Adoption Search Resources (Facebook & More)

Pleuntje/Flickr.com

Pleuntje/Flickr.com

I realized this morning that I have an abundance of helpful adoption search links bookmarked on my laptop.  Sharing is caring. So here are some of my favorite resources for finding your family.

 

 

Search & Support Sites

People Locator Sites (perfect for surname searches by state/location)

Facebook Resources and Groups

If you are unsure where to start your search- I also recommend these adoptionfind posts-

Letter to use when requesting non-identifying information

How non-identifying information identifies

Organize your adoption search

Step by Step search advice

Please email me if have a resource you would like added or questions about searching.- vbrunskill*at*gmail.com

Blessings for a productive search day,
V.L. Brunskill

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Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Step-by-Step Adoptee Search Advice from About.com

While there is no full proof method for finding your birth family, About.com Guide Kimberly Powell has done a nice job of breaking down the initial steps for searching. In the article “Adoption Search -Steps for Locating Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoption Records“, Powell offers seven steps to take once you decide to search.

catlovers/Flickr.com

The suggested search steps include:

  1. Write down everything you know, or ever heard about your adoption, birth family, and nationality. Nothing is unimportant! Think of what your relatives have said about your adoption.
  2. Interview your adoptive parents for information. Again, write it all down. Even the tiniest detail may be important.
  3. Gather documents. The article suggests that you ask your birth parents, which is of course a tough step for many adoptees, as they choose not to include the adoptive parents in their search. The article also suggests that you obtain your original adoption decree, amended birth certificate, and petition for adoption. Some states will allow you access to these items (all allow the amended birth certificate). However, in some states the adoption decree can only be requested by the adoptive parents.
  4. Request non-identifying information. I have two posts on this that should be helpful.Letter for Adoptees To Use When Requesting Non-Identifying Information
    Adoptee Search Tip: How Non-Identifying Information Identifies
  5. Register in every reunion registryyou can find. Make sure to look for state registries.  Another AdoptionFind post offers more on these registries and how to find them.Searching Reunion & Mutual Consent Registries
  6. Join a support group. The information shared in these groups, mailing lists and forums is abundant and worthy of your time.
  7. The final suggestion in About.com’s article is to think about using a Certified Intermediary (CI).  The only problem with this is that not all states offer this search assistance. Google on your state to see if they do.

Be sure to read the full article at Adopt.com, as it offers many links to additional information on Search Angels, the I.S.S.R national registry, and to a people search guide.  Although, none of these steps guarantees that you will find your birth parents names (as suggested at the start of the article), the information gathered with these steps may lead to your ultimately finding your family.

Personal note: I did not know my birth mother’s name until after I found my biological Uncle. He told me her name, so that it was not her full name that was crucial. It was my birth surname that aided in the search.

I found my birth name in the NYC Birth Register books. These are housed at the NY Public Library.  Check your city library to see if they have similar books, which break down births by date, and in my case, city Burroughs.  You can then look for the correct gender, and know that one of those kids is you! 

Your surname is the holy grail!

Letter for Adoptees To Use When Requesting Non-Identifying Information

feverblue/Flickr.com

Recent contact with a reader, who just decided to search, reminded me of the overwhelming confusion that even the terminology of adoption searches can bring.  Who else in the world, but an adoptee, would ever use the term  ‘non-identifying information’?

For adoptees, it is the only information that most states allow us to obtain from our sealed records.  Once you know the agency/lawyer that placed you, you should e-mail and snail mail, the letter below as soon as possible.

Be sure to include your mailing address and full contact information in the letter and email.

Warning: there may be a charge for this service.

As I posted recently, your non-identifying information will be more identifying than you think. Feel free to copy and paste this example.
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Hello:

My name is (NAME). I was born on ( DOB) in (CITY), (STATE). I was adopted at birth by (adopted parent’s names). My adoption was was handled by your agency/organization. I would like to request all non-identifying information related to my adoption, as mandated by state law.

In addition to the non-identifying information, please send me copies of all original documents with identifying info whited out, plus any photos of me from before my adoption.

