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How to Find a Child You Gave Up for Adoption

How to Find a Child You Gave Up for Adoption
Written by Rosana Beechum

If you gave up a child for adoption in the past, you may be hoping to eventually reunite with them. Maybe you gave birth to them when you were young, and now that they will be an adult, hope to meet them and discover the person that they have become over the years.

Perhaps you have other children now who would like to meet their older brother or sister. The reasons for wanting to meet a child that you once gave up for adoption vary for everybody and could be anything from curiosity about them, to a need to gain important details about medical or family history.

If the child you’re looking for will be an adult now, then you can usually expect a closed adoption in most cases, where you will not have been provided with information on the adoptive parents.

The good news is, there are procedures designed to help you reunite with your child. 

Preparing for Your Search

First of all, gather any necessary information that you have on your child. You will need it to unseal adoption records or find your child online; for example, you will need names when looking for your child using public records to search courthouse records regarding the adoption.

You can find courthouse records that are publicly available by entering the information required; usually the child’s or adoptive parent’s name, and other information such as their date of birth or address. Some key information that you should gather or try to get hold of include:

  • The name of the adoption agency that you used, if you worked with one. 
  • The location, including the state and county, where the adoption took place. 
  • The name that you gave your child at birth. 
  • The child’s date of birth. 
  • The child’s Social Security Number, if you have it. 

Bear in mind that adoption agencies and state agencies will hold both identifying and non-identifying information on both the child and their adoptive parents. When hoping to find the child, you will need to identify information, including names and addresses. 

  • You can get in touch with the agency to find out if they gathered any non-identifying information on the adoptive parents, but bear in mind that while it is helpful, it’s unlikely to lead you to the child. 
  • Check your state laws to determine how you can access identifying information, such as the adoptive parents’ names, the child’s new name, and their address when the adoption took place. 

Consider that your ability to access this information will depend on the state where the adoption took place. The law will determine who is able to seek out what information, and in which circumstances. 

Using a State Registry

Over thirty states have created registries that can be used by birth parents and adopted children looking to find one another. These ‘mutual’ consent’ registries allow the child and birth parents to file statements that consent to the release of their identifying information.

If your child has already filed with and joined one such registry, you will be able to gain access to their information once you register. There’s no guarantee that your child has already signed up, but it’s worth registering and giving consent for your information to be shared, in case they do in the future. 

In some states, the registry may be able to contact your child to let them know you are looking. This is known as a confidential intermediary program. You will need to make a request to the state agency, and the intermediary will contact your child to check if they consent to the release of their identity. They can either give consent or refuse. In some states, you will need a court order to use this program. 

Unsealing Adoption Records

If your state does not have a registry and you have been unable to locate your child through the adoption agency that you used or online, you may want to consider petitioning the court to unseal their adoption records. You should do this with an attorney, and you will need to prove that you have ‘good cause’ for unsealing the records; curiosity alone may not be sufficient. 

  • Draft a petition: Start a lawsuit by filing a petition with the court. It should include any relevant facts and your legal reason for why the records should be unsealed. 
  • You should sign your petition in front of a notary public. Notaries can be found in most courthouses, and you will need to bring sufficient personal ID. 
  • You must file the petition in the county where the adoption took place, and then attend a hearing.

Whatever your reason for hoping to reunite with a child you gave up for adoption, be prepared for the journey ahead. 

Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme.

Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re not talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.

I have come to accept my failures as well as my strengths in dealing with day to day struggles. I understand that sometimes situations cannot always be controlled and that I should learn to appreciate the good times and accept that whatever happens, happens.

Appreciation is everything. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?

I have learned to appreciate the people I have that have stuck by me. It’s rare to meet individuals who become an integral part of your life offering support and companionship especially at times when you need it most.

Share with us one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.

The biggest achievement in my life would be my 2 children. The goals I have are what I strive to give to my kids for them to have a better life.

Photo by Heike Mintel on Unsplash

About the author

Rosana Beechum

Rosana is a Business Management graduate from the United Kingdom, who enjoys writing informative articles from her curiosity to explore meaningful topics or to provide insights and guidance for small businesses.

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