For many, the desire to know their biological parents is a deep and essential part of their identity. However, finding your birth parents can be challenging and emotional, especially when you don’t have their names.
This can feel like an insurmountable obstacle, but you can take some steps to uncover their identity. Whether you have non-identifying information on your birth parents or are starting the search from scratch, this guide will equip you with the tools to begin your journey.
Why Don’t All Adoptees Know Their Birth Parents’ Names?
The most common reason for not knowing your birth parents’ names is the restrictions imposed by closed adoptions. These adoption structures disallow adoptees from contacting their birth parents or obtaining information about them.
While finding your birth parents in a closed adoption is still possible, the process will take some work. Birth parents can redact their names from every file, even in states with open adoption records.
What Age Can You Start Searching For Your Birth Parents?
The age at which you can legally search for your birth parents varies depending on the jurisdiction and the laws governing adoption in your country or state. In many places, the legal age to begin searching for birth parents is 18, when a person becomes a legal adult.
However, this age varies by area, and some states may have additional requisites, such as consent from adoptive parents or court approval, before beginning a search. Research the laws in your area to determine when you can legally start searching for your birth parents and what you’ll need to do it.
How To Find A Biological Parent Without A Name
Consider these tips when searching for a biological parent without knowing their name.
Gather As Much Information As Possible
In your search, you can gather some information that could point to your birth parents, such as:
- Non-identifying data: This information might include physical characteristics, medical history, ethnicity, education, and occupation. You can obtain these from your adoption agency or social worker.
- Adoption records: While closed adoption records won’t include your original birth certificate, they may have other information like the names of your birth parents’ siblings, your place of birth, medical history, and the final adoption decree or court order.
- Information from relatives: If you don’t have any documentation available, get leads from relatives and family members with knowledge about your birth parents.
- Adoption registries: Many websites allow adoptees to sign up and request information about their biological parents. Alternatively, you can consult background check systems.
If you gather minimal information from your initial search, you can try your hand at DNA kits and genealogy websites.
When you submit your DNA, specialists test your chromosomal markers against other DNA samples for potential genetic links. These tests can determine how close this link’s proximity is and identify whether a match is your biological parent, sibling, or relative.
Some popular genetic testing programs for adoptees include the following:
- 23andMe: This website provides two options for gene testing: general ancestry or general ancestry and health. Adoptees can find birth parents e identify potentially life-saving information about their health.
- Ancestry DNA: Not only does Ancestry link you to family members, but it also provides a visual representation of your family tree.
- Family Tree DNA: Unlike other DNA testing programs, Family Tree DNA is a fully customizable gene testing program that allows users to more closely follow their maternal line, paternal line, or both. Based on this information, the program can develop highly-detailed family trees and even include divorced family members.
Investigate Your Clues
Once you have your information, it’s time to connect the dots. One of the simplest ways to piece together information is to use the internet for additional clues. For instance, if you know your birth parent’s occupation and place of birth, you can plug their job title and state into Google to narrow the search.
You can also use information like your birth parents’ alma maters and visit social media groups. Alternatively, you can contact their schools for access to yearbooks.
Consider Your Legal Options
Is your online search constantly leading to a dead end? Consider your legal options. Here are a few avenues you can try.
Request To Unseal Adoption Records
The process for filing a court order to unseal adoption records can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific laws and regulations in place.
Generally, you’ll first have to determine your eligibility for this request. If you’re eligible, obtain legal representation with experience in adoption law. These lawyers can prepare a case and the documentation it requires.
Once you file a petition, you may have to attend a hearing before a judge. During this hearing, you’ll plead your case and explain why you want the records unsealed. Decisions can take anywhere from weeks to months.
Work With An Adoption Advocate
An adoption advocate is a professional who provides support, guidance, and resources to individuals involved in or affected by adoption. Adoption advocates may come from various professional backgrounds, such as social work, counseling, or the law. They may work independently or as part of an agency or organization specializing in adoption services.
One of the services these advocates provide is reunion assistance. This process is similar to petitioning to unseal adoption records where only your advocate does the work. They can help you access documents like ancestry birth records.
Hire A Private Investigator
Hiring a private investigator can go a long way if you need professional assistance finding your birth parents. Private investigators can access specialized databases often used for criminal records and background checks. They can uncover valuable contacts through these databases, such as co-workers, family members, and friends.
Your PI will then interview these contacts to discover more identifying information about your birth parents. They can even come across hard-to-find documents like laços de casamento. However, a PI cannot advise what you want to do with the information they find – that’s up to you.
It’s important to note that hiring a private investigator can be expensive, and there is no guarantee of success. However, many adoptees have succeeded in their search with the help of an experienced and dedicated investigator. Before hiring an investigator, you must do your research to ensure that you work with a trustworthy professional.
Be Emotionally Prepared
Finding your birth parents is one thing, being emotionally prepared is another. If you successfully find your birth parents, you’ll want to recognize and temper your expectations.
If you don’t know someone, fantasizing about how they might be is normal. However, you’ll have to prepare for the possibility that your birth parents won’t meet your expectations or even be as keen to meet you.
Should your birth parents be amicable to a meeting, prepare your questions. Consider asking about what they do for a living, whether they have other children, and what they do daily.
No matter how innocuous a question may seem to you, ask them sensitively. For example, if your birth parents have other children, asking why they chose to give you up can come off as accusatory.
Finally, set your boundaries. For instance, if you want to meet your birth parents for closure, it may not make sense to keep seeing them after your meeting. If you plan to stay in contact, consider meeting in a public place before inviting them to your home or theirs. Meeting in someone’s home can feel too personal or invasive.
Finding your birth parents is a challenging and emotional journey, but working with an adoption advocate and getting support from friends and family can enrich it. If you’ve been wondering how to find a parent without a name, we hope the above tips have made your search easier.