Obtain your non-identifying information

Write or call the agency or the state where the adoption occurred and request your non-identifying (non-id) information. The non-id includes the social history and facts about your birth family member. Determine what other resources (if any) an agency might have available to help facilitate a search or reunion.

The non-identifying information is generally the first document that a searcher or private investigator will request. Many professional searchers will not begin to work for you until you have obtained your non-identifying information.

If it has been some time since you originally received your non-id, consider requesting it again. Agencies change policies, their staff, and laws change as well.

The non-id will generally include some or all of the following information about birth parents:

  • ages
  • occupation(s)
  • level of education
  • race and/or ethnicity
  • religion
  • physical description
  • hobbies
  • talents
  • marital status
  • medical history
  • circumstances surrounding the adoption

Other facts that sometimes may be included are:

  • the first names of the birth parents,
  • medical history, ages, and physical description of the extended birth family.

Although the non-id does not contain names, addresses, and contact information for your birth family member, it does provide some valuable clues that will be helpful later on in your search.

Adoptees are entitled to receive their non-id in nearly every state. In some states, birth parents are also allowed to obtain non-identifying information. The information they will receive about the adoptive family and their child will be similar to what is provided about the birth parents.

Note: While it is usually accurate, all the details in the non-id may not be entirely correct. Do not rely on it exclusively.

Put Waivers in the Adoption File

Ask about the possibility of putting a form or letter in the file requesting contact and/or waiving confidentiality. Ask the agency if they have “Consent for Contact” or “Waiver of Confidentiality” forms that you can place in the file to notify the other party that you would welcome contact and agree to the release of identifying information. Be aware, however, that not all agencies recognize and act on forms in an adoption file that could trigger a reunion.

Credits: Jan Baker