A large majority of adopted children and birth parents will, at some point in their lives, actively search for their biological parents or children given up for adoption. There are many different reasons why they may be searching, but nearly all find that it is a difficult process, not only emotionally but also in the reality of searching for a person with often very little to go on. If your life has been touched by adoption, here's how to find your birth parent or child:
- Understand that the journey won't be easy. Whatever your reason for finding your birth parents or child, understand that this can be a difficult and emotional adventure filled with many highs and lows. Be sure you are ready, and that you are prepared to deal with whatever you may find. Understand that your birth parent or child may not be happy to hear from you.
- Collect any information you have. Adopted children may want to ask their adoptive parents for any information they have on the birth parents. Both birth parents and adoptive children can also contact the adoption agency or any other third party handling the adoption, though with a closed adoption they may be restricted from releasing this information, even if they have it. Write down any information you have about the hospital, the agency, and the birth parents or adoptive parents. At the very least, you'll need a name with which you can begin your search.
- Contact the agency or state. They can release non-identifying information that may help you in your search. The amount of information you'll get through this route depends on what was recorded at the time of birth or adoption. It may include medical history, height, weight, eye and hair color, ethnic origins, education and professional achievements, religion, and more.
- Register in adoption reunion registries. Also known as Mutual Consent Registries, these registries exist to provide a way for adopted children to reconnect with birth parents. Adoption groups or mailing lists can also provide support for this process.
- Try the hospital records department. If you know the hospital in which you were born, contact their records department. They may be willing to look up your birth record, which can help you find a name and other information on your birth parents.
- Petition to have the records unsealed. This requires a court process and an attorney, but it can be an effective way to obtain this information, especially if it is needed for medical history purposes.
- Research the name using a variety of sources. If you have a name, look it up in city directories, marriage and divorce records, hospital records, birth and death indexes, or obituary searches.
- Consider hiring someone. There are people who specialize in such searches, and who may be more skilled at hunting down the information you need. Look for someone with experience specific to adoption research. Though this can be an expensive route, it can often prove fruitful.
Finding your birth parents or child can be a long and difficult process, though many find it well worth it. This search requires a lot of legwork, and can be next to impossible unless you can find at least a first and last name.