Searching for Your Birth Family? 4 Things to Keep in Mind

These fundamental principles will help make your journey a success.

Jennifer Mellon February 23, 2016
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When it comes to finding your family of origin, everyone has a different reason to begin their search. Having worked in the adoption and orphan care field for over a decade, I regularly fielded calls and emails from individuals who were placed for adoption as children, parents gathering information to support their adopted child’s search, or birth parents taking first steps in the reunion process. Everyone had a different reason for beginning the search for their birth family. However, they all had one thing in common: feeling overwhelmed with where to start. I encounter a similar feeling as a founder of Trustify, where many of our clients come to us looking for answers on how to begin the process of search and reunion. I have learned a lot through my experiences, so here are some suggestions for not becoming overwhelmed with the process:

1.“The Journey of A Thousand Miles Begins with A Single Step” – Laozi

The hardest part of any new journey is taking that first step, especially in a process as full of emotions as a birth parent, child, or sibling search and reunion. Many feelings can come to the surface before you start searching, so be kind to yourself if it takes some time before you are ready to take that initial step.

2. Be Prepared

Gather all of the information you have regarding the adoption. In addition to any of the non-identifying information you may have, write down everything you can that you already know about your adoption. Even if you already have non-identifying information compiled, think about listing for additional information about your birth parents’ health, education, or interests.

3. Know What Resources are Available

You may be surprised by the plethora of resources that are available to you.  Here is a good place to start:

  • Get a copy of your adoption records law from the state in which your adoption took place. This information can be found at your local library or from your state representative.
  • Contact the agency that handled the adoption to see if they have any additional resources regarding your specific adoption or search.
  • Register with the various reunion registries available, including the Soundex Reunion Registry, the state registry where the child was born, and the Adoption.com Reunion Registry.

4. Bring in the Professionals

Search and reunion can take time and resources that may not be available to you. At Trustify we regularly work with clients looking to find their birth families. By offering affordable, on-demand private investigators to support your search and reunion process, we can get you the information you need when you need it most.

4. Go Online

Adoption.com has one of the most comprehensive reunion registries on the web. By registering and viewing the compiled data, you can make your information available to potential members of your family of origin who are also registered or viewing the registry. Their forums are open and offer critical information for those beginning the search and reunion process.

This process can be fraught with emotions, so consider surrounding yourself with people and resources that can support your journey of reunion. Regardless of the outcome, getting yourself the peace of mind that you have taken the initiative in getting the answers you seek will only offer you space to grow. Be kind to yourself through the process and recognize that you are not alone in desiring the answers and outcome you seek for your journey.

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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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