9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Began My International Adoption Search

Some essentials to help navigate you across international waters.

Stephan Petryczka March 09, 2018

After I decided to look for my Ukrainian birth parents, I was completely confused about where to begin my search. I sat there with a thin folder of original and translated documents. I knew that I was born in Ukraine on my birthday, to a woman whose name was on a few documents, and that was about all I knew.

Beginning your search for biological family  abroad can be one of the most frustrating, complicated, and surreal experiences in your lifetime.  It can also be one of the most revealing and relieving. No matter what your search may result in, searching internationally can be overwhelming at the start.  Often, adoptees and their families aren’t sure where to begin. Is it appropriate to go with the highest-priced, most professional search agency or should I trust the stranger on the internet who just told me he knows who my parents are?

Beyond the logistical challenges, there is the added stress of wondering about how the search might impact your sense of worth and your relationships with your family members.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it: it can be rough going for a while.

The good news is that I feel much more in touch with who I am supposed to be as I grow into my adult self.  And although it’s not easy, I believe this was a really huge and pivotal moment in discovering my identity.

Here are a few tips and tidbits to help you or your loved one get through their own international search:

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Stephan Petryczka

Stephan was born in Ukraine, adopted by an American family, and raised outside of New York City. After meeting with his biological family last summer, he has taken steps toward becoming involved in the greater adoptee and orphan service communities. Stephan recently began coordinating programs for the FRUA young adult group. He is currently studying for his Master's of Urban Planning at New York University.


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