Reuniting with Birth Family: How to Search for Your Biological Relatives


Families come in all shapes and sizes. Many of us are lucky enough to grow up with our biological parents and siblings, but for those who were adopted, there is sometimes a deep-seated desire to learn more about the people who share our DNA. This is perfectly understandable, of course, no matter how much you may love your adoptive family. It’s also useful to know who your birth parents are in case there are genetic health problems you need to know about.

Starting a search for biological relatives is not something you should do without giving it a great deal of thought. You might not like what you find. It’s also possible your biological relatives don’t want to be found for whatever reason, so be prepared for rejection.

Times have Changed

There was a time when the only way to search for biological relatives was to write to an adoption agency and hope that your parents were willing to be found. And if there was no information available for any reason, short of hiring a private detective, your options were limited.

Today, it’s a lot easier to trace biological relatives. There is a host of resources out there, from people finder and ancestry websites to DNA home test kits and social media. Where you begin will depend on how much information you already have.

Ask Loved Ones

First, if you can, ask your adoptive parents about your history. They might have some key information you are unaware of. Even if you feel bad asking, it’s worth being honest about your intentions.

DNA Testing

If you know nothing, consider using a DNA test kit. Your details will be uploaded to a global database. Sites like 23andme offer automatic family tree builders, so you can find long-lost distant relatives who might be able to fill in the gaps in your personal history. Be aware, however, that once your data is on there, you have effectively given up all semblance of privacy.

People Finder Sites

When you have some information to hand, a quick and easy option is to type it into a people finder website. These sites let you search by name, address, telephone number, and more. Use them to find out contact details for anyone you think might be a biological relative.

Adoption Registers

There are also websites that specialize in reuniting parents and adopted children. is the largest adoption registry in the world. Search by name or DNA.

Social Media

Social media is another rich source of information. Type in a name and see what comes up. It helps if your relatives have unusual names or you can pinpoint their location, as there are literally millions of John Smiths out there.

Government Records

Government records might help you find your long-lost relatives. As long as you know which state you were born in, you can search local government records for documents relating to your adoption. You may be able to request a copy of your original birth certificate in some states.

Be sensitive when reaching out to people who may be your biological relatives. Not everyone will welcome the intrusion, as the circumstances surrounding the adoption might be traumatic. It’s a good idea to have some counseling before you take this momentous step, to prepare you for what lies ahead.

Good luck in your search!


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