For those starting out in the adoption community, it can feel like learning a whole new language. We tend to “speak” in adoption acronyms, forms, processes and terms—and each one may have many new meanings to learn! The term “adoption registry” is one that can mean a few different things. Here are the basics:

1. An adoption registry can be an official place where birth parents or adoptees give their consent for their personal information to be shared with biological family members. For example in some states, an adoptee may not have any information pertaining to his first family unless the biological parent(s) have consented to have their information shared. An adoption registry, in this case, would be where both parties have given that consent. Most states have this accessible online.

2. An adoption registry can also be a clearinghouse when searching for birth parents or for birth parents searching for their placed children. There are a ton of these out there, run by both private and public sites. Some are free, and some require you to pay for access. For example, if you are an adoptee looking for your birth mother, you might log on to’s Adoption Reunion Registry area, enter some basic information about your birth, and search to see if anyone from your first family is also looking for you. There is a lot of information out there to help the reunification process, but with so many online registries out there, you may have to do a lot of legwork before you find the information you are looking for.


3. Another type of registry that often gets confused with the term “adoption registry” is actually called a “putative father registry.” In states with very limited birth father rights, these exist for men who want to ensure that they will be able to maintain their parental rights over any biological children that they may conceive. Essentially, they sign up by saying something like the following: “I am here, and if I have a child, I want to know about it and be informed should any previous partner choose to place my biological child up for adoption in the future.” The ethics of these types of laws and registries are currently being debated in many circles, simply because they make extra hoops for biological dads to jump through. And many men, especially younger men, may not even know that they need to sign up officially.

Need some help with your adoption search? Adoption Detectives may be able to help! Learn more or visit

Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.