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You’ve made the difficult and emotional decision to search for your birth mother. So, what do you do first and where do you start looking?

How does your journey begin? How to find my birth mother? How to conduct a free people search?

The first place you can begin to gather information for your birth mother search is at home, from your adoptive or foster parents, or whoever raised you. Any information and paperwork they have may be useful to point you in the right direction. The name of the organization and the lawyer(s) that handled the adoption should be found in the paperwork. They will have their own records that you may be able to peruse. Within these papers, you may find the name of the hospital where you were born and the state it’s located in. In most cases, it is your right to have access to certain hospital and state records related to your birth and adoption, sometimes for a fee. Do as much research as you can in this area.

You may also be able to glean a surprising amount of information from friends and relatives. People talk and gossip, and over the years information can be spread to many people through word of mouth. Ask around and make everyone aware that you’ve begun the process of finding your birth mother. Take time to question and speak to any and everyone that may know even the tiniest bit of information about you being adopted. It could be the key to unlocking answers you are searching for. You can also revisit the pool of information that you’ve obtained over the years, tidbits that may have seemed inconsequential during childhood may take on a whole different meaning at the present moment.

Getting your original birth certificate should make your search much easier as it will have your birth mother’s name on it. The rules are different in every state, so depending on where your adoption took place, you will have to check the law. If your adoption took place in the following;

Maine
Alaska
Kansas
New Hampshire
Oregon
Alabama

You are allowed a copy of your original birth certificate from the state. If it took place in:

Ohio
Washington State
Colorado
Connecticut
Illinois
Indiana
Montana
New Jersey
Rhode Island

You will have to check the laws, as they’ve all passed recent adoptee rights legislation. If you can’t get a copy for whatever reason, continue to pursue acquiring it, as laws and circumstances may change at any time. You can check the latest state laws on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. Original birth certificates can be obtained by completing forms and paying a fee at the state’s Office of Vital Records.

You can also request “non-identifying” information from the state, which can be any other information they may know about your adoption, without releasing any names. The non-identifying information will be released to you even if you’re not able to get the birth certificate. It could be relevant information such as a physical description of your birth mother and may be useful so its important and should always be obtained. Most states have a variety of registries, both official and unofficial, that you can sign up for such as reunion registries. Most of them have poor rates of success but the following are worth a try:

The International Soundex Reunion Registry (http://www.isrr.net/)
Adoption.com (http://registry.adoption.com/), and
G’s Adoption Search Registry ( http://www.gsadoptionregistry.com).

You can then visit the organization that handled your adoption to find out as much as you can from them. Your experience, good or bad, will depend on the particular organization and some may even ask you to pay for their services. It is unfortunate, but some of these agencies are self-serving and will not have your best interests in mind.

DNA testing will be extremely helpful in your search. If possible, test at the top three companies to perform a broader search for a biological match. There are people who find family members soon after testing, who had previously spent many years using other methods with no success. Autosomal testing is recommended. For autosomal testing, start with any one of the top three companies. A closed adoption is not as insurmountable with DNA testing. It will also help you find other family members you’ve never met.

Technology has created so many outlets such as social media and other online resources to assist with looking for birth mother. For best results, google “How to Use Social Media for An Adoption Search.” Then there’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, which can produce results in a much shorter time as there are billions of people on these sites worldwide, each and every day. There are adoptees that find their birth mother with little information after utilizing the internet. Another site to try is https://www.searchangels.com; this site will help you locate people who will search for your birth mother, most times at no cost to you.

It is important to record every piece of information, every detail, during the search process. Also, keep in mind when searching, your personal information as you know it may be incorrect, birth date, where you were born and birth mother’s information. Best of luck in your search and reunion!