How to Find Your Birth Parents With Little or No Information
Are you interested in finding your birth family but have no idea where to start? Jenny Wallentine, Origins Genealogy’s co-founder, has been in your shoes. Jenny reconnected with her birth mother when she was 30 and her biological father when she was 50.
Having successfully reunited with each of her biological parents, Jenny knows a thing or two about conducting successful adoption searches and reunions.
Since then, she’s been using the knowledge she gained to help other adoptees have the same life-changing experience she did.
This is a quick guide on how to find your birth parents with little information from someone who has done it for herself twice and hundreds of times for her clients.
How to Find Your Birth Parents With Little or No Information Quicklinks
How to Find Birth Parents in a Closed Adoption
For obvious reasons, adoptees who were adopted through an open adoption don’t generally need a guide like this one. They usually know their birth parents, and many stay in regular contact with at least one parent.
Open adoptions are the norm these days, but that wasn’t always the case. For adoptees in their thirties, forties, and beyond, closed adoption was commonplace at the time of their birth.
In a closed adoption, adopted children often don’t even know their birth parents’ names, cities of residence, or even the most basic information about their origins.
Here’s how you can increase your chances of finding your birth dad, birth mom, or other biological family members if you were in a closed adoption:
Collect Information You Already Have
While you likely don’t have any identifying information on your birth parents that could help you in your search, you may have some information on your ancestry. This includes medical family history, country of origin (if you were adopted from abroad), and at least some information from your birth certificate.
Even if your adoption record is sealed, in 27 US states you will be able to get non-identifying information about you and your birth parents as an adult adoptee. The information you can request includes:
- The date and location of your birth
- Age, ethnicity, and race of your parents
- The general reason you were given up for adoption
- Whether your birth parents previously had any children
Ask Your Adoptive Parents for Additional Information
Although your adoption was closed, your adoptive parents may have some information about your birth parents. Adoptive families that live in the same city as the birth family of the child they adopted often know some identifiable information, such as the first name of your birth father or mother.
However, if you were placed for adoption from foster care, your former foster parents may know more about your birth parents than your adoptive family does. Try to contact the first foster family you were placed with and see if you can get any information that will help you in your search from them.
Consult a Confidential Intermediary
If your adoption process was a closed adoption, it was likely done through an adoption agency, which acted as a third party between waiting families and your biological parents or as a confidential intermediary.
Contact the adoption agency you were adopted through and ask them whether they offer intermediary services. If the answer is yes, you can request for them to approach your birth parents or a close relative and ask whether they would be interested in making contact with you.
If you were adopted before 1980, then you can also look into the Confidential Intermediary Program that’s available through the court system of your state. Most states have a Confidential Intermediary Program to assist in reunions between biological parents and adoptees.
How to Find Birth Parents for Free
Before you go looking for search and reunion professionals, you can try finding your birth family for free. Many reunion registries you can find online have no cost associated with them. Additionally, you can always use any scraps of info at your disposal to search for your birth parents on social media.
Use an Adoption Search and Reunion Registry
An adoptee search and reunion registry, otherwise known as a mutual consent adoption registry, is like an online bulletin board. It allows adoptees and birth parents to connect if both parties choose to do so…and have created a “notice”—profile—for the other party. You can register to one (or all) of the many free reunion registries online—and hope your birth family is doing the same.
If your parents, siblings, or extended family have registered and have searched for you on an adoption reunion registry website, the site should match you with them once you create your profile.
Even if the site does not match you with your birth parents immediately, your information stays in the site database. If your birth mom or dad ever tries searching for you on the same registry, they should be matched with your profile.
Search for Your Birth Parents On Social Media
Even if contacting the adoption agency you were adopted through and talking to your adoptive parents have given you nothing but the name of your birth parent, you can try your luck at searching online.
Gather all the information you have on your birth mother or father, including their age, race, the high school you think they went to, their profession, any mutual friends, etc. Having all the information at hand will make your online detective work much faster and easier.
Searching for Birth Parents on Facebook
Start your search with Facebook, as people tend to use their real, full names on the website, as opposed to sites like Twitter and Instagram that use handles. If your parents are from a small town with one or two high schools, you can look for alumni of those schools, as most people have their school information on their Facebook profiles.
