How To Start Searching For Your Birth Parents

From the time I found out I was adopted, I’m pretty sure I was counting down the days in the back of my mind before I could legally search for my birth parents. My adoptive parents, who are fantastic, let me know that I was adopted from the get go, and that, when I turned 18, they would support me in the journey to locate and hopefully contact my biological family. While many adoptees aren’t that fortunate, the place to start is always with your family.

Adoptees come from many different circumstances. If you have older siblings, they may be a good resource for possible names (and support) in locating biological relatives.

If that turns up dry, the first step is to get ahold of your original birth certificate. The original birth certificate is usually part of the state or adoption agency’s records. Contact the agency your family used to bring you home (this is especially useful if you’re place of birth is outside of the United States), or the Social Worker’s office that handled your adoption. Keep in mind that this may NOT be your local social worker’s office. If you have changed counties or states, this may mean doing a bit of research to find the hospital you were born at and use their county’s Social Services contact information.

Now, back in 1999, I was making daily phone calls, driving some poor social worker nuts trying to get information on my birth parents. I was mailed a Consent to Contact form, and my biological mother (the only parent on my original birth certificate), was sent one as well. I returned mine immediately, and proceeded to call the social worker every day to find the status of its mate.

While the Consent to Contact form is still necessary, many states offer open adoption records, which include the biological parent’s names, and any updated contact information the parent has submitted over the years. Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting a social worker to look in that file and give you the information. Most of the time, this isn’t the case. The information is often outdated at best, and at worst, simply not there.

The age of the internet has happened since my search began, and there are a LOT of online means to aid in your search as well.  Registries exist that you can post to, to share information in the hopes that your biological family stumbles across your post. Other folks (though very few) have had success in posting a photo on social media that states some basic information, like “I was born on January 10th, 1976 at St John’s hospital in Spokane, Washington. I’m looking for my biological mother/father.” This sign might include known information about the biological parents and requests to share far and wide. There is even an online course you can take to make you a near expert on your adoption search.

The key to this search is perseverance. It can take a lot of time, and there is always the chance that the biological family will have no desire to have an ongoing relationship, but there is also the chance that it could bring a little more love into your life. And isn’t that a chance worth taking?