Steps to Take for An Adoption Search

I receive many inquiries about how to start an adoption search. It’s a difficult question to answer without first gathering the details of the case and the circumstances surrounding the adoption.

However, since this is such a common question for many who aren’t quite ready to give up the details of their story or commit to hiring someone to conduct a search, I’d like to share some helpful information that can be applied to most adoption searches, regardless of details and circumstances.

Step 1

Collect every bit of information you can regarding the details and circumstances of the adoption. Write it all down.

Gather photos. Interview family members. Write down pertinent memories. Locate written records such as birth certificates, record of adoption, medical records, diaries, journals, etc.

Step 2

Contact the delivery doctor and/or nurse when possible and ask them what they remember. Do they have any written records they are willing to share with you?

Step 3

Contact the adoption agency or adoption attorney. Ask them for any information they are willing and able to share. If they refuse to give identifying information, ask for non-identifying information. Every little detail helps.

Step 4

Research the adoption laws in the state of adoption. Educate yourself on the laws that currently dictate what is and is not available to you. You might be able to send off for an original birth certificate that could contain very valuable clues. You might have access to non-identifying information about birth parents or an adoptee. The state might even have a process by which you can access free assistance in locating birth parents or an adoptee.

Find current state adoption legislation information here and Canadian legislation here.

Step 5

Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for international adoptions. Here are some helpful international adoption links -

Step 6

Consider registering your DNA. Find out more about how here.

Step 7

Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry at Also register with your state adoption registry if there is one. This might help you out.

Step 8

Join a search and support group to gain valuable insight from other birth parents and adoptees who are searching. Start with either of the following resources:

Step 9

When all else fails, place a waiver of confidentiality in the adoption file with the agency, state, or attorney that handled the adoption. This will give permission to that entity to share your information with a birth parent or adoptee if they ever decide to search for you.

Step 10

Create and set aside a search fund if you think you might need the services of a professional. This is often an overlooked, yet critical step to take if you are serious about exhausting all avenues available to you.


If you’d like to receive even more information from a professional who conducts adoption searches, you can reach me at or (417) 499-7922.