Facebook allows you to filter by geography, so if you have a sense of which state, city, or town your birth family might be living in, you can narrow the search accordingly.
Searching for Birth Parents on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is another good candidate for your birth parent search. If you have any insight into the professions of your biological dad or mom, or know of companies they worked for, LinkedIn can be dynamite.
Companies on LinkedIn have a registry of employees. Often, this registry includes former employees.
In addition to searching by company (or former company), you can search by location, by job title, and other criteria.
Get Your Adoption Records
Accessing adoption papers is usually free, but it can be tricky, depending on your state.
Your sealed adoption records should include your original birth certificate and other identifying information that may tell you who your birth parents are.
Some states require a court order to release identifying information about your birth parents to you. Although this process is technically free, you may want to hire a professional to help you navigate the court system.
Other states require mutual consent to release identifying information, meaning that your biological parents have the right to refuse.
You should be able to access non-identifying information about your adoption in most states. This will include details such as the family background, health, and city of residence at the time of your adoption.
Visit our finding birth parents by state page to find out the regulations for your state of birth.
How to Find Birth Parents Without their Names
If you’ve tried and failed to get your biological dad and mom’s names, you’re going to have a more difficult time finding them through social media searches or search and reunion registries.
DNA testing is the route most likely to find your birth parents in the absence of having identifying information about them.
Even with a genealogical DNA test, however, results can be confusing. Rarely does an individual get a clear indication of who their biological parents are. More commonly, they get many DNA matches, each with different levels of relatedness (measured in centimorgans).
DNA test results can be confusing and difficult to decode. Genetic genealogy professionals can analyze your muddled test results and identify patterns. Often, a genealogist can deduce parentage by triangulating between different genetic relatives and their centimorgans to the test taker.
In other cases, a skilled genealogist bolsters genetic data from the DNA test with other research, building a case for parentage by bringing many different sources to bear.
Connecting With Your Birth Family through DNA Testing
When Origins Genealogy finds birth parents for our clients, the first step is always an AncestryDNA test, as Ancestry.com has the largest DNA base.
However, there are many DNA testing companies to choose from, so you can take any DNA test you like and look for close matches.
If members of your birth family have taken the same DNA test (e.g., Ancestry, 23andMe, etc), you will see them in your test results as close family tree DNA matches.
(At Origins, we upload your results to several other DNA databases to broaden the chances of getting a match).
With luck, you can identify your dad, mom, or other birth relative in your results.
Often, however, results are far from clear-cut and you may find yourself looking at a muddle of vague genetic connections, with no clear indication how to proceed or make sense of it all.
Hire a Genealogy Professional
If you find yourself looking at your DNA test results, not fully understanding what to make of them, it may be time to contact a professional for help. Genetic genealogists essentially work as a type of highly specialized private detectives with expertise across domains of genetics, online research, and archival research.
Origins Genealogy can help you find your birth mother, birth father, or biological siblings. Additionally, we offer help making sense of unexpected DNA matches, as well as genetic genealogy and general ancestor research services.
How to Find Birth Parents in a Specific State
The most common questions we receive pertain to adoption information accessibility for specific states. Some states make the process of accessing sealed adoption records easy, while others make it very difficult. For more information about finding birth parents in your state, visit our page that explains what each state requires.
Do You Want to Meet Your Birth Parents?
If you are an adult adoptee interested in finding your biological parents, Origins Genealogy can help you in your pursuit. As knowledgeable genealogy professionals, our goal is to assist you in doing exactly what Jenny did years ago—reuniting with your birth family on your terms.
Genetic Genealogy Resources
How to Find Your Birth Parents With Little Information FAQ
Depending on the state, an adoptee has to be at least 18 or 21 years old in order to gain access to information regarding their adoption. However, an adoptive parent or guardian can in some cases request the information on the adoptee’s behalf, even if the adoptee is underage.
It can be frustrating when you can’t get your original birth certificate and other adoption records unsealed. But it doesn’t have to be the end.
When people start talking about adoption and finding birth parents, the common advice is to get access to adoption records and go from there. But if you can’t get those, there are other avenues to take.
