Times are changing quickly, and reunions that used to seem impossible are happening every day. Growing up I had a couple of documents from the court where my adoption was finalized. There were no names of biological family, just the names of the attorneys and the judge. One page had the case number on it. And I had a letter from Health and Rehabilitative Services that had my non-identifying information in it. The names and case number were completely useless because the records were sealed. The non-identifying info was so vague that any search seemed hopeless.

Over the years I registered with every online adoption registry I could find. Most of them were free, and I didn’t have to have much info to use them. Registry.adoption.com, reunionregistry.org, and the International Soundex Reunion Registry are good ones to start with. Each state usually has their own registry as well. The only problem with adoption registries is that they aren’t very useful unless someone is looking for you. Oftentimes birth parents don’t go searching for the children they placed because they don’t want to intrude or because they feel guilty.

You can go to the “.gov” website of the state you were adopted in to get instructions on how to request your non-identifying info. It should provide a physical description of your birth parents as well as their education level and/or the type of employment they had. The information included varies greatly from case to case. After you get that document, I highly recommend you take a DNA test. I tested with AncestryDNA. My results came back with 310 third cousin or closer matches.

I had no idea what to do with my results, but I researched enough to know they were good. I made a post on DNA Detectives to ask how to proceed. I went to bed and woke up with a message from a search angel offering her services. It took her 24 hours to find my birth parents.

If you don’t have any close matches to work with, you should upload your raw DNA file to Gedmatch. It’s a free website that accepts DNA from multiple testing companies, so you may find some additional matches there. If you need help, ask for it. There are adoption groups and search groups online where people who have been in your shoes are willing to assist you.

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and a mother of two, currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees’ rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life.