Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling


School of Medicine

First Advisor

Whitney Dobek


Public awareness of the role of genetics in disease continues to expand along with the use of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC-GT). One subset of customers taking advantage of the growing DTC-GT market is adoptees. Prior research has shown that adoptees appear to be more motivated than non-adoptees to learn about their genetic disease risk but have similar responses to health-related information acquired through DTC-GT. In this exploratory qualitative study, fourteen adoptees were asked about their motivations for pursuing DTC-GT; satisfaction with results; emotions throughout the process; and interest in meeting with a genetic counselor. Motivations for pursuing DTCGT fell into three categories: 1) identity-seeking, 2) a desire for health information, and 3) general curiosity. Adoptees reported a variety of emotional responses to DTC-GT but had more profound emotional reactions to ancestral information, related to both ethnicity and biological familial connections. Finally, the majority of adoptees found value in meeting with a genetic counselor, either for themselves or for their family given certain circumstances. This study highlights adoptees’ experiences in their pursuit of genetic information. By understanding this population’s journey with DTC-GT, genetic counselors and genetics professionals can be better equipped to address the concerns and emotions of this population that is receptive to the idea of genetic counseling.


© 2017, Anna Childers