According to the latest research, around six million people in the US are adopted. Many of them will try to locate their biological parents for a number of reasons. Some want to learn more about their family history, while others seek medical background information. Most adoptees are genuinely curious about their birth parents’ personalities and appearances.
Before the internet and social media existed, you’d have to search public records, library databases, and old documents, hoping to get a lead. If you were lucky enough to find one, you would need to start writing and sending letters and hope to get a response from someone who might be your biological parent.
The internet has given people access to extensive information at their fingertips. Internet users can search for people online in databases like the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR), federal and state databases, and registries created to reconnect parents with their biological children. You can join a mailing list for more information or an adoption support group.
Social networks are very effective in helping adoptees reunite with their birth parents. You can enter your birth name and the city or state where you were born in Facebook’s search bar to get more information. You can send private messages to potential matches or ask people to share your story in the hope of getting to someone who knows your birth parents.
The unlimited resources available online and social media like Facebook have helped many teens find and reunite with their birth parents. However, you need your adoptive parents’ consent to ask for documents from a private or a state agency or to join a mutual consent registry if you are not of legal age, which is 18 or 21, depending on the state.
Most professionals and search groups will only work with someone who is of legal age or if they have their adoptive parents’ consent.
As mentioned, an adoptee can have any number of reasons to search for their birth parents. Sometimes, it’s the other way around. Birth parents will try to find a child they placed for adoption. Someone who was adopted might look for a biological sibling. There are all kinds of different situations, and searching for and reuniting with biological relatives can be difficult and emotional.
The search might end happily, in disappointment, or without gaining closure. Here are some steps to take if you are adopted and want to find more information about your birth parents.
Ask your extended family or adoptive parents if they know anything about your biological parents or if they were told anything. Talk to anyone who might have been around when you were adopted.
Ask if your biological mother ever lived with a friend or relative outside the state where you were born around the time you were adopted. Someone might remember something useful that happened before or after you were born.
Try to find the adoption agency or professional that mediated your adoption and ask if they might have any useful information.
Try to find out who the original doctor was and where their records are, or meet with them, if possible. Talk to anyone who will help you find information or meet with you.
Go to the hospital or other facility where you were born and meet with an ombudsman or someone who works in social services.
Check the relevant legal provisions. You might be able to retrieve your original birth certificate if you were adopted in one state but raised in another.
In the process of searching for your birth parents, you must consider the possible outcomes. One is that you won’t find any information. If you do, it might be limited to your biological parents’ names, which might not help you find them.
You might find out that they passed away. If they are still alive and you meet them in person, there are two options: they welcome you into their lives, or they act distant and aren’t what you expected.
Before making the decision to meet them in real life, be aware of your expectations. Consider if you are only looking for information or if you want them in your life.