approach is to utilize the association of the Y chromosome to surnames (see Investigating The Origins Of Your Surname). Y-STR testing can help male adoptees discover a group of surnames that are likely possibilities for the surname of their birth parents, potentially a fantastic clue and a great help. (Unfortunately for women this is not an option unless you were co-adopted with a brother and he is able to take the test for both of you.) Y-STR testing can also help if paternity was the result of a fleeting encounter with uncertain information about the father’s name or if pregnancy was achieved through sperm donation. Although the hereditary linkage of surnames to the male line is not maintained in some circumstances and can occasionally be misleading, depending on the test you take as many as a third will receive strong information about their genetic surname and many others will get a small group of names that are a good bet. If you have a possible surname that you have heard through word of mouth or uncertain sources, the Y-STR test is often great for checking if this information is accurate and could thus confirm your surname.
There is an online community that helps adoptees in relation to what DNA testing approach to take and how to get the most out of your results at www.dnaadoption.com.