Gather all the adoption information that you have. Start the search process by collecting all documentation that you have about the adoption and reviewing the information for any helpful information. Try to determine the orphanage or area where your child came from and read through your paperwork, looking for any background on your child's birth parents.
Contact your adoption agency, where you may be able to obtain more specific information about your child's adoption. Some agencies are willing to assist in your search for your child's birth parents or may be able to put you in contact with someone who can further your search.
Request your child's records from China through a friend living in China or through the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate office. The U.S. Department of State notes that birth certificates and adoption records can be requested from China, though they are not always available or accurate.
Join a support group. There are many such groups available for parents of adopted Chinese children. Talk to other parents about their experiences to gain helpful tips on continuing your search for your child's birth parents.
Work with a professional search company. Several companies offer services for families seeking the birth parents of their adopted child. When selecting a search service, ensure that they have experience working in China or with international adoption searches. The Research China company provides assistance in determining the likely success of your search, while the International Social Service works with adopted persons and their families seeking international birth parents.
Obtaining records from China through an embassy may take several months or longer, so be prepared to wait for the information you request.
Obtain information about your adoption. Determine where and when you where born, and the court that granted the adoption. Ensure you know your adoptive father's name and your adoptive mother's maiden name.
Determine if your birth parents have granted the release of identifying information. Pennsylvania only releases birth parent information if one or both parents have completed a "Biological Parent Registration Identification Form," and have filed the form with the Department of Health. You must submit an "Application for Certified Copy of Birth Record," to the Department of Health along with a processing fee and a copy of a government-issued identification form, such as a driver's license or passport. When filling out the form, explain that you are requesting information on if your biological parents have filed consent in the "Intended use of certified copy" field. If your parent has agreed to a records release, you will be provided with contact information.
Petition for birth parent contact. If your birth parents have not agreed to contact, your request is forwarded to an adoption court, typically the one where your adoption took place. Under Pennsylvania law, you may petition the court to have an intermediary contact your birth parents and attempt to acquire their consent for the release of contact information. You may also choose to have the adoption agency contact your birth parents to obtain their consent. Contact the court that completed your adoption for the specific requirements for filing a petition.
Continue to check with the Department of Health. If you do not receive contact information for your birth parents after your first attempt, you may file another request with the Department of Health at any time, as Pennsylvania does not alert you if your birth parent grants consent after you have filed your initial request.
Things You Will Need
- Application for certified copy of birth record
If birth parent consent is not granted, contact information will not be released.
Complete a records request form and consent to the release of your information. California allows birth parents and adopted persons who have reached the age of 18 to complete a "Consent for Contact" form that grants the release of names and contact information from the sealed record. For adopted persons who are 21 or older, a "Adoptions Information Act Statement" may be filled out, allowing the release of birth parent information from the sealed record, so long as the birth parent has consented to the release. California's Department of Social Services provides links to both forms on its website.
Determine where your adoption took place. If you are unable to find the desired information through the state's mutual consent program, you must find out which county the adoption was finalized in. Talk to your adoptive parents or contact the adoption agency that assisted with the adoption if you do not have this information.
File a petition with the Superior Court in the county that your adoption took place. You may request the original birth certificate and other documentation in the sealed record. Contact the court directly to receive the petition documentation and learn about its specific procedures and policies. The court has sole discretion to release information from the sealed record and typically allows the release if you can prove good cause.
Things You Will Need
- California Adoptions Information Act Statement
- California Consent for Contact form
Adopted persons seeking just an original birth certificate may petition the Superior Court in the county that they reside in.
Contact them first. Showing up on a birth parent's doorstep as a way of introducing yourself will be awkward for both of you and may make your birth parent uncomfortable. Instead, use the contact information to call or write to them. Corresponding before meeting face to face will give both of you a better sense of one another and will help you decide if you are making the right decision.
