As a birth parent, there are a plethora of reasons as to why you would want to search for the birth child you placed for adoption. The journey to get to this point may have been a long time coming, or maybe you have just recently decided you would like to find more information about the child you placed. You are not alone.
As the Founder of a technology platform connecting clients to private investigators and as the former Executive Director of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, I have connected with thousands of individuals searching for biological family members. The Maine Department of Human Resources Task Force on Adoption found in a survey they conducted that “every birth parent who was surveyed wanted to be found by the child/adult they had placed for adoption and 95% of the adoptees who were surveyed expressed a desire to be found by their birth parents. 98% of the adoptive parents supported reunions between their adopted child and members of the adoptee’s birth family.”
Here are some of the reasons a birth parent may begin the search process.
1. You want to reunite with your birth child.
When it comes to finding your birth child, everyone has a different reason for beginning their search. Many birth parents do desire a reunion at the end of the process. The reasons for reunion can vary. It may seem like a daunting task to get from the place you are today with little to no information on the child you placed. Most people do not know where to begin. A simple Google search comes back with advice on social media searches, private investigators, ancestry sites, and agency support.
Sometimes the easiest way to jumpstart a search is by using a professional who is highly trained, licensed, and vetted. Licensed private investors, ancestry sites, ancestry professionals, or adoption agency staff are an easy way to jumpstart the process by taking what little (or maybe great deal of) information you have and getting you on the right path with any or all of the answers you need. The professional can help verify the information you or they have compiled to ensure it is actually your biological child. Most are very well-trained, due to years of experience, in facilitating reunions. They may make the initial contact via phone or in-person for you.
2. You hope to build an ongoing relationship with the child you placed.
Once you have identified and found your birth child, you may wonder “where do I go from here?” Recognizing and accepting the emotions you feel as normal and okay is the first step. You may be anxious, excited, apprehensive, or scared. All of these feelings are normal and again, you are not alone.
It helps to decide what you will say before you contact your birth child. You may want to choose the best course for you – whether it be by phone, social media, email, or letter. Most professionals agree that an unannounced visit may not be the best course of action, as your birth child may react better with some time to react appropriately by digesting the information that they have been found by you.
Once that initial contact takes place, take your time in proceeding. Although you have a deep desire for an ongoing relationship, your birth child may need time to process. Together you can take the relationship one step at a time and find a healthy progression into building it into a relationship that works for both of you and your respective families.
3. You wish to pass along important medical information.
You may have had a medical development or change in your family’s medical history that you feel you need to share with your biological child. Medical advances today can give us a great deal of information to better understand potential health outcomes. You may feel your child deserves this information and it is a last gift with which you can leave them. You can share this information through a search professional anonymously if you wish to not be contacted. You may also do so through the adoption agency or adoption attorney through which you facilitated your child’s placement, as they may be the ones who help with your search.
4. You want to know your child is okay.
When you made the decision to place your child, you may have deliberated on whether it truly was in their best interests to not be raised by you. You may continue to have anxiety regarding the unknowns – How did their life turn out? Are they safe and healthy? Do they regret being adopted? Are they happy? You may not wish for a full-blown reunion or ongoing relationship, but just the knowledge that they are happy and healthy and had a good life will suffice. This is completely normal and a wonderful reason for searching.
5. You want to know your grandchildren.
If you placed your child many years ago, there is a good chance you may be a grandparent or even great-grandparent. Many birth parents wish to search for the child they placed for adoption due to the idea that they may have an entire biological family they have never met. As your life progresses, knowing if you have grandchildren and potentially meeting them may be important to you. This is a very normal feeling and a reason biological parents search. Take your time and respect your birth child’s time to process meeting you first and then introducing you to their respective family. Do not rush the process.
6. You want them to know your story.
When you first placed your child for adoption, there was a reason you made that decision. There was a story of your life that led you to that moment in time and decision. You may have a deep desire to share the motivation or reason behind the placement. Searching for your child for an in-person reunion, sharing a meaningful phone call, or just sending a letter explaining why you chose adoption may be beneficial in your process of healing and moving on. You may just want to give them the gift of knowing their origin story. Maybe you wish to share the identity of their other parent or the story of how you met. Maybe you wish to tell them about your life since the placement and any other children you may have birthed. Whatever your reason, this is a very normal feeling in the process of adoption.
Whatever the reason you wish to search for the child you placed for adoption, taking the first step is the most difficult. Adoption.com has many wonderful resources available, including a Search and Reunion Course. Deciding what outcome you want from your search is also critical. You may have started this process with a simple desire to share medical records that has now evolved to a desire for a reunion. Maybe you dreamed of meeting your birth child, but this search has lead you to only want a photo or identifying information at this time. That is okay. Accept where you are and recognize that may change. Take one day at a time and good luck!
For more information on adoption training, visit the new adoption information website.