Princeton, NJ, Aug. 26, 2004 - Orchid BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ORCH) today announced that it has signed an agreement with the Kinsearch Registry to provide genetic testing services to create DNA identity profiles for registry participants. The Kinsearch Registry was established by the Center for Information and Research on Adoption, Inc. to help adoptees identify and locate biological siblings and other birth family members. This registry is believed to be the first of its kind specifically focused on using genetic profiles to reunite siblings following adoption.
Under the terms of the agreement, Orchid will analyze samples submitted by participants and run the resulting DNA identity profiles against profiles in the participant database to identify any “matches.” The Kinsearch Registry will inform each participant of the initial search result as well as about any subsequent match as additional participants join the Registry. Counselors are available to Registry participants to help guide and support them during the search process and with family reunification in the event a match is found. Orchid will confidentially and securely maintain the genetic profiles in a permanent database. Participants may request that their profile be withdrawn from the Registry at any time. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Genetic identity testing is increasingly being used by individuals to confirm relationships, and we are pleased to have been selected by the Kinsearch Registry to play a critical role in this pioneering initiative designed to help unite both child and adult adoptees with their biological siblings,” said Paul J. Kelly, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Orchid. “This agreement speaks to our strong reputation for quality DNA testing and illustrates how we are leveraging our established market position to capture new segments of genetic identity testing, while providing a valuable service to adoptees and their families.”
The Kinsearch Registry will initially include adoptees from China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea, which are the countries that represent the largest sources of international adoptions. Other countries that are significant sources of foreign adoption are expected to join over time, and discussions with several are already underway.
“Siblings adopted by foreigners are often adopted and relocated from their homeland separately, yet many of these adoptees want to be able to find their biological brothers and sisters as they grow older,” said Barbara Rappaport, Director of the Kinsearch Registry. “This new service, which enables siblings to be matched solely on the basis of DNA, is a groundbreaking initiative in the international adoption community, and we seek to provide a worldwide database through which biological relatives separated by circumstances may easily, reliably and inexpensively find one another and be reunited.”
Rappaport continued, “We are pleased to have formed an alliance with Orchid, which has a reputation for providing accurate, reliable results and adhering to the highest standards, for the creation and maintenance of our Registry database. In addition, Orchid shares our commitment to providing international adoptees a heretofore unavailable opportunity to find members of their birth families wherever they are in the world.”
A total of 21,616 foreign-born children were adopted by U.S. citizens in 2003, with 75%, or 16,186 of them coming from China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea, the four countries included in the database currently maintained by the Registry. This data is based on information published by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, and the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.
The Kinsearch Registry is currently finalizing its website, www.kinsearchregistry.org, for launch within the next few weeks.
About the Kinsearch Registry
The Kinsearch Registry was formed, after consulting with experts in bioethics, gene banks, and adoption counseling, by the Center for Information and Research on Adoption, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to furthering adoption and an understanding of the adoption experience. Many adoptees experience an emotional, psychosocial or medical need to locate members of their biological family as they grow older, a quest made especially difficult by their movement to another country after adoption. Those adoptees often have no information on the identity or present location of their birth parents or other family members. Through the Registry, adoptees will have the opportunity to contribute a DNA sample that will be profiled and entered into a database specific to their country of origin. Participants pay a one-time fee to cover the cost of the DNA testing, banking and the program’s expenses, and will be notified if a match is found with existing or future Registry participants. Because the process of locating birth family members can be profound, emotional and complex, the program provides the assistance of professional counselors to assist participants who are matched in understanding the significance of the test results and in preparing for contact with their newly-identified biological relative. Participants may withdraw from the Registry and DNA database at any time.