One of the first questions faced, certainly by adult adoptees, and by many birth parents, either in online or offline conversations, is “Are you searching?” If the answer to the first question was “No,” that’s often followed by, “Why not?”

It’s important to remember that search is your decision to make, and you don’t need to justify that decision to anyone but yourself.

That said, let’s look at some of the factors you might want to consider when making your decision.

The Effect on You

Search can take time, money, and a great deal of determination. Sometimes it results in success so quickly, it will take your breath away. It can also take days, months, or years or never be successful at all. It can take a toll on members of your family who may or may not be supportive and who, at times may feel left out, even if that’s only because search is such a personal quest. If you’re keeping search a secret from members of your family, this can cause a more general breakdown in communication.

The Effect on Your Birth Child/Sibling/Parent

It’s important to understand that the person for whom you are searching may want much less or much more than you. There are adoptees who may not know they were adopted. There are birth fathers who may not know of the existence of a child. Your appearance in the life of your child/sibling/parent may be welcomed, feared, or rejected.


Having expectations of (as opposed to hoping for) a particular outcome may be an indication that this isn’t the time to begin your search. Some of these can include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Expecting your search will be successful.
  • Expecting financial support.
  • Expecting all your problems to be solved.
  • Expecting to be welcomed into a *new* family.
  • Expecting that you will automatically be loved, admired, or fussed over.
  • Expecting that you can walk in, take a look around, ask the most personal questions, and then disappear.

While some/all of these things may happen, the expectations are unrealistic and may not only hurt those you find, but yourself as well.

The Worst Reasons

In my opinion, the two worst possible reasons to search are because your best friend, sister, brother, parent, or even spouse thinks it would be “cool” and because “everyone else is doing it.”

The Best Reasons

The best reasons to search, ultimately, will be your own. They will be reasons you have thought about, considered, and feel secure with, no matter the outcome.