There are many different ways to go about finding your biological family. One way is to contact the adoption agency if one was used. Sometimes they have been given permission to share the identities of your birth parents after you are of legal age. As more states open adoption records, it is also useful to contact the Department of Health and Human Services in the state where you were adopted to see if you are eligible to legally obtain your original birth certificate.

The Internet has also been a useful tool in adoption searches. Not only are there many search groups on Facebook, but there are adoption-specific search groups as well. There are also several online adoption registries. You can search a registry for facts that seem familiar to you and your adoption or leave the details you have for your birth relatives to find if they come looking. Most states have registries of their own, but there are also some online that cover the whole United States.

The search route that is getting the most attention right now is DNA testing. It has gained popularity for good reason. DNA has been the miracle answer for many, but it can be complicated. I highly recommend managing your expectations. There are a few different testing companies. I had great success with Ancestry, so that’s the one I recommend. It’s easy to use, and they have the largest user database.

It takes four to six weeks for the test to process. You should use that time to request your non-identifying information from the state if you don’t already have it. Then you’ll get a list of your matches. Some match with a parent right away, but that’s definitely not the norm. More likely, you will end up with cousin matches. You’ll need to work through their family trees to find where you fit in. I do not recommend contacting your matches at all. Often, you will get in touch with someone who has no idea about the adoption, and that person will stir negativity in the family before you reach a parent.

If you have no idea what you are doing, please seek help. There are plenty of people in DNA groups on Facebook or in different search groups that enjoy helping people with searches for free. They have experience and are very good at what they do. When you do find your birth family, take things slow and give them time to process your arrival. Trust me, it will be worth it.


Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and 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. You can read her blog at //