Many adoptees are interested in learning about their biological family and the country they were born in. It can be both interesting and exciting to learn about the history, literature, and culture of your birth country. Many adoptees even decide to learn the language of the country they were born in. For the international adoptee, the process for finding your birth parents may be different than the process for domestic adoptees.
The first place to start is with your adoption papers. For example, we have a daughter adopted from Russia. Her birth mother’s name, address, and Russian passport number were listed in the document she signed giving consent to place her child for adoption.
Next, find a professional searcher. You can find other adoptive parents who have completed a successful search and ask for advice or you can simply perform an internet search. Always ask the searcher for recommendations from other adoptive parents. It is easier and less expensive if you can find a searcher in the region or province where you were born. For example, our daughter was born in Krasnoyarsk. We found a searcher who lived in Krasnoyarsk versus using a searcher in Moscow, which is quite a distance from Krasnoyarsk and would have required paying extra money for travel. Ask for pricing upfront and make sure that what you agree on is clear and in writing.
Decide what information you are willing to share in the beginning. For our safety (as we did not know much about our daughter’s birth family), we started by writing a letter asking how they are and thanking them for giving our daughter a chance at a better life. We told them some of her likes and dislikes and shared photos. We emailed all of this to the searcher. We only used our first names in the first letter. Our searcher translated the letter from English to Russian, printed the letter and photos, and sent it along with an envelope, stationery, and postage (for them to write back via the searcher) via certified mail.
A few weeks later, the birth mom wrote back to us and included a few photos. Our searcher translated the letter from Russian to English, scanned the original letter and photos, and then emailed it all to us.
Our daughter’s birth parents were open to an interview so we paid the searcher to travel about an hour to their city, take photos, and record an interview with them. We made a list of questions for the searcher to ask– names and dates of birth for other family members, health issues, religious and educational background, hobbies, likes and dislikes, as well as detailed questions regarding our daughter, her birth, and her time with her birth mother before she lived in an orphanage. In the video, we were able to see our daughter’s birth mother, maternal grandmother, and cousin. From this interview we also found out the names and addresses for our daughter’s birth father and paternal grandmother. We have a copy of the DVD, photos, and the information we requested.
It is important to decide how much communication you desire. We decided on once a year but after a few letters, lost touch with them. A few years later, we were able to find a family member on a website called VK (a Russian social media site similar to Facebook). This family member knew our names, and we are now able to share photos and videos of our daughter as often as we choose to.
Always remember that safety is first when performing a search and maintaining contact. There is safety in using a third party like a searcher with experience. Good luck in finding out about your birth family!
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