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Search Tips for Birthparents

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Searching for adult birth children can be especially difficult for birthparents who may or may not be able to obtain much information. This article is written for both birthparents, however, unless the biological father's name is listed on the original birth certificate and a signed relinquishment form is on record, birth fathers' information requests may be denied. All information in this article pertains to search for an adult birth child.


Know Yourself

Read some good books and online information about searching, the emotional impact, and reunion. Be sure you feel comfortable with your reasons and the kind of search you want to do:
  • Passive Search: A passive search is one where you make every effort to place the information you have about the adoption in places where it can be found by your searching birth child. Many birth parents believe that timing for initiating a reconnection should be left to the adoptee, and choose this option.
  • Active Search: An active search is one in which you actively pursue avenues to find information about your birth child's current name and location. This does not necessarily mean that you will be the one to initiate contact, but it might give you the ability to do so, if you choose.
Know The Law

Make yourself familiar with the law regarding release of non-identifying and identifying information in the state where the adoption was finalized. If the state where you are searching has a Confidential Intermediary Program, contact them to find out costs and procedures.

Start a Journal

It's very easy to forget where you've registered, people you've asked for information, and details that may not seem to mean anything. Write down everything, no matter how insignificant. And use your journal to record your own thoughts as you search. This can help jog your memory and solidify your thoughts, as well as provide a record of some of the things you may want your birth child to know if and when you do reconnect.

Start Close to Home

Write down everything you remember or think you remember about the entire adoption process: names, dates, places. Then ask family and friends who were with you at the time to tell you all they remember... and write it all down, even the information that doesn't match with your own recollections. As you move forward with your search, these differences may turn out to be valuable clues.

Register with ISRR

The International Soundex Reunion Registry is the largest free mutual consent registry in the world. It's international in scope, and while contact information can be found online, the registry itself is not online. "Mutual consent" means that a match must be made from registrations filed by both parties who are searching. If you prefer that contact be initiated by your birth child, be assured that if you receive notice of a match, he/she has received one as well and can take the first step.

Note: As you gather more details about the adoption, be sure to update your information with ISRR. The more complete information, the better chance of making a match. Chances are, your birth child will be starting out with a lot less information than you have.

Update Your Information

State Adoption Units, agencies, and even some attorneys will accept updated information from you to be placed in the adoption file. These can include:
  • Waiver of Confidentiality: (Be sure to adjust the form letter to reflect your information.) This is a form whereby you agree that confidential information about you (your name, current location) can be released to your birth child or his/her parent(s) who may wish to contact you. Some states may have their own form that they will send you upon request.
  • Updated Health Information: You are free at any time to write a letter to any agency involved in the adoption, giving your updated health information and asking that the letter be placed in the adoption file and released to your birth child or his/her parent(s) as requested.
  • Personal Letter: You can write a personal letter to be given to your birth child or his/her parent(s), or an open letter indicating that you would welcome contact, including your current name, address, phone and email address.
Before doing any of the above, contact the agencies and attorney to get a current mailing address and the name of the person to whom you should send the documents. They may also have other requirements you will need to know.

Who To Contact

There are several places you can contact to request information, including:
  • Agency, if one was used.
  • Attorney, if one was used.
  • County Court Clerk in the county where the adoption was finalized, and/or where relinquishment was filed.
  • State Adoption Unit, through the Department of Social Services or its equivalent in the state where the adoption was finalized.
  • Hospital where the birth took place.
Initial Information Request

Non-identifying information (non-ID) is information about the adoption without any names or other details that provide specific identifying information. For adoptees, non-ID does not disclose the names of birth parents or their family members, and for birth parents, non-ID will not reveal names of the adoptive parents, their family members, etc.
  • Non-ID: If the state allows birth parents to obtain non-identifying information, contact them or an agency that is authorized to request it.
  • Copies of All Papers You Signed: From the agency/state, or County Clerk where the adoption was finalized and/or where the relinquishment was filed.
  • Original Birth Certificate: This is part of the original adoption file.
Don't be discouraged if you get turned down with general requests. You may be able to get answers to specific questions more easily.

Information to Collect

When you contact agencies, attorneys, and hospitals, it is generally better to write a letter. Here are some suggested information requests which you can build on to find more details.
  1. Copy of the hospital record. If the adopting parents paid for any of your expenses, their names could be in the record. (If you don't remember the doctor's name, this could be there as well.)
  2. Court jurisdiction where the adoption was finalized. Judge's name; caseworker's name.
  3. Was the child placed in foster care between relinquishment and placement? Where? When? For how long?
  4. Outside of the adoption, were there any court actions taken affecting the child? Where? When?
  5. How old were the adopting parents at the time of placement?
  6. Did the adopting family have other children, adopted or biological?
  7. How long had the adopting parents been married at the time of placement?
  8. General description of adopting parents: hair color, eye color, health, heritage, religion.
  9. Adopting parents occupations? Education?
  10. Were adopting parents divorced before or after adoption? Did either one die before or after finalization?
  11. Has the agency or court ever contacted the parents or child after finalization? When? Why?
  12. What is the best way to update my health and location information? File a Waiver of Confidentiality?
Support

You are not alone! For some, joining a local and/or online support group is something they want to do at the very beginning and for others, it may take some time before they're ready to open up. Whenever you are ready, there are many wonderful online resources.

And don't forget to record everything in your search journal!
Visitor Comments (7)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Jim - 12 months ago
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I wish I wasn't in such a bad situation I had to give up my rights on March 15,2007 of my two children my daughter born September 3,1999 and my son born November 15,2001 through the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau. My wife wanted to be free not to be married anymore or be a mother anymore and child services took custody of them. I was homeless and jobless at the time due to some of my wife's prior actions... I definitely didn't want to drag them through anymore possible suffering. They deserved stability, a roof over their head, food in their stomachs, and a better start to things than I could provide at the time. I do take some solace in the fact that I was able to meet their adoptive parents beforehand. My Life has changed it is stable and even if it takes till they are adults I still keep hoping for a time where I can know them again and it pains me that I've missed so much of their lives and I know there's no way to make up for it. #1
Carmen Glisson Kearns - 8 months ago
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Wishing I knew if my son I adopted out in 1974 is trying to find me, he was born Jan. 26 1974 in Grady Hospital, Atlanta Ga. I had to do it, was to far gone at the time, His name was Richard Eric Sadler, he now has 2 sisters and a brother. Am not the same as back then, so would like to be able to tell him why. Not a day goes by or his birthday I do not think of him. I pray God see's my struggle and it will happen. #2
Cara - 1 year ago
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I'm looking for my daughter, she was born September 4,1996. I was only 14 years old Now that I'm all grown up (31) you would love to know my little girl. It's hard for me and always on my mind. To be so young and not know your child. #3
Candace - 1 year ago
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I am looking for my birth mom born in 1956 in Allentown Pennsylvania. Also my birth brother born in Michigan in 1987 we were both adopted out of Catholic Social Services of Wayne. #4
Guest - 1 year ago
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I am looking for child of unwed mother Faye LaRue Meckley to UNK Pennington. The child was a little girl Meckley born in Chest Twp., Clearfield County between 1xxxxx placed in Clearfield County Home and adopted. #5
Chris - 1 year ago
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I am looking for my daughter born in Toledo ohio on March 14, 1979. It went through Jewish Family Services. I am running into some walls. xxxx #6
rita - 1 year ago
1 0 0
I am trying to find my daughter born dec. ..thirty first nineteen eighty eight and adopted through friends of children in atlanta .this has given me some helpful information.thankyou #7
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