What Is an Adoption Registry?

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An adoption registry is a formal avenue for adoptees and birth families to be reunited.  Most of them are free of charge; however, others sometimes involve a fee.  Adoption.com has its own registry where individuals and families can conduct searches by state.  

Steps to navigating an adoption registry 

Adoptionbirthmothers.com recommends that adoptees begin with the following steps among others: (1) get their original birth certificates if possible; (2) get their non-identifying adoption information in order to narrow the search; (3) search for adoption files and relevant information; (4) take note of any stories and/or possible rumors about their adoption; and (5) contact their adoption agency.  These are great places to start and will help immensely in the search and reunion process.  

Child Welfare Information Gateway states that “Most of these reunion registries are ‘passive,’ meaning that both parties …must independently register in order for a match to be made.  The largest passive registry is the International Soundex Reunion Registry. This free service is open to all adopted adults over 18 years of age, all birth parents, and all adoptive parents of adopted children under 18 years of age.”¹


  • There is minimal information about success rates, but it is believed that ‘active’ registries have much higher effectiveness statistically.²
  • If you are searching for a family member, become prepared emotionally as much as you can.  Remember that the search and the discovery are two very different things.  If you can find a support group, either locally or online, or even perhaps a therapist do so if it means added support for you and your journey.

For more information regarding search and reunion, visit AdoptionInformation.com for a comprehensive course.


¹https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/f_search.pdf. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Searching for Birth Families.



Nancy J. Evans Hall is married to the love of her life and has a wonderful teenage daughter. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A.T. in Humane Education. She had the privilege of studying at Oxford University in England for a while and eventually moved overseas for nearly 4 years. She enjoys traveling, writing, yoga and Pilates, rock music and festivals, and all things animal-related–she has several rescued pets. She currently works as an academic advisor at a state college.

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