Best practice in adoption is to maintain connections between families of origin and people who are adopted, but for many adoptions that occurred decades ago, there was no contact and no sharing of identifying information. People adopted through domestic (public or private) or intercountry adoptions may search for family members to answer questions about their racial, cultural, and ethnic background or family medical history. People can start the search by looking into their State’s adoption reunion registry and laws about adoption record access. 

Making the decision to search—whether as an adult or young person searching for relatives, a parent searching for a child who was placed for adoption, or an adoptive parent searching for their child’s family of origin—is a complex emotional choice that can impact overall health or cause trauma. It is important for people who are searching to set realistic expectations about what will happen during and after the search and have a support system to help.

People who are searching should recognize that relatives may not be ready to connect. Everyone has a right to privacy if they do not want a relationship.

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