Once you have made the decision to seek out your lost family – whether you are a biological parent looking for a child or an adult adoptee trying to find your genetic roots – your first step should be to complete a profile on an Adoption Registry . Providing as many identifying details as you know will help you to produce the best results in matching information with the ones you wish to find. Every registry varies in the amount of information it allows the public to view freely. Information listed is generally publicly viewable unless privacy preferences are selected. Memberships are usually required whenever contact information is listed in hopes of connecting you with your long last family member(s). You may not always be aware of who has accessed your profile, so remember to exercise a certain amount of caution when being contacted by unknown parties.
In the world of adoption, search and reunion, exists anonymous volunteers who have come to be known as “search angels”. These are people who donate their time to doing searches and making connections to help you find the person(s) you are looking for. Hiring a private investigator to do this work can get very expensive, very quickly so the time and resources that these volunteer searchers provide is an invaluable resource for adoptees or biological parents. Search Angels do not conduct any searches involving minors or offer to facilitate a meeting between you and the other parties. What they can do is track down leads and connect the pieces of your puzzle to give you the tools and information you need to connect with your lost loved one(s) – if that is indeed what you decide to do.
Search Angels sometimes use Adoption Registry boards or forums to find people they feel like they can help. Once your information is out on a Registry board, the first person to contact you may not be the person you seek but instead one of these Angels. If you are contacted by a stranger who offers to help you search, you should definitely proceed with caution.
First of all, you should not provide them with more details than you would be willing to publicly post. After all, this is a stranger with no credentials and although they present themselves as a kind volunteer, you really have no way to know who they are or what they may do with your information.
Second, you should not expect immediate – or any – results. They are volunteers who donate their spare time and often are helping multiple parties in searches at the same time. Last, and maybe most important, be prepared for how you will handle the information they do find for you. Once they have a result, it is up to you to follow up on contacting that person and actually making the connection and you may not know if you are ready for that until you have a name, phone number, email address, physical address, or other information staring you in the face. Just remember, that is the point where it is all up to you and they will step aside to let you proceed however you choose.
Search Angels do not ask for payment for their services. They may ask, or you may offer to reimburse for expenses such as document retrieval, phone calls, postage, etc. but paying them for their time would be a red flag and you should question if this is truly a Search Angel or someone trying to take advantage of you. It is always ok to question their motivation and intent and to be skeptical of information they provide. You should not feel guilty for trying to make sure that the service you are receiving is coming from a benevolent place and that the facts they find really match up with what you know.
This is another reason why it may be a good idea to hold back specific details you know about the person you are looking for, so you have something to verify information given back to you against. It is similar to investigations conducted by police when they hold back certain details that would only be known to their unknown subject to ensure that when presented with a possible suspect, they can verify this really is the person who was involved. There are many reasons why you might receive incorrect information so I would suggest taking whatever measures you feel necessary to make sure you connect with the person(s) you were indeed separated from.
Search Angels are a blessing to the adoption community. More and more well-meaning people are donating their time to help people affected by adoption find one another. Searching and reuniting is never an easy process to go through so be prepared to face the unknown and for the process to take time. Weeks, months or years may pass and there is a possibility of never finding the answers you look for. There are no guarantees and only you can decide when and how you will find your way through this process.
Just remember, even if you start searching – you can always stop anytime and ultimately the information you uncover is yours to do with whatever you choose. Never let anyone pressure you or give you false expectations. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Good luck and happy searching.
Credits: Adopted Abby
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