Lost & Found: Steps to an Adoption Reunion
As humans, we have a natural curiosity about things. When there is information to be found out, we tend to search for answers. The same goes for adoptees. There may be many reasons why an adoptee decides to search for his or her birth parents, but mostly it’s that curiosity. That desire to find a part of yourself you may have always felt was missing.
Adoption search and reunion in the age of the Internet is worlds better than it once was. With so much information at our fingertips, and special databases created just for that purpose, it’s easier than ever to connect with your birth parents. But even with the amount of technology and access we have, it is still a process that requires time, patience, and emotional strength.
Steps to an Adoption Reunion
Open and semi-open adoptions are much more common today than they used to be. However, closed adoptions are still seen sometimes. At Adoption Choices of Nevada, we see a handful of these cases a year. Likewise for many, their adoption journey began at a time when closed adoptions were a lot more common and the Internet has finally provided them with the resources to begin taking steps to an adoption reunion. With all things considered, searching for birth parents — or the alternate of a birth parent searching for the child — starts with some basic steps.
1. Talking to your family:
First things first, if you are going to search for your birth parents, the best people to ask about any information is your adoptive parents. They will likely have some sort of information on your birth parents, especially if the adoption was open or semi-open. On that same note, if there is anyone in your life that may have been involved during the time of the adoption, you can ask them if they have any helpful insight. Having just a name can go a long way.
2. Talking to your adoption agency, lawyer, or caseworker:
If your parents have limited knowledge or it was a closed adoption, the next step would be to inquire at the agency through which the adoption was arranged. Asking the agency or contacting a lawyer will also be the first step for a birth parent looking for a child.
Unfortunately, at Adoption Choices of Nevada, because our primary focus is the adoption process, we do not handle adoption reunions. We will likely direct you to the Nevada Adoption Reunion Registry or other online resources to help you on your journey.
3. Use an online registry:
Which leads us to our next option: the Internet. As aforementioned, many states have an adoption reunion registry. These databases work by matching children and birth parents that are mutually looking for the other. Both you and your birth parents would have to register in order to find each other, though.
Along those same lines, there are other resources available today that can help you with your adoption reunion journey — Facebook and Ancestry.com. These websites may not work specifically for adoption purposes, but are extremely useful tools in tracking down family members that you may otherwise not know or have access to. With Ancestry.com you are even able to take a DNA test that can provide you with useful information and link you to any relatives that may be registered with the website as well.
The Internet is abundant with sites that can help direct you towards long-lost family members. But another great tool that we use here at Adoption Choices of Nevada is Child Connect. Child Connect is a way for birth parents and adoptees to connect over the years in a healthy and practical way.
4. Find out your state’s laws on adoption records:
Adoption record laws vary state by state. Some states are able to provide copies of adoption documents, such as birth certificates, consent forms, etc. In closed adoptions, records are usually sealed for privacy reasons, but in some states will be unsealed when the adoptee comes of age (18 years old). In many cases, documents will be unsealed with some restrictions in order to protect privacy and keep true to the initial agreement (i.e. in a closed adoption).
Research your state’s laws before you begin your search so that you are prepared for any obstacles that may come up. Along with conducting your own research, be sure to talk with your lawyer about any legal issues you may encounter and how to handle them.
Deciding to take steps to an adoption reunion is a very personal journey. For many adoptees, the feeling of curiosity and the desire to find that missing piece outweighs the potential fears they may have. For others, their confidence in who they are and love of their adoptive family may steer them the other way. Whatever your personal journey is, searching for your birth family does not mean you love your adoptive parents any less. Your journey to connecting to your past will be just as emotional for your parents. They may feel fearful or insecure, but remember that they love you.
It is a sense of knowing who you are, all of who you are, that makes an adoption reunion as special as it is. Your adoptive parents raised you, cared for you, loved you. Your birth parents created you, loved you, and made a plan for your best chance at life. Even though not every person’s adoption reunion story is picture-perfect, and many may experience heartache, the search for self is a vital ingredient in building our identities. Finding yourself is a part of growing up. However you choose to reach that destination is up to you.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Devon Thornton is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. She has recently moved from Orlando, FL to Clarksville, TN, and is pursuing her writing career with Adoption Choices and also writing personal essays in her free time. Devon is an avid reader and a big Harry Potter fan.
When she’s not curled up reading a book, you can find her somewhere on a hike or a camping trip. She loves her cat, Minerva, and considers herself a true animal lover. She hopes one day to publish a book of essays and to maybe meet J.K. Rowling.