How Can an Adoptee Find Their Birth Mother or Biological Family?

Finding out who you really are is something that interests every adoptee. No matter how great their life is or how thankful they are to be adopted, the fantasy and curiosity is always there. Once an adoptee turns the legal age of 18, many do try to find their birth mothers or biological family. It can be an emotional roller coaster,but a rewarding one in the end.
Being an adoptee is difficult as you wonder for years who you really are. On the other hand, it is sometimes a blessing as well. Birthmothers place their children for adoption for various reasons; the most common reason is to give them a better life. As happy as adoptees are with their families, there is always that curiosity to know who you are and who you would have been. You may want to find your biological family because of medical reasons, major life changes, the death of your adoptive parents or just to see the likeness of your parents and any siblings. Whatever reason it is that you want to find them, there are steps you will have to take.

The search for biological parents and siblings is an emotional roller coaster. It is filled with highs and lows and can get very discouraging at the same time. During a search, many adoptees hit plenty of dead ends before they find a promising lead. It is important to realize that there are many different ways to continue the search.

Before you begin, it is very important to confront your adoptive parents about the information they have. Even in closed adoptions the adoptive couple is given non-identifying information or just general information about the birth family. Non-identifying information is just general information about ages, jobs, basic location of residence, if they had any other children and so on. Very rarely does any identifying information slip through. Your adoptive parents will probably have the most valuable information, since they were there first hand. In some adoptions of the 60’s and 70’s, some adoptive parents had the full names of the biological parents. This usually happened because of confidentiality slip ups on papers. If your adoptive parents have that information, it is important to start your search with that.

Write down all of the information you find outfrom papers, your knowledge and from your parents. Having all of this information organized and at your fingertips will help a lot.

Note: If your parents do not have non-identifying information, you can contact the state or Agency that handled your adoption. They will be able to provide you with the non-identifying information that can help you on your search.

If the agency that handled your adoption is still around, you can contact them to see if they can assist you in the search. These agencies are usually willing to assist you, however they may charge a nominal fee to aid in finding your biological family. They are the ones who would have the information in their files and they would be the most valuable asset after your adoptive parents.

There are many places online that you can register at to find your family. They are called Reunion Registries or Mutual Consent Registries. These registries may be run privately by an organization or also even by the state. You can easily find them online. They work by allowing each member of the adoption triad (birth family, adoptee and even adoptive parents) to register. When there is a match, the organization will make every attempt to validate the claim and contact the parties involved.

There are also various free message boards, support groups and mailing lists you can join to post some basic information about your adoption. However, these are free and to be used with caution. It is advised not to post too much information to make yourself vulnerable. Just post enough that may assist you in finding a match. Every lead is a lead worth looking into.

If you continue to hit dead ends, you can seek the help of a confidential intermediary. Most states have these intermediaries to assist in the search. The CI has complete access to the state files and the information that would otherwise be sealed and unable to be accessed. This service does come with a substantial fee, but payment plans are usually able to be worked out.

When the CI finds out any information or finds the individual, they would contact the birth mother, birth father or sibling to find out more information. The individual does have the right to allow or refuse contact with the adoptee. If the birth mother or father refuses contact, that would be the end of the search for the CI. If they allow the contact, the CI will seek a court allowance to pass on the contact information to the adoptee.

If your state does not have a CI, there are private investigative that specialize in adoption searches. This may take a bit longer since they do not have complete access to sealed files. They do, however, have access to a more extensive database that will assist them in finding leads to further research. Private investigative can cost in upwards of $1,000 and usually do not have an option for a payment plan. Definitely read up and find more information about the PI you decide to use. Some will not charge the full fee if they are unable to find the party to be found. However, some others will charge the full fee no matter what.

There are a good number of adoption searches that end up well, but there are also those who are unable to be found or those who refuse contact. If you are unable to find your biological family, do not give up. Keep searching and keep investigating every lead that you come across.


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