The majority of adoptions are closed, meaning all pertinent records are sealed to the public. Unless the adoption took place in one of the few states that give adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates you likely do not have the names of your birth parents. Some people don’t know you can obtain your non-identifying information from the state the adoption was finalized in. It provides a vague physical description of the birth parents and some employment and medical history. It may not seem like much to go on but it can help greatly in identifying parents after DNA testing.

Many adoptees have had success with DNA, myself included. Some birth parents, though, either don’t know much about it, or they assume that you are not going to come looking for them. If you do decide to take a DNA test, Ancestry has the largest database. You can use cousin matches to work through your family tree to see where you fit. If you find your biological parents, you don’t know if they will want contact. There is sometimes a fear of rejection that you have to overcome first before reaching out.

You may end up dealing with a birth family that doesn’t want to communicate, or you may find one that speaks to you for a while and then stops. Or, like in my case, you may track down your family only to find that one or both of your parents passed away before your search was over. There is a never-ending possibly of scenarios of how your story may play out. Search and reunion is not always easy. The only thing I can tell you for certain is that I have never met an adoptee who regretted searching, even if things didn’t go well in the end.


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.