The Financial Costs Of Search And Reunions

The time and costs associated with any search and reunion can vary by each individual case.

Jennifer Mellon March 23, 2017
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After you have made the decision to begin the search for your birth parents or child placed for adoption, you have lots of options on how best to start the process. Some take more time and others take more money. There is a plethora of information regarding the search process and your options, but little is available on the actual, transparent costs associated with professional searches.

Cost of a Professional Search

My company, Trustify, is the only nationwide network of licensed, vetted private investigators. Our highly qualified investigators are based on geography and speciality. Many of our private investigators specialize in difficult adoption cases, and search and reunions. The turn-around time for our services is very quick, based on our hourly payment system (you only pay for the hours you pre-authorize) and the person searching is in full control of the process. The investigators typically know after 5 hours whether it will be a simple and quick case or whether it will go on for a longer amount of time. Getting that information quickly with a relatively inexpensive investment can help the searching party make an informed decision on how best to move forward.

Based on when the adoption took place, the amount of time can be 8-10 hours on the low side or up to 30 hours or more on the high side. You will get the information within days, and at an hourly cost of $79 an hour, the total cost can go from $600 for quick cases to $2,500 or more for longer, more difficult cases where little information is available on the adoption besides non-identifying information. Again, the amount of information and date of the adoption completion play heavily on the amount of hours needed to complete a case. These fees also include adoption databases, typically run at $50-$250. The disparity is based on the amount of information the searcher has on the person for whom they wish to locate. Most investigators tend to become very good with one database and leverage their expertise to get results quickly.  However, all good private investigators will utilize an additional database, as well as open sources to confirm the found information is accurate.

Most other services offer the results back for a “standard” search in months, not days. Be sure to inquire about any hidden costs, additional fees and confirmation as to when you will receive a response regarding any update in your search. Do your homework and research as much as you can about a search firm or adoption search professional.

Ad-Hoc Reunion Support

Often times, individuals will utilize social media or Adoption.com’s Adoption Registry to jump start their search. Through this process, you may find and want additional assistance in physically contacting your birth family member to arrange a reunion. Licensed private investigators are able to do the surveillance work needed to confirm the identity of the person with whom you wish to locate. Digital forensic investigators can confirm the online identity of an individual with whom you have been communicating. They can contact your birth family member directly for you and even arrange your first phone call or meeting in person. The cost of this ad-hoc service usually runs 3-5 hours.

Finding Additional Birth Family Members

Once you search and find a birth parent, you may desire more information about additional members of your biological family. Hopefully, your birth parent can and is willing to share any information they may have regarding the identity of your other birth parent, birth siblings or extended family. Sometimes, paternity is a lengthier process to confirm and locate, especially if your birth mother does not have contact with your birth father. The time to locate siblings after both parents are identified takes much less time, often only 3 to 6 hours of a private investigators search. This obviously can fluctuate if biological siblings were also placed for adoption or removed by the state and placed in foster care.

The time and costs associated with any search and reunion can vary by each individual case. A highly-qualified and well trained private investigator or adoption detective can utilize very little information to get successful results. No private investigator can guarantee results, but be wary of any who make such promises. Ethical private investigators will charge you accordingly for their expertise and time, and that can fluctuate from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars based on their agency or organization. Do your research and ask the right questions framed above to begin the process of getting the information or reunion you desire.

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Jennifer Mellon

Jennifer Mellon has worked in the child welfare field for more than a decade, serving in varying capacities as the Executive Director and Chief Development Officer of Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) and the Corporate Communications Program Manager for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Jennifer has served on the Board of the Campagna Center, which provides critical educational services to children and families in the DC Metro Area and on the Development Committee for the National Council for Adoption. She is the mom of three children and resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


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