What You Need to Know if Adopted and Searching for Birth Parents(and visa versa )
Please do note: I am NOT a searcher. My skill set is more along the lines of promotion, social media, SEO, and internet tools, and facilitating connections between people. Like a tour guide to AdoptionLand. So I can tell you how, I can tell you who to get in touch with, I can give you links; happily, all that information on Adoption Searches that I would share with you if you ask me for help, is right here in this post.
Get the Information from the State Your Adoption was Finalized Inadoptee rights legislation and the laws have changed. Even if you have been denied access to your birth certificate it the past, check into it again. Your OBC will have your birth parents names on it and from there your search is usually much easier!
Other states have different “rules” for different adoptees: Illinois you can also request info, Delaware is pretty open at age 21 UNLESS there is a contact veto on file , Massachusetts has “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! Other states have no previsions at all to allow adoptees to ever access their original birth certificates. Doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way the laws are.. If you think it sucks then help support the Adoptee Rights Demonstration!(http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com)
For an updated list to check your state laws and what you need to do, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, usually keeps their master list, Access to Adoption Records, pretty up to date. To find your particular states forms, you can refer to our “Quick List” of state links. OBCs do come from the offices of Vital Records. Follow the directions, fill out the forms and pay the small fee.
Even if your state still refuses you OBC access, you can still request “non identifying” information about your adoption. Basically, they let you know what they know without releasing names or allowing you access to your birth certificate. This can range from the really bland “mother white age 17 brown hair of Scottish descent” to something a bit more interesting, but keep in mind, it does not have to be 100% the truth.
Use our “Quick Links to Adoption Information List“. Go to the website of the state you were born in. Follow the directions, fill out the forms and pay the fee.
No matter HOW you plan to search get your state non-ID first.
Gather Existing File and Existing Information About the AdoptionNow is a good time to start prepping yourself for more information. Start by revisiting what you do know, what you have been told and what you think you remember. Start asking questions and making direct inquires about your adoption.
As an Adoptee, 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 that all happened: you’ll be looking for the state your birthmother was from, the state you were born in, the state the adoption happened, etc.. sometimes there are a whole bunch of state lines crossed!
siblings of your adoptive parents, friends, etc. Let people know you need information and take it all in!
Ask for help, but be ready to hear a bunch of annoying assumptions and bits of advice. Ignore the stuff that gets you down and gather the information!
Fill out what they offer you, put a letter in your file, play nice, but watch out and don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
Some agencies are great and really do help and some are more interested in keeping you in your place of ignorance. The bottom line is you really cannot trust most of the professionals in adoption well meaning or not. Remember that this is YOUR life and YOU are the professional of your own experience.
Register for your States Passive Adoption Reunion Registry or ProgramMost states also have some kind of passive reunion registry as well. They don’t have very good success rates since they are underfunded and under manned in general, so again, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but sign up!
Many states also have “unofficial” registries and then email lists and “search angels” and more folks that can help you.. so Google is now your best friend and you need to find those places online! There are incredible people online who will help and how have great methods and information as well.
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 times
- Where you were born: often the city was changed to your adoptive parents area
- Your birthmothers age, occupation etc.
- Same with your birthfather, etc.
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 the BEST since it is an active search registry.. meaning they will actively compare and try to find a match! All non profit and run by volunteers, they have no ulterior motivation except to help all separated family members find each other.
The other one that is really good is at Adoption.com (http://registry.adoption.com/). I don’t really like their politics of adoption, BUT it IS a good registry that you can search and add your information. Lots of people have found others there, so it is good to keep updated, etc.
G’s Adoption Search Registry ( http://www.gsadoptionregistry.com) has also been around forever, so worth checking out as well.
There are many many more adoption registries; you can just google them and go crazy or start with this list. For your own sanity, DO create a method of keeping track of where you have checked and where you have registered. I personally am huge fan of creating Excel spread sheets to quickly copy and paste urls and notes when researching anything online. You might also consider having a word document made with your basic info on it so you can just copy and past the required information over and over again.
Get Help When Stuck on an Adoption Search
Make sure you know what to expect form a Search Angles Help and how to best help them help you in an adoption Search!
Click here to find out more about using Search Angels and where to find one to help you with an Adoption Search.
Facebook page made dedicated to the adoption search. The same adoption search that I witnessed in real time, became this article on I found my own son using MySpace as well with a whole group of other adoptees, Birthmothers and adoptive moms helping me! By opening up your search on social media you open yourself up to the many eyes and minds and Googling fingers.. and the hive mind is incredible! It’s a way not to be so isolated and alone and get the support you need during the emotional journey.
Top get the best results form an online search, please check out How to Use Social Media for An Adoption Search
Also, consider creating an “Adoption Search Party” on Facebook. For advice, please check out this great blog post by Lynn Grubb: Looking for your birth parents? Create a Facebook Search Party!
For all adoptees and others with unknown parents and/or grandparents, autosomal DNA testing is recommended. For autosomal DNA testing, start with either one of the big three. If at all possible, test at all three companies in order to “fish in all three ponds” for close family matches.
For the basics to get started on a DNA Testing for an Adoption Search, click here.
- 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 and you will need to understand why your mother won’t met you.
- There are many cases of Secondary Reunion Rejection for Adoptees searching, please be prepared.
- Please ensure that you are AWARE of the RISKS of Genetic Sexual Attraction! Learn about and understand GSA BEFORE a Reunion. It is normal and the damage and confusion are avoidable if one is aware!
Find an Adoption Support SystemStart gathering together the people who “understand” and will support you . An adoption search both emotionally exhausting and wonderful at the same time. It’s a good time now to find and adoption group for support. The bonus of sharing an adoption reunion with others in adoption is that we know you are not crazy as we all lived it too.
Not all these groups are for adoptees only, so take a peak and find one that feels good. It’s also not a bad idea to see if you can find a local group that physically meets once in a while.
It can take years to find your birthmother and birth families, or it can takes days, but you never know until your try.