Almost all modern adoptions are open or semi-open, which has largely eliminated the need for adoptee search and reunion as well as greatly benefitted the emotional wellbeing of both adoptees and their birth parents. But for adoptions that occurred in a time when most adoptions were closed, the need to learn more about your birth family isn’t as easily remedied.
The process of finding your birth parents can be long and emotionally complex. So before you begin a search for birth parents, you need to be very certain that you’re ready to take this step at this point in your life.
“How do I find my birth parents?” Many adoptees aren’t sure where to start. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
If you feel that you’re ready, these five steps to finding birth family can help guide your way to a potential adoption reunion.
1. Discuss your birth family search with your parents (if living) to collect any information they have regarding your adoption.
They may have copies of your original birth certificate, remember details about your birth parents that can aid your search (such as their age, name, or place of birth) and they may have contact information for the lawyer, agency or social worker who helped facilitate their adoption.
This is also a good time to talk with your family about the emotions that searching for birth parents can bring up for them. Explain your intentions, reassure them of your own relationship and talk about the process with them; this can be helpful for you as well as for them.
2. Check to see if your state has an adoption reunion registry.
Sign up! Your birth parents may have already registered if they’re searching for you, too. If any potential birth family members are registered or later register, the adoption reunion registry will notify you.
If it just so happens that both the adoptee and the birth family sign up for the adoption reunion registry, your adoption search will be that much easier. It’s good to cover that base early on.
3. Request your adoption records.
This can be a breeze, or it can be almost impossible. It all depends on where you live.
Some states have extremely strict adoption record laws, so you may not even be able to access your original birth certificate if you were born after a certain date. Other states have very open adoption record policies that allow any adoptee over the age of 18 to request a copy of their original birth certificate, which will contain the name of your birth mother and possibly the name of your birth father.
There may also be some medical history available (often with the identifying information redacted) or other information to help locate your birth family and learn more about your adoption.
4. Contact the person who arranged your adoption, if possible.
Contacting the adoption agency, attorney or social worker (if living) that facilitated your adoption may provide you with some additional information useful for finding your birth parents. Not all adoption professionals keep adoption records for an extended period of time, but they can often advise you to contact a helpful adoptee search service if that’s the case.
5. Use whatever information you have to guide you in how to find your birth parents.
For example, if you still have little to no information about your birth family, a DNA service may be helpful in your adoption search for birth parents.
For other adoptees with extensive or partial information about their birth family, you may consider using one of these methods to help you find your birth parents:
A DIY search for how to find your birth mother
If you know the name(s) of your birth parents and their approximate age(s), or details about your birth, such as the hospital, date, and county of your birth, you should be able to contact that County Courthouse to search through that day’s birth certificate records.
In some lucky situations, simply calling that family friend-of-a-friend or distant relative who knew your birth mother’s name can prove extremely useful.
Free adoption search for birth parent services
Online “adoption search angels” and “find my birth mother” services have helped thousands of adoptees and birth parents to achieve an adoption reunion. There are even “how to find my birth mother” blogs run by search angels who can help. These are volunteers who donate their time and experience to help you find more information about your birth parents. They’re part of an online community who is dedicated to working together to create adoption reunions for those who want them.
Paid adoption search resources
In addition to DNA genealogy services for adoptees, you can pay a fee to use services like BirthParentFinder.com to help you with finding your birth parents.
Typically, a successful method of how to find your birth parents is a combination of all three of the above adoptee search tactics.
“How to Find My Birth Parents:” Additional Resources
Finding the date of birth, date of death, place of birth, or names of your birth parents will be extremely helpful, but not always entirely necessary for your adoption search. Marriage certificates, arrest records, or other legal documents that you come across in your search may also be of use to finding your birth parents.
Here is a list of helpful adoptee search websites (both free and paid) that you may want to use in your search for birth parents:
- DOB Search
- American Adoption Congress
- Advanced Background Checks
- Moose Roots
- Social Security Death Master File
- US Identify
- Facebook—search for Adoption Search Angels or adoptee search groups!
DNA Testing Services:
Learning how to find birth parents in a closed adoption takes some trial and error, but an adopted child finding birth parents can be an important step to filling in the blanks that closed adoption created. While an adoptee search isn’t right for everyone, for many people seeking an adoption reunion, it can be a way to understand more about yourself and your adoption story.
Follow the links to learn more about preparing for an adoption reunion and DNA genealogy services for adoptees. Best of luck in your search!