Searching For Adoption Records

 

 

 

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Searching For Adoption Records

If youíve always wanted to know who your biological parents were but you didnít know where to start your search, here is a simple guide to help get you started. 

Searching adoption records can be a tedious process, especially if you have very limited information.  It is important to know that your adoptive parents rarely have any contact with your biological parents.  When adoption agencies handle the process, the information that is shared with adoptive parents and the adoptee is limited to non-identifying information such as health records, ethnic origin, education, height, weight and eye color.    

Your search is usually done in one of three ways:  1) a personal search that you perform on your own, 2) a search done through an agency or intermediary or 3) by hiring a private investigator or law firm that specializes in people searches.  One of the easiest places to start your search is finding your birth certificate and adoption decree.  These records will provide you with the city, state and hospital that you were born in.  This information is the starting point for any adoption record search.  You can request a copy of your birth certificate through the court of records in the city and state where you were born.  There is usually a small fee (under $25.00) associated with obtaining your record.  Call ahead to the court office to inquire about the fee is so that you can include it with your request.

What if your adoptive parents wonít provide you with your adoption information?  Your quest can be sidelined temporarily if your adoptive parents wonít give you specific information but you can still continue your search.  The most necessary piece of information is your birth date and the state you were adopted from.  If you were born in Florida or California though, you may find that the actual date of your birth has been changed.  One way to discover the discrepancy is your baptismal record, if you have one.  Many children that were placed through Catholic Charities have baptismal certificates.  Usually your baptismal record has the correct date of your birth.  Many states have adoption reunion sites where you can post information about yourself but the reunions are guided by your date of birth.  Therefore, finding out what your correct birth date is crucial to your search and petitioning the courts may be the only way to do this, especially if you donít have a baptismal certificate.     

Petitioning the courts can be done without hiring someone to help you legally, though it is usually easier for most people to hire a lawyer.  The process can be tedious since you need to petition the court that finalized your adoption, and then wait for an intermediary to be assigned to your case.  An intermediary will then compile the non-identifying information in the case and provide it to you when they are able.  The reason this can take a long time is that the intermediary is often a person working for a social services organization.  Their priority is handling the cases set before them regarding people that arenít adopted; often times your paperwork will be set on the back burner until they have time. 

A great place to start looking for assistance in your adoption research is www.adopting.org.  This website provides a wealth of information including articles on why adoptees and birth parents choose to search for their lost family members.  If you havenít decided whether or not it is a good idea to search for your lost family, reading these stories by people with similar experiences may help you in your decision making process. 

Another place on the Internet to find out information on the search process for lost family members is www.adoptionblogs.com.  This website can be very helpful as many of the bloggers have gone through the search process themselves and can provide you with specific information on how to do a search in the U.S., as well as performing a search abroad.  There is no cost to read blogs on this site and if you want to post comments or questions you may do so if you register for free.  When you register you do not have to give your name; only your email address and the creation of a username is required.

If you prefer to have someone else do the search for you, there are several agencies that can be found on the Internet.  These agencies will perform searches for you to help you find your birthparents or siblings for a fee.  For example, www.omnitrace.com will give you a quote based on the amount of information that you provide to them on their online request form.  You can also call them at 1-888-965-6696 and get individual attention to your quest to find your biological family.

Another option to help you with a search is hiring a confidential intermediary or independent search consultants.  These people usually can perform a search for you with fees ranging from $300 and up.  Fees vary depending on the amount of information that you can provide to them.  Rarely is there a charge for their services if they cannot find the person that you are looking for.  Remember that when using an intermediary you are depending on their skill and diplomacy when searching and contacting your birth family on your behalf.  An organization that will direct you to searching for intermediaries in your state as well as Canada or the UK is http://local.reunite.com.  Another site that can help you start your search is www.adoption.com.  There is no cost for using either of these sites.

Before you pay anyone to do a search for adoption records on your behalf, be sure to check them out with the Better Business Bureau as well as requesting their success rate.  With the high cost of fees in this business it is wise to check the agency or individual out before you hand over your hard earned money.

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