From a very young age, many adoptees yearn to know where they come from, leading them to wonder where their birth parents are. It is natural for adoptees to want to locate and meet their birth parents for answers. To legally begin a search for his or her birthmother, an adoptee should identify if they are in an open or closed adoption. Depending on the state where the adoption was finalized, an adoptee may be able to request adoption records at 18 and 21 years of age. The best place to start looking for birth parents, even if you cannot access adoption records, is to register on mutual consent registries.
Adoptees in closed adoptions often experience difficulty obtaining information about their adoption, preventing adoptees from locating his or her birth parents. Closed adoption or sealed adoption records prevent adoptees from knowing who their biological parents are and having any contact. Closed adoptions primarily benefit birth and adoptive parents, not the adoptee.
The state where the adoption was finalized determines how much access an adoptee has to adoption records when they become of age, typically between 18 to 21 years old. In many cases a court order or petition may be needed to obtain adoption records. If an adoptee is not able to access sealed records, an adoptee may have the right to obtain non-identifying information about his or her adoption. Non-identifying information may include information about birth parent’s medical history, education, reason for placement, occupation, hobbies, and more. This information can be used as a lead to help adoptees locate his or her birth parents.
Once an adoptee is of age and ready to search for his or her birth parents with or without access to adoption records, the best place to begin is to register on mutual consent registries. One of the most popular registries is the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISSR). Mutual consent registries require both parties to register on the site to make a reunion possible. Adoptees are encouraged to gather as much information possible from adoptive parents, agencies, and non-identifying records to increase the likelihood of locating his or her birth parents.