Can I Find My Birth Parents After a Closed Adoption?

After a closed adoption, there will likely come a time in such an adoptee’s life when they’re ready to ask some big questions: “Who are my birth parents?” and “Can I find them?” To answer the second question right away, yes, you can usually still find your birth parents even after a closed adoption.

However, since closed adoptions are ones in which birth parents didn’t intend to have any contact after birth, there are some obstacles to finding and making contact with your birth parents after adoption. These may seem daunting, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

How Easy Is It To Find Closed Adoption Birth Parents?

In rare cases, how to find birth parents in a closed adoption is relatively simple: An adoptee from a closed adoption may be able to ask their adoptive parents if they have any information about who their birth parents are. In even rarer cases, adoptive parents may have a copy of an original birth certificate (OBC). And, for those born/adopted in a state with open adoption records, gaining access to their adoption records is pretty easy.

For the vast majority of adoptees, though, the process is a bit more involved and will take some work. You need to first learn how to find birth parents in a closed adoption, and have patience and perseverance as you go forward.

How To Find Birth Parents in a Closed Adoption

Most often, adoptees looking for their birth parents start by seeking out their birth certificates or trying to gain access to their adoption file. Your ability to find information about your birth parents depends on the state in which you were born. The first step is to determine whether your birth state has open, partial/restricted, or sealed adoption records.

States With Open Adoption Records

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina

If you were born