Please include the following in the non-identifying information:

  • The age of my parents at the time of my birth
  • My given name at time of birth
  • My mothers weight, height, hair color, eye color, general appearance
  • Any educational information, certificates, degrees held
  • Any religious background or affiliations
  • My birthparents ethnic origins (Irish/Italian etc.)
  • The number of sisters/brothers my birthmother had at the time of my birth, plus their ages/occupations.
  • Any information on my birthparents upbringing, including places of birth, and where they resided at the time of my birth.
  • Information on chosen occupations, certifications, honors, military service
  • Any information on my birth grandparents ages/ethnic backgrounds/religion/occupations/education
  • All other non-identifying information including hobbies, talents, and interests

In addition, please examine my file to see if my biological mother and/or father placed there, a consent form granting permission to disclose identifying  information. Also please check for contact permission/consent forms. After, you reply, please place this request in my file to indicate my full permission for contact.

If the records of my adoption are no longer held by your organization, please inform me of where they are now stored.

Thank you.
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Adoptee Search Tip: How Non-Identifying Information Identifies

Today, I want to explain the importance of obtaining a letter of non-identifying information from the agency that placed you. Of course, adoptees in search, must first figure out who handled their adoption. This could be  a lawyer, state agency, private agency, or religious organization.

GlasgowAmateur/Flickr.com

Do whatever it takes to find out which agency, lawyer, or placement provider handled your case. Ask every relative, dig through family files, the family bible, safe deposit boxes.  You might even consider volunteering to clean out your adoptive parents attic!

Once you know the agency that handled your transition, it is time to track down the current address, and contact information for that organization.  Once you have that, I recommend starting with a phone call, to ask about their policy for giving adoptees access to their  “non-identifying” information.

In most cases, agencies will provide you with a letter that includes some information on your birthfamily.  Often, you will have to make the request in writing, and there could be a fee.

You may wonder why you’d want a letter than lacks identifying information. Well, considering that you are starting at zero, this letter is a great starting point. You have no clue what your birthmother was interested in, if she was in school, what her job was, where she lived or whether or not your birth grandparents were aware of your birth.  All of this, and more is often included in a letter of non-identifying information.

When I was searching, I received my letter from the Children’s Aid Society in New York City.  My letter included the number of siblings my birthmother had, as well as the occupations of my uncles at the time of my birth.  It also revealed that she was from a “small town in Canada” and that her “father worked in a hardware/grocery store”.

Additional information revealed that my birthmother was a shy, timid girl, with blonde hair and brown eyes, and that she had no way to care for me, and gave me up so that I would have a “good family”.

While the information may seem vague, the clue that led me to my birthfamily was in that bare-bones information.  Also, tucked in my letter, was the only photo I have of me as a young infant. On the back of that photo, was a surname, one that I had heard all of my life.  My adoptive parents were told my birthname was Richards.  The photo confirmed this (as did a trip to the Birth Register books  at the NY Public Library).

I reread my letter a thousand times (0ver a 7 year period), checking and rechecking for clues, and just when I thought it was useless, my search angel asked me to read it again. I read it aloud to her, and she stopped me at the part that read, “One of your mother’s brothers was a wireless operator.”

My search angel asked me, “What’s a wireless operator?” I did not know, and she suggested that I contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  in Washington, DC.  A very nice man at the FCC explained that a wireless operator in Canada would have required a license, and that I should contact the Canadian Communications Commission.

I called the CCC once, and hung up when a woman answered in French.  Later, I wrote a letter explaining that I had a medical issue, and that I was looking for a Richards male who was a wireless operator in eastern Canada during the year that I was born. I picked eastern Canada because I was born in New York.

I received a written reply in June of 1991.   There were only three Richards men who had wireless operator licenses the year I was born.  The man who wrote the reply, happened to know one of the Richards men. He wrote that  M. Richards still worked for the government, and provided me with his telephone number. M. Richards turned out to be my Uncle.

Every non-identifying letter is different. Some are  detailed, some vague, and some arrive with  secrets revealed, and even surprise photos.  There are social workers, lawyers and judges who recognize the significance of knowing your genetic history, and some will beef up non-identifying info with clues.

Get the request in as soon as possible, and make sure you check with the agency  for procedures.  Once you get your letter, look at occupations (especially those that require a license) and at schools.  Was your birthmother at an art school, nursing school, secretarial school?  How many siblings did she have? These are all revealing clues, that can narrow your search.

Of course, if you get your non-identifying information, and have no idea where to start, I am happy to give you a little advice. Feel free to email me at vbrunskill at gmail.com.

Happy hunting!

All rights reserved: Copyright 2012 Vickilynn Brunskill