American Adoption Congress: Educating, Empowering, Evolving Donate

Beginners Search Checklist

Revised 07/09/2018
Beginning Search Steps
Adoption Search is an individual journey in search of self-identity for adult adoptees.  Each adoption will have different steps that are necessary to take to reach your goal.  Here se some standard steps to guide you that have been successful for those who have walked this path before you.
  • Know your rights. Get a copy or updated copy of the adoption records law for the state where your adoption took place at your local library, online, or from the office of your state legislator.  With changing laws to OBC access happening frequently some states with formerly sealed records have experienced major law changes to allow equal access.
  • Contact the agency that handled your adoption. Ask what post adoptive services they provide, how much they charge, and how long the wait is. You will want to obtain a copy of your non-identifying information as soon as possible.  This is a social history of your biological family, which can include physical descriptions, ages, occupations and family structure.
  • Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR).
  • Find out if the state where you were born has an adoption registry and register.  If your family is seeking you, they also would have been encouraged to register.
    (click here for general information on state adoption laws in the U.S.)
  • Talk to your adoptive parents ‘if’ you feel comfortable doing so.  They may have documents received at the time of your adoption that could include your birth name, or a fact sheet given to them with a brief family social history of the birth family.
  • Write down everything you can that you already know about your adoption. Even if you already have non-identifying information, think about asking for additional information about your birth parents' health, education, background, and interests.
  • Join a support group in your area if there is one available. Currently Being updated.  
  • Look for adoption resources on the internet.
  • Look for DNA as a search option resources on the internet such as, but not limited to, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and FTDNA. These direct to consumer test sites provide easy DIY DNA testing to connect you with biological relatives and can greatly enhance the search process.
Take time to understand what your search means to you and why you are taking each step in your search. Not every search is the same.