There is no specific road to take when searching for birth family. Every person’s path is different. From the information I have collected from groups over the years, as well as my own search, I can give you some successful tools.
1. Check to see if your birth state has unsealed pre-adoption birth records.
If you can access your original birth certificate and the names have not been redacted, you are good to go.
2. Apply for your non-identifying information.
It may include a basic physical description and age of your parents. It may also include medical information. You can request this from the adoption agency if one was used or from the Department of Children and Families Post Adoption Unit.
3. Search and register with the mutual consent adoption registries.
I usually recommend Adoption.com, ISRR.org, as well as the state registry for the state in which the adoption was handled. There are many other registries online. The more you use, the better your chances are.
4. Join Facebook groups.
I love Adoptee Central, but there are many adoptee search groups. Also search for a Facebook search group that is specific to your state. These groups not only help you search for family, but also provide advice and support along your journey.
5. Take a DNA test.
The top two companies are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Both are good tests and have been successful. I prefer AncestryDNA. They have the largest database (over five million users) and the cost is very reasonable. They also run sales on their tests frequently.
Once you have ordered your kit from whichever company you choose, join the Facebook group DNA Newbie. Learn what you can from posts in the group while you wait several weeks for your test to be processed. Once your results are ready, you will get a list of matches based on the amount of DNA you share with other people in the database. There will be a relationship prediction from each one. Anyone predicted as third cousin or closer is promising. You can use your match’s public family trees with public records and your non-id info to narrow down to your birth parents. If you need help with your results, you can always ask questions in DNA Newbie or your adoption groups.
6. Upload your raw DNA to this site.
GEDmatch accepts DNA from multiple testing companies, so you may end up with additional matches. The service is absolutely free. Even if you found your family using your original test matches, you should still do this step. You may help others find their families.
If you have used all of these tools and still have not found your family, do not get discouraged. More people are joining registries and testing DNA every day. It’s just a matter of time.
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.