In a closed adoption, all identifying information for both parties is sealed by the state the adoption took place in. Many adoptees put off adoption searches for birth family because they have so little to go on. For that reason, DNA testing has become an extremely popular search tool for adoptees. Many think the specific person they are looking for has to have been tested. Thankfully, that is not the case. You can use cousin matches to find your birth family. There are other options and tools you can use as well.

I have been reunited with my biological family. I have also participated in both my sisters’ searches. Additionally, I am a member of many adoption groups. Based on my experience, here is what I recommend.

If you do not have the non-identifying information of your birth parents yet, you need to get it. Visit the .gov website of the state your adoption took place in for instructions on how to request it. Next, register with all the adoption registries you can find, starting with,, and Most states also have their own adoption registry. Then, you should DNA test. There are several testing companies, but I recommend Ancestry because they have the largest user database. Your DNA matches will come back with a predicted relationship. Anything 3rd cousin or closer is good. You can use the public trees of your matches plus public records to create your own tree and find out where you fit in. If you need help, seek out a search angel. If your matches come back 4th cousin or further, you should upload your raw DNA from multiple companies. You may pick up additional matches there. If you are still unsuccessful, you may just need to give it time. New people are testing every day.

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 //