Beginners Search Checklist

  • Know your rights. Get a 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.
  • If you are requesting information from a state legislator, be sure to mention your desire for contact.
  • Contact the agency that handled your adoption. Ask what services they provide, how much they charge, and how long the wait is.
  • Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry (ISRR).
  • Find out if the state where you were born has an adoption registry
    (click here for general information on state adoption laws in the U.S.)
  • Talk to your adoptive parents.
  • 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 and in the area you were born in.
  • Find a computer and look for adoption resources on the internet.
  • Take time to understand what your search means to you and why you are taking each step in your search.
  • Read about adoption. Many people recommend The Adoption Triangle by Sorosky, Baran & Panor, Lost and Found by Betty Jean Lifton, and Birthright by Jean A.S. Strauss as being particularly helpful at the beginning of a search. To read about experiences after reunion, try Birthbond, by Judith Gediman and Linda Brown, or, for a perspective on the birthmother's experience, read The Other Mother, by Carole Schafer, or Birthmothers: Women Who have Relinquished Babies for Adoption Tell Their Stories, by Merry Bloch Jones.