Explain your intentions. A birth parent that has not seen the child they gave up for adoption a few decades earlier may be suspicious of the motives behind the child trying to contact them. Make it clear when you contact your birth parent that you do not wish for a confrontation, you are not contacting them for money and that you are reaching out to them with the best of intentions.
Meet in a public place. You may not know anything about your birth parent except that they gave you life. Considering that this person is essentially a stranger, it is a good idea to take precautions that you would take when meeting anyone for the first time. Set up your meeting in a public place such as a restaurant, coffee shop or park. Having a public meeting will also help both of you stay relaxed.
Consider their feelings. Your birth parent had reasons for giving you up for adoption. Whether you agree with the decision or not, it is important to remember that they thought it was what was best for you at the time. Remember this when approaching them. They may be experiencing feelings of guilt or regret over giving you up and this may cause them to be hesitant about meeting you when you approach them.
Take it slow. You cannot expect to have an instant relationship with your discovered birth parent after approaching them. Not only is this an unrealistic expectation, but you may find that it is also not the best thing for either of you. Approaching your birth parent will be a discovery for both of you and getting to know one another will be a gradual process.
According to Ellen Singer, a clinical social worker and adoption specialist at the Center for Adoption Support and Education, Inc., the teenage years are a quest for separation from parents and identity formation. Your adopted teen may struggle more deeply with these questions of identity than his non-adopted peers as he considers both his birth family and adoptive family and the role they play in shaping his identity. If he is a different race than his adoptive family or knows very little about his past, he may feel as though he doesn't have a community with which he can identify.
Help Fill in the Gaps
The Child Welfare Information Gateway recommends that adoptive parents give teenagers all the information they have about birth families and the circumstances around the child's placement for adoption. If you do not have access to such information, explore with her what might have occurred -- what were circumstances like in her birth country during the time of her birth? Was her birth mother young? Talk about your child's birth parents with balance and respect, avoiding criticism and judgment.
The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that some parents are reluctant to discipline an adopted child, fearing that the child will stop loving them. It is your parental duty to help your child grow and mature through discipline. While the focus for adopted teens should always be on attachment and relationship-building first -- especially for children who have suffered from abuse in their past -- discipline can be an effective part of this. If your child suffered from neglect and deprivation, forgo the removal of privileges and activities since this may be a setback to him. Opt instead for a "time-in", where your child is required to spend some quiet time near you at home.
Empower Your Teen
Give your teenager the tools she needs to deal with issues that may arise in school or among her peers because of her adoption. Help your teen anticipate questions that may be directed toward her about her birth family and the circumstances leading to her adoption. Talk through what information she feels comfortable sharing and what she would like to keep private. Give her permission to set boundaries and allow her to practice responses that she can give to others when they ask invasive questions.
Find out from the parents who adopted you where and when your adoption took place. Michigan requires that all requests for information from adoption records, including information about the birth parents, must be made through the adoption agency involved or the court where the adoption was finalized.
Write to the court or adoption agency to request your adoption records. Once your request has been received, the court or agency will access the state's Central Adoption Registry to determine if your birth parents have granted or denied the release of their information. If identifying information from your adoption file is eligible to be released, you will be provided with your birth parents' information so you may contact them.
Request the assistance of a confidential intermediary if your adoption took place between May 28, 1945 and September 12, 1980. You must petition the court that finalized your adoption to have an intermediary appointed. The intermediary works to locate your birth parents and gain their approval for having their identifying information released to you.
File a petition with the court that finalized your adoption to have your records released if all other attempts prove unsuccessful. The court will consider all information and decide if identifying information from your adoption record can be released. However, the court is not required to release any information from your sealed record.
File additional requests periodically. Birth parents are able to agree to or restrict the release of their identifying information at any time by submitting a form to the state registry. If your initial attempts at locating your birth parents prove unsuccessful, make a second request at a later date.
All requests for identifying information must be made in writing, not by phone or e-mail.