The decision to search and potentially reunify with a birth family member can be a complicated and emotional decision. With it comes the potential for conflicted feelings about hurting the adoptive family, being rejected, or finding additional loss through a search. There is also the possibility of gaining family history, medical/genetic history, more family, and a sense of feeling more complete. Some decide to search as a young person or as an adult, after adoptive parents pass, with the assistance of adoptive family or not, or not at all. It is a very personal decision that should not be judged by others. The drive and desire to know our roots is a very human one, but the decision to not search should be just as respected and supported.
Right now, and for some time, there has been a movement to allow adoptees access to their original birth certificate (*As a point of education, after an adoption occurs, a new “birth” certificate is generated which lists the adoptive parents as the individual’s parents). While there are some instances which allow access to birth/adoption records, usually a court order is needed. Learn more here: Search and Reunion Info
Despite the challenges, many adoptees continue to embark on this journey and utilize a variety of resources. Some use the State Registries, others hire a private investigator. Some have been successful through social media, and some have contacted the agencies that completed their adoption.
In the State of Florida, the Adoption Information Center provides a Reunion Registry: FARR . Interestingly, I learned that at least at one point, 75% of the searches through this registry were to connect with siblings separated through adoption. This may speak to the sibling connection or that some may feel that it is less of an emotional risk to search for a sibling as compared to searching for a parent.
There are many additional venues to search, including registries such as International Soundex Reunion Registry and Adoption Registry Connect, which are worldwide adoptee and birth parent search registries designed to reunite adoptees with their birth parents and siblings. There is also Adoptee’s Liberty Movement Association
Regardless of if and how an individual decides to search for birth family, it is important that the person be supported by family, friends, and/or adoption competent professionals to manage the outcome of the search and/or reunion. This support system can help you to navigate how to search, discuss what your expectations and hopes are, and manage what happens if you do/do not decide to more forward with a reunion.