Organizations that assist adopted people, birthparents, adoptive parents and others in identifying and locating birth relatives. National organizations include the ADOPTEES' LIBERTY MOVEMENT ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS, the provocatively named Bastard Nation and CONCERNED UNITED BIRTHPARENTS INC. The INTERNATIONAL SOUNDEX REUNION REGISTRY, while not a search group per se, has a philosophy that makes it more than simply a passive registry. It is clearly linked to most of the search groups.
There are also many other small organizations within states. The AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS serves as an umbrella for many of the search groups.
The first search group was Orphan Voyage and was founded by adopted adult Jean Paton in 1953.
Some search groups actively seek to change state laws; for example, many search groups are in favor of OPEN RECORDS. Groups vary in their policies.
Most groups will only help adult adopted persons seek birthparents or help birthparents seek adopted adults. Other groups assist adoptive parents who wish to seek birthparents when their adopted children are still minors.
Each group's policies and procedures should be considered before joining a particular organization. Most groups provide helpful hints on searching and recommended readings as well as emotional support from successful searchers. Others charge extensive fees and perform the actual searches. They may charge high fees for finding information that is relatively inexpensive to identify.
It is also true that some adoption agencies charge searchers. Whatever the source, adopted people, birthparents or adoptive parents considering the use of such a search should find out what the fee (or estimated fee) will be. If agencies provide an hourly rate, then the inquirer should request an estimated number of hours the search will take as well as estimated length of time. The customer should also state that she or he expects the search service to comply with federal and state laws, not only because it's important to abide by laws but also because customers should not become entrapped.
Books on the advisability of searching or actual search techniques written from the perspective of search groups include The Adoption Triangle by Arthur D. Sorosky, Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor (Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984) and The Adoption Searchbook by Mary Jo Rillera (Triadoption Publications, 1985). There are also many newer books. (See also SEARCH.)
Find more information on search groups
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
To see local Adoption resources, please select a location (U.S. only):
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.