How to Locate a Child Who Was Adopted


If you put a child up for adoption and now want to locate that child, you are not alone. The trend for birth parents seeking their now-adult children is on the rise, ever since 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Adoption laws protect the privacy of minor children in every state. But, once the adopted child becomes an adult, you can conduct a search.

Step 1

Prepare emotionally for the search. It might be beneficial for you to read about other birth parents who searched and what their reunions were like. You may also want to join a support group to provide emotional support and practical information, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Step 2

Gather all the information you know about the child you put up for adoption. This includes the birth certificate, hospital records, the amended name of your birth child, the names of the adoptive parents and the area where the adopted parents resided.

Step 3

Research the state laws for the state where the child was born and adopted. Some states offer reunion registries.

Step 4

Register with a reunion registry. States and private organizations have registries set up where you can announce the fact that you are searching for your birth child. These registries typically only work when both parties, the adopted child and the birth mother, sign up. These registries are passive, meaning they do not actively search for you, but they are a place where people can go. The largest registry is the International Soundex Reunion Registry.

Step 5

Sign up with an active registry. Active registries charge you to conduct a search for your birth child. These registries can be with the state, or they can be privately owned. Results are usually better with active registries than with passive ones, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Step 6

Contact the adoption agency you used. Ask for consent to release information.

Step 7

Hire a professional. If you have no luck on your own, you can hire a professional searcher. Research the reputation of the searcher before you hire her by checking references or checking with the Better Business Bureau. The Independent Search Consultants, a nonprofit organization, can certify searchers. Searchers can also be private detectives who have adoption search experience. Sometimes professionals can gain access to information that you cannot.


  • Be prepared for the reunion to not be what you expected. Your birth child may reject you. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 9 to 15 percent of reunions end in rejection.



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