1. Non-Identifying Information
If you don’t already have your non-identifying information, you need to get it. You can go to the .gov website of the state you were adopted in to get instructions on how to request the document. It should include some vague information about your birth parents, such as a physical description, level of education, and type of employment. The amount of information included varies greatly. I was fortunate enough to have my non-identifying information mixed in with my adoption paperwork. I always thought the information provided seemed pretty useless, but I ended up being very glad I had it.
2. Adoption Registries
Adoption registries are sites that allow both birth parents and adoptees to post information they have regarding the adoption in hopes of the other finding them. Some registries are passive meaning you must do all the work yourself. Active registries will contact you if your registration information produces a match. Registries allow you to search using very little information. If all you have is a birth date and location, then you can search with that. Most states have their own adoption registry. A quick Google search should locate the one for your state. There are many other registries as well. You can check out ISSR, Reunion Registry, and G’s Adoption Registry. Be sure to write down all of the ones that you register with so you can keep your contact information up to date.
3. Facebook Groups
If have accumulated info on someone but you don’t know how to find them, you can always ask for help on Facebook. There are adoptee specific groups like Adoptee Central, and then there are search groups like Search Squad. I also joined DNA Newbie and DNA Detectives when I sent my DNA sample into Ancestry. I used posts from members of the group as learning tools while I waited for my test to process. Don’t be shy if you need help with your search. There are plenty of people online who have been in your shoes and would love to give you some direction.
4. DNA Testing
This has been a game changer, but it may not work the way you think. Very few adoptees get an immediate family member match right away. That’s ok. I didn’t have one, but with the help of a search angel (which can be picked up in one of the FB groups), I found my birth family in 24 hours. Most often, it takes a little time and effort to work through the results. You can do cousin matches and find their public trees and public records to create your own tree and figure out where you go. Your non-identifying information is really helpful here. The top three testing companies are AncestryDNA, 23 and Me, and FTDNA. I used Ancestry because they have the largest database of users (over 5 million), but you can choose whichever one you want. Afterwards, you can upload your raw DNA file to Gedmatch. Their site accepts DNA from multiple companies, so you may pick up some additional matches there. I do not recommend sending messages to your matches. There is a very real possibility that the adoption is a secret. If you expose that too soon, you may have doors closed on you before you even get started. In most cases, you don’t need their help to put the puzzle together.
5. Public Records
Ancestry has a great collection of records. You do not have to have a membership, but that may be easier. Most libraries have a subscription that they will let you use for free. There are plenty of people-finder sites that are also useful. In the past, I have found Truthfinder, Classmates, and Old-Friends to be helpful. Also, you can visit the Clerk of Court website for the county a person lives or lived in to find further information. If you get stuck, ask questions in Facebook groups. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to donate their knowledge and time to help reconnect families.
For more guidance and information on how to find your birth parents or adopted child, visit AdoptionInformation.com.