If you will be searching for your child's birth parents, the method you use will hinge on how much information is available and how much money you wish to spend. Remember that searching is essentially your child's prerogative, once he becomes an adult, but your relationship while he grows up will determine whether his search is underground or out in the open. You can greatly reinforce his attachment by taking your cues from him and being supportive. Your support can be in the form of hiring a service or private detective or finding resources.
You or your child may be anxious to hit the ground running for the search, but there are steps you should take before you undertake a search. Before beginning a search, do the following:
Gather all documentation, such as adoption petition and consent papers, court orders, birth certificates, travel information, and anything else that has been saved from the adoption.
Write down information you or anyone else involved might remember, such as where the birth mother lived, or that the birth father was a student at a certain college, or the name of the social worker involved.
Contact the state or agency that handled the adoption and ask for any information they can offer you. This will most likely be information that does not directly identify the birth parents, but there may be important clues.
If you don't know the name of the agency, contact your state department of vital records for the state the child was born in and they can provide that information.
Putting together this basic information up front can make it a lot easier to locate the birth parent.
Investing the time and energy in his search is cathartic for your child. He may feel overwhelmed and frustrated at times as he encounters dead ends, but he's exercising control over a situation where he didn't have any as a child.
You or your child can do online searches yourself to try to locate birth parents. If you know the names, you can begin with basic searches for the name alone. If you have other details, such as a city, hospital, or other information, you can include that in your search. If your child was adopted through an agency, the agency may have a program that allows adoptees and birth parents to contact each other should each consent. There are also many, many message boards where adoptees and birth parents hoping to connect can post information and sometimes find each other. Reunion registries exist for every state and many agencies.
If you are searching for a birth parent from an international adoption, you will likely have to hire a professional searcher who has contacts in the country and speaks the language.
Organizations that can help you and your child include the Council for Equal Rights in Adoption (CERA), which maintains an updated list of support groups around the country, and the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR),
You may wish to hire a confidential intermediary — a professional who works for the state who seeks out members of the adoption triad and brings them together if there is consent. You may also wish to consider hiring a private investigator, who does not need the consent of the birth parents to release information. It is very important that if you do hire someone, that you ask for references and do your homework to make sure this is a person or agency who has a successful track record in reunions. Searching for a birth parent is a very emotional journey, and there are too many people seeking to prey on that vulnerability.