Search Tips for Adoptees and Birth Parents

I am Adopted and Want to Search for my Biological Parents

For an adoptee searching for their family, the first thing you need to do is try to find as much information as you can from your adoptive parents.

  • any paperwork they might have from your adoption
  • legal paperwork
  • final adoption decrees
  • memories of communication

As an adoptee, you will want to see if you can find:

  • the agency that facilitated the adoption ( many agencies keep their own records and have their own procedures involved for reunions, so they are a good place to start an adoption search)
  • the lawyers who did the paperwork ( again, sometimes they actually have records on hand and names)
  • the maternity home that your mother might have been at… this might be buried in the adoption papers work but can help.

the state where the adoption occurred, as well as the state your birthmother was from, and the state you were born in. You will also want to find out as many tiny rumors and bits of information as you can. Start with people who might have been confidants of your parents at the time; grandparents, siblings of your adoptive parents, friends, etc. Let people know you need information and ask for help.

Use Reputable Adoption Registries for Searches

Your biological family might have begun searching for you and might have registered, so first Google search for your own information like “adopted girl 1-26-44” to see if someone is looking for you.

A must for any search:

  • The International Soundex Reunion Registry (http://www.isrr.net/) You HAVE TO FILL out the form and send it in by mail, but they are a very successful registry and  it is an active search registry. All non profit and run by volunteers, their sole purpose is  to help all separated family members find each other.
  • Also check and register at Adoption.com (http://registry.adoption.com/).

There are many other adoption registries online and are often listed by the states, so Google for those, too.

Adoption Searches at the Beginning: The Adoption Agency

Start Local: go to the agency and see what they say. Many adoption agencies do have protocol for searches such as mandatory counseling or fees for their services. Some agencies understand the need for adoptees to know their past and some are more interested in keeping your past a secret. Fill out what they offer you.  Put a letter in your file!

Information from the State Your Adoption was Finalized In

If your adoption was in: Maine, Alaska, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Illinois, or Alabama, then you can request a copy of your original birth certificate (OBC) from the state. Your OBC will have your birth parents names on it and from there your search is usually much easier. Always be aware, however, that it is not uncommon for names on the original birth certificate to be fraudulent         .  Other states have different “rules” for different adoptees: Delaware has some openness, Ohio & Massachusetts have “black out” dates so if you were born in certain years then you have no right to your birth certificate while other years you do.

Non-Identifying Adoption Information

If your adoption was in any of the other states  that have a blackout year, then you can request “non- identifying” information about your adoption. They let you know what they know without releasing names or allowing you access to your birth certificate.

Passive Adoption Reunion Registries

Most states have a version of their own passive reunion registry. They do not have  very good success rates,as they are underfunded and under manned, but sign up.

Remember that often much of the information that you think you know is wrong including:

  • Your Birth date: depending on when you were born even this got changed at time.
  • Where you were born: often the city was changed to your adoptive parents are.
  • Your birthmother and birthfather’s age, occupation etc.

Be open to “maybes” and “almosts”. They may be important clues.

Try Using an Adoption Search Angel

Adoption search angels are people who search for others lost through adoption out of a desire to help others. . Since they have worked on  many personal searches, they tend to be really great researchers. Once you have non-identifying information or some serious clues, don’t hesitate to ask for help.  A professional adoption search angel is a miracle worker. Many can be found on Facebook.

Prepare for the Emotions of an Adoption Reunion

You need to know there will be many emotional ups and downs during an adoption search and possible reunion. Read adoptee blogs and read blogs and stories from the birthparents point of view, too.  Your adopted parents might or might not understand why you are searching for your biological family.  Your birth family might not be what you expected. If things don’t go well, you may find yourself trying to  understand why your mother won’t met you.

It is very important to have the support of others who understand what you are going through. While you are searching for your family, consider joining an online or in person adoption support group and reading the stories of others who searched.

And remember, don’t give up.

Never surrender.

5 comments

  1. I was adopted and have ran circles trying to get any information from dhs. I am going to find them one of these days.

  2. was adopted 50 + years ago. Catholic charties turned records over to dhs, i use to think they were there to help people. now i believe they work for a pay check and aim to further put adoptees in depression and pain. the system is wrecked with hurtful human beings

  3. New book called “Separated Lives” is a true story about a baby boy being adopted and years later a fascinating journey to search for his birth parents. Available from Dorrance Publishing, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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