When it comes to closed adoption, some adoptive parents want to know more about their child’s roots, and some are content with—even relieved about—how things are set up. Often it isn’t until the adopted child expresses a desire to know his/her beginnings that the adoptive parents even thinks about looking.  And sometimes, it all happens like a beautifully orchestrated event.

Adoptee are often infused with a desire to search and find. But how to do it? Whether the adoptee is an adult or not, adoptive parents can be very instrumental in searching for and locating birth families.  Here are 5 suggestions that may lead to success:

1) Listen and hear. It may be over a period of many years, or just one short conversation. But really listen to your adopted child as he/she expresses desires, needs, and reasons regarding search and reunion. You may hear that there is curiosity, but not desire. Or there may be a longing that is hard to express, but can be deciphered between the words. There may be anger or hurt. Or there may be fear.

Often there is concern when an older adoptee is considering searching. Concern that the birth parents do not want their lives interrupted with the discovery of the adoptee; concern that birth parents will reject the child; concern that lifestyle for both adoptee and birth parents will be altered; concern that adoptive parents might feel rejected or unloved. Really listen to your adopted child, hear with your heart, and then respond appropriately.

2) Find an Adoption Reunion Registry. It’s a good way to begin the search. Most registries require only minimal information to create a profile. By registering, you are opening up the possibility of birth families who are searching to find you or your child. You will also gain access to others’ profiles. If your child’s birth family members have already registered, you may have immediate success.

3) Consider DNA Screening. More and more popular, and meeting with some success in finding birth families, is DNA Screening. Perhaps the most used site for DNA testing is Ancestry.com. There is a fee, but the information received goes beyond finding birth families. It will lead you to all kinds of information about ethnicity, family history, and more. If a birth family member has also participated in the DNA Screening, your child may be matched and this could lead to finding birth parents.

4) Play detective. You may be surprised at how little clues can lead you to more information. We found our son’s birth mother 21 years after adopting him. The time was right for him, and little clues combined led to more clues. Although our search on social media didn’t pan out, as it does for some, we eventually found a phone number that led us to his birth mother. It was a pretty exciting search—almost like a treasure hunt!

5) Provide support and pull yourself out of the picture. This is hard. Remember that finding your child’s birth family isn’t really about you. Find confidence in knowing that you have an unbreakable bond with your child. The only way you can successfully search and find is to do it with your whole heart. Throw jealousy out the window and don’t allow it to rear its ugly head. Remember that reunion may be exciting for your child and his/her birth family . . . but it will also be stressful. Your child will need your support, your comforting arms, and your excitement. Find a way to forget yourself while supporting your child in the search and reunion