Jumpstart Your Birth Parent Search

Looking for someone?

Jennifer Mellon February 10, 2017
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If you are reading this article, you are likely considering a search for a birth relative. 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 on your birth family. 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. 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.”

Where Do I Start?

When it comes to finding your family of origin, everyone has a different reason to begin their search. Most 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. Each person is different. 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 a great deal) of the information you have and getting you on the right path with any or all of the answers you need. Many of these professionals can also facilitate a search and reunion, which can make the entire process seamless.

What If I Want to Start Slow?

If you want to start the process in your time and speed, you may want to begin gathering all of the information you have regarding the adoption. In addition to non-identifying information you may have from your agency, adoption attorney or adopted parents, compile any additional information you may have whether you think it is helpful now or not.

Research what resources are available to you. You may be surprised by the plethora of resources you can utilize to jumpstart your own search.

A good place to start:

  • Adoption.com has one of the most comprehensive adoption reunion registries on the web. By registering and viewing the compiled data, you can make your information available to potential members of your biological family who are also registered and viewing the registry. The forums on Adoption.com are open and offer incredibly useful information for you as you begin your search.

  • Get a copy of the state law on adoption records from the state in which you were adopted. This information can be found online, at your local library or from your member of Congress or local state representatives.

  • Contact the agency that handled the adoption to see if they have any additional resources regarding your specific adoption or search.

  • Utilize social media and social networking platforms to see if you are able to find your birth family members with the information you compiled. Use caution on the internet and double check your findings with a private detective on an hourly basis to ensure the person you located is actually who they say they are.

What to Do Once I Find My Birth Parent?

Once you have identified and found your birth parent, 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 parent. 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 parent may react better with some time to react appropriately by digesting the information that they have been found by you.

Deciding what outcome you want from your search is also critical. You may have started this process with a simple desire for medical records which has now evolved to a desire for a reunion. Maybe you dreamed of meeting your birth family, but this search has lead you to only want a photo or identifying information at this time. That is OK. Accept where you are and recognize that may change. Take one day at a time and good luck!

For additional guidance in your search for birth parents or family, visit the new adoption search and reunion website for adoption training.

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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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