Many adopted people and birth relatives decide to search for one another at some point during their lives. Depending on the State in which the adoption occurred and individual circumstances, information from adoption records or the adopted person's original birth certificate provide a starting place when conducting a search. Adoption reunion registries, both private and State-operated, are another source of information when searching for birth relatives. This section provides resources that address how to prepare for a search, access reunion registries and support groups, conduct a search within the United States, and conduct a search for birth relatives in another country.
The 5 Steps of How to Find an Adopted Child
Guides birth parents in searching for their adopted child by working with social workers, researching State regulations, and using online resources.
Access to Adoption Records
Best Practices for Connecting With Birth Family via DNA Search
Children's Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (2019)
Provides guiding questions for adoptees to consider as they initiate contact with birth families. This resource also highlights steps that individuals can take to protect their privacy and initiate conversations.
Find Birth Parents Guide
Describes how adoptees can conduct research about their birth families and prepare for reconnection.
International Social Service USA
Provides a range of social work services, including help for those who want to find their birth family abroad.
National Adoption and Directory Search
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Access State-specific birth family and adoptee search support groups.
Putative Father Registries
Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys
Defines putative father registries, their purpose, and who has access to them. A State listing of putative father registries is also included.
Search and Reunion in Domestic and International Adoption [Webinar]
Center for Adoption Support and Education (2018)
Discusses reasons that adoptees choose to search for birth relatives, outlines the search and reunion process, and describes common relational dynamics present during reunions. This resource also outlines special considerations in international search and reunion cases.
State Putative Father Registries (PDF - 232 KB)
New Hampshire Judicial Branch (2021)
Lists the agency and contact information of putative father registries in States that maintain a registry.