Search and Reunion
If you are searching for a birth mother, birth father or other birth relative this is a place to start.
Searching for Birth Relatives
Most states seal adoption records after the adoption is finalized. That means that unless the adoption was an open adoption you may have a very difficult or impossible time identifying the biological parents.
A 2001 study that estimates that up to 50% of all adopted persons search at some point in their lives for information about their biological family. Recognizing that many adoptees search for biological parents and vice versa, many states have developed procedures by which parties to an adoption may be able to get non-identifying and even identifying information about the adopted person's birth relatives.
A Child Welfare Information Gateway article entitled Adoption and the Stages of Development: Searching for Birth Relatives provides definitions of non-identifying and identifying information, an overview of who may access such information, and information about access to original birth certificates. The article provides information on the decision to search, some of the steps involved, the issue of hiring a professional to help search, international searches, and search and reunion concerns. This site also provides an overview of the impact of adoption on birth parents and adopted persons and examines issues related to the search process.
International Adoptees from another country can contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive copies of their immigration records.
An international agency that may offer help is International Social Services, which provides a broad range of social work services, including helping adopted persons find birth families abroad. Their U.S. branch can be found on this website.