Origins Genealogy often can find your biological relatives with DNA matching and our amazing detective work—even without your sealed adoption records.
For a small fee, we can upload a copy of your raw DNA data to multiple databases. With access to all your closest DNA matches, we can study them to see where their pedigrees connect.
We can evaluate your particular case. If we believe your DNA matches provide enough information to succeed in your goals, we will provide a guarantee. There will be no risk of “paying for nothing in return.”
Until recently, it’s been next to impossible to find your birth parents if you were adopted from abroad. However, with the development of DNA testing, finding biological parents from another country has become much more common.
If you’re an international adoptee looking to reunite with your biological family, call Origins at (801) 500-0900, and we’ll give you a free, no-obligation consultation wherein we discuss the specifics of your situation, including your country of origin.
While we are able to help many international adoptees, there are others we are not as certain about.
If we’re not 100% confident we can find your birth parents in your country of origin, we’ll tell you so.
You might as well give Origins a call and discuss your international adoption information with us for free!
In most cases, yes, your biological parents want you to find them. Generally, when parents give a child up for adoption, they spend the rest of their lives wondering if they made the right choice and thinking about how that child is doing.
In most cases, biological parents welcome a reunion with the child they gave up for adoption. If your parents are the rare exception and don’t want a relationship with you, then that’s a risk worth taking, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather take your chances and find out?
Biological mothers, especially, are often haunted by the choice they made to place their child for adoption. Many were young, single mothers when they placed their child for adoption, and were unable to adequately provide for the kid. Many face persistent feelings of failure.
Your biological mother probably wants you to find her.
Many biological fathers are unaware that they fathered a child, much less that they have a child who was placed with adoptive parents. For these birth dads, a reunion can come as an extra shock because they’re also learning for the first time that they’re a dad.
No, Origins Genealogy does not assist with adoptions. We know that unplanned pregnancy is a difficult situation to be in, and choosing to place your child for adoption is a deeply personal choice. We recommend you reach out to an adoption professional in your city who can answer all of your questions about adoption.
There are also some very good adoption blogs and other online resources that answer the most common questions, such as adoption costs, home study issues, adoption searches, child welfare, the adoption process, types of adoption you can choose from etc.
Additionally, for foster care and adoption information that is more legal in nature, such as learning the adoption options and adoption laws of your state, you might consider consulting an attorney versed in adoption law.
Absolutely. Finding your biological dad works the same whether you were adopted or not. Regardless of the reason for his being separated from your life, we still use DNA analysis and other research methods to pinpoint his identity and allow you to get in touch with him.
If you already know your birth mother, our job is easier. You have the DNA of two parents in your genome, but knowing one parent helps us isolate that parent’s genome out of the equation and focus solely on the genome of the missing parent.
From our experience, it’s easier to find your birth parents if the adoption was domestic. Still, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost if you were adopted from abroad. We’ve helped many international adopted persons locate their birth families, and we may be able to do the same for you.
Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss the specifics of your adoption and whether we’ll be able to help you in your search.
Depending on how much information you already have, the cost of finding your birth parents can range from $0 to over $10000. We offer flexible pricing tiers to help you get the best value for your particular case when hiring us to locate your birth family. You can view these genealogy packages on our Origins Genealogy services page.
Each state has a different set of rules when it comes to getting a hold of your adoption records.
In California, you can gain access to non-identifying information on your biological family by sending a formal written request to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).
You can request identifying information via the same route as well. However, due to California’s mutual consent laws, your birth parents will have to agree to share the information before you get to receive it.
If you want to learn more about finding your birth family in the Golden State, check out our guide on how to find biological parents in California.
An adoption home study is an overview of a potential adoptive family’s life. All waiting families must pass certain home study requirements, such as background checks, proof of income, proof of employment, certain medical records, and proof of citizenship.
The fact that your adoptive parents are of the same gender has little to no bearing on our ability to find your birth parents. The process is the same regardless of whether you were adopted through same sex adoption, transracial adoption, semi-open adoption, or a closed one.
We will handle your same-sex adoption exactly the same as we would handle other adoption situations: we’ll examine Ancestry.com and other DNA databases for close genetic matches, and we’ll use our world-class research skills to round out the picture.