Adoptee Search | Records, Birthdate, Birth Parents, Birth Mother

I wish I had a touching reunion story to go with this article, but I don’t. I’ve been, albeit halfheartedly, searching for my biological dad for many years with no luck. I have a name and the name of a city where he was likely raised. Part of the problem is that he doesn’t want to be found, and another problem is that the state where I was born won’t release records without a court order.

Here are some top ways to find your birth parents from easy and cheap to hard and expensive:

1. Social Media- Do you have a name? Search for it. I tried this. I have, embarrassingly, as a grown-up woman asked two men through messenger if they were my father. They said no, but they wished me the best of luck. Gah!

I’m sure you’ve seen these on your social media feed: a picture of a full-grown man or woman holding a sign written with a sharpie (it seems so archaic, honestly): “Seeking my bio-mom/dad/sister… Born on such and such, in such and such place….” I click “share” because I support them. I just don’t really want to be them. That’s too vulnerable a position for me.

2. Adoption Registries- Adoption registries work if two people are looking for each other and have a few bits of information to go on.

  • Adoption.com not only is the #1 registry, but it hosts a myriad of other links to helpful information throughout your search process. If the registry itself doesn’t work for you, the site offers links to walk you through some of the other alternatives. Adoption.com holds 476,296 adoption records and registering for an account is free with an option to upgrade the account for $9.95 for a whole year.
  • Adopted.com boasts that it contains 785,000+ profiles and is a revolutionary search tool that allows mutually searching parties to locate one another while retaining privacy and without the hassle of going through government agencies. I personally registered for the free version of the account, and I discovered I had “2 matches” not to be revealed until I paid $19.99 for a monthly membership, but they do offer some discounts for people like veterans and single parents. I went ahead and paid the $19.99 and was able to view the two matches. Neither “match” contained anything I was looking for. One match was someone seeking a biological son, but I am a female.

One thing I can get excited about with adopted.com is their banner which says “COMING SOON.” It talks about how they’ve partnered with 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, and FamilyTree DNA. I would be excited to try out that powerhouse of a collaboration. Until then, I canceled my account.

3. DNA Registries- Companies like Ancestry DNA, FamilyTree DNA, and 23andMe will collect and analyze your DNA. This can cost between $59-$200. FamilyTree DNA also offers a discounted price for adoptees. I tried 23andMe. I was happy to get my results and discover my ethnicity (plus a nice bit of other very helpful medical information, etc), but my “matches” have been fruitless so far in connecting with another human relative that is meaningful. My biological dad’s side of the family is not the type to send off their soggy saliva to the fine institution of 23andMe. I do like the “exact” nature of this resource. There would be very little room for conjecture or to make a mistake here. I’m glad I did it.

4. Go through the Court System- I did find a helpful website where you can enter information about your birth and learn about your rights to access documents related to your biological parents. The link is HERE. For myself, of course, I discovered that the records are sealed. If your records are accessible, follow the steps to retrieve them! Filing a petition doesn’t require a lawyer, but you may have more success if you do that.

5. Hire a Private Investigator or an Adoption Detective- A private investigator will have experience and resources that you may not have, but it may be costly. A good PI will have access to law-enforcement grade databases and will be able to dig up more than you could through regular public resources. Of course this could be costly. And, of course, the PI will also remain within the law. If records are sealed, a PI would not be allowed to have access either. But, a PI could walk you through the steps of filing a court petition, which may lend results, but may not. I haven’t taken this step personally because my situation isn’t urgent to me.

Trina Kraus holds a Master’s Degree in education and has taught high school English for seventeen years. She is a proud spouse of a U.S. Army veteran and a mom to two lovely daughters.

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