How to Start Your Search for Birth Family

>> Sunday, June 6, 2010

 I am Search Angel Diane. I have been a Search Angel for about 2 years and have had around 30 reunions due to information I have found. I am a researcher and teacher at heart so I want to share some ideas with you that have been successful for me.

Some of the Search Angels have been looking for a way to educate other Search Angels and to get information to people who are looking on their own for birth family members. There are lots of support groups (online and local) and as well as many resources available. There are also many registries where you can register your search. I have listed the ones I check first when I get a new search for someone. Please add others in your comments and I will put them on your links. Only free registries for this list, please. I will investigate paid registries later. What I hope to do here is to help you decide where to go next in your search and to pick the best resources I know of.

So you are about to search for your birth family member or perhaps you have been searching for a long time to no avail. It  is very painful for me to start a search for someone who has been looking for 35 years and to get a hit within a few minutes, just because the person did not know what was available. As a Search Angel you may know some of these things, but a checklist might help. As we add posts we will  get to some more complicated methodologies and searches.

First of all very few searches are totally impossible. There are some that may prove to be that way, but it takes a while to really determine that. In a very few cases, the answer is almost immediate. In some cases it can take years. Most cases are in between, probably taking a month or two to search.

Your first steps:
•    Check online registries to see if someone is already searching for you. Be flexible. I hate to tell you this, but some people do not have an accurate memory of time and place. Dates (even years may be wrong) and places mistaken. For example, someone who thinks she may have given birth in St Paul, may have even given birth in Minneapolis.
•    See if you are in an open birth certificate state. The list is growing. There are sometimes some restrictions. There is a list (courtesy of EMLA) on which states are open (or kind of) at the bottom of this post.. In addition some counties in California are now open.
•     Register with . You have to print out paper forms and mail them in.
•    Register with other adoption registries. There are a few listed at the side of this blog,
•    Ask for help. Join one of the online search and support groups - also listed at the side of this blog
•    Ask for a Search Angel. We can just look at your information and point you to resources or take a more active role inn your search, depending on your skills. You can ask through one of those online groups, through or just search with Google. A Search Angel volunteers their time and resources to help you.
•    Check with your state and adoption agency to see if they issue non-identifying documents. You can search on state name plus adoption plus non-identifying document and see if you are eligible. Some states, like Louisiana, do not issue them. Some states, like New York, do not issue them to birth parents, but do to birth siblings. This document may really help in your search.
•    If you have a name then check these resources - all are free unless otherwise noted.
1.    Look up the name in or See places where the person may have lived - these are not in chronological order, get names of possible relatives and if you are really lucky, you might get maiden name or AKA names.
2.    Take those names and locations and go to and see what you can find,. Sometimes you can even find Facebook or MySpace accounts listed there.
3.    Be sure to check Facebook and MySpace. You can do a detailed search on MySpace after your initial search. A box comes up on the right. Very useful. Also people in MySpace often list their birth sign so check that out if you know the birthdate.
4.    If you know the first name (or first name and middle name) check with for people born on that date. Best if you search on a state by state basis.
5.    My last in this first set of hints is to do a Google search - Use the quotation marks indicated. Search on "firstname middlename lastname" then on "first name middle initial lastname" then "firstname lastname" and also "lastname firstname"
6.    Write down on copy every single piece of  information you get including the source. You do not want to realize in 6 months that you have seen that information somewhere and try to find it again.
Open Records States
Alabama - adoption records are open
Alaska - adoption records are open
Colorado - Adoptions records are open for adoptees whose adoptions were  finalized between 07/01/1951 to 06/30/1976 and 09/01/1999 to present.
Delaware - adoption records are open. Birth parents can sign a non contact veto
Indiana -adoption records prior to 1940 may be open
Kansas - adoption records are open
Maine adoption records are open
Massachusetts adoption records are open for birth years prior to 4/14/1974
Michigan - adoption records may be open for older births
Montana - adoption records are open for adoptions finalized prior to 2/2/1964
New Hampshire -adoption records are open
New Jersey - adoption records prior to 1940 may be open
Ohio - adoption records are open for adoptions finalized prior to 1/1/1964
Oregon - adoption records are open
Tennessee adoption records are open if finalized after 1951 birth parents have no contact veto available

Good luck with your search. Next post will cover methodology and how to keep track of what you have found.


  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP