Adoption Frequently Asked Question #8
How can I find my birth parents or birth relatives?
State laws regulate the release of information from adoption records. Many States have established adoption registries (also called “reunion registries”) or confidential intermediary services that can provide information from adoption records (including birth family medical history) to adopted adults, when possible, under State law. Adoption registries also assist interested adopted adults, birth parents, and birth relatives with locating one another. The reunion registry, located in the State where the adoption was finalized, is generally a good place to start both for those interested in accessing adoption or medical records and those interested in searching for family members. Registries and intermediary service regulations vary from State to State. Registries may be either “passive” (meaning that both parties (e.g. birth parent or adopted person) must register for a match to be made or receive identifying information from adoption records) or “active” (meaning that when either party registers a search is initiated for the other party for the purposes of either requesting a meeting or to request the release of identifying information from adoption records). Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, provides a listing of State reunion registries and confidential intermediary services through its online National Foster Care & Adoption Directory at http://www.childwelfare.gov/nfcad/index.cfm. To access the list of these services, select the State(s), click on the box next to Accessing Adoption Records, and click on “Go.”
Also, you may wish to visit the Search & Reunion section of the Information Gateway website (http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/search/) for resources to assist you in obtaining birth and/or adoption records, searching for birth relatives, reuniting with birth relatives, dealing with the lifelong emotional impact of adoption, and helping provide information for when your child wants to search for relatives.
For information on the availability of accessing adoption records in each State, you may find the publication, Access to Adoption Records: Summary of State Laws, helpful (http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/infoacc...).
For comprehensive information and resources on Adoption, see the Information Gateway website at http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/.