How DNA Testing Works

DNA testing is fast, simple and painless. A special swab, similar to a Q-tip but much larger in size, is used to gently collect skin cells from the inside of the cheek. The swab, called a buccal swab, may look like a cotton swab but it is actually made of a special material that captures the cells needed for testing, so you do not need to push or rub hard. A simple sweep across the inside of the cheek is sufficient.

DNA can also be collected from a blood sample. If you prefer, we can perform a safe and quick blood draw to collect samples for testing.

DNA is inherited from both parents. It’s unique to everyone, just like your fingerprints. When attempting to determine paternity, a child’s DNA will be compared to that of the alleged father which means his DNA will also need to be collected.

DNA testing isn’t just used to determine paternity. It can also be used to determine maternity or birth parents in the cases of adoption. Testing can determine a familial link between children and grandparents or between siblings and can even be used to trace genealogy and your ancestry. Collecting and testing DNA from hair, blood or other body fluids is also frequently used in criminal cases to confirm the perpetrator of a crime.

Once the DNA is collected, the swab is placed in a sealed tube to prevent the sample from being contaminated. The swab or sealed blood sample is then immediately transported to a lab for testing where the DNA will be extracted from the cells collected and measured. The samples from a child and parent will be compared to determine a potential match.

You can collect DNA samples at home and send them to a lab on your own as part of a DIY kit. We provide DIY DNA collection kits which you may purchase in the privacy or our office, versus in the busy checkout line at the drugstore. Our at-home kit is also less expensive than kits you may find in the store. Keep in mind that any results you acquire on your own using an at-home DNA testing kit will not be admissible in court. If you may ever need to file a lawsuit to determine paternity or to be granted child support, social security or even to change a name on a birth certificate, you will need a legal DNA test.

Samples for a legal test can be collected in our office or in the comfort of your own home or office with our mobile testing service. Legal testing establishes a Chain of Custody with appropriate and admissible documentation. This means samples were obtained legally, and by an impartial third party. Individuals tested are positively and correctly identified with a government issued ID as well as photographed and fingerprinted and the samples are carefully tracked through the entire DNA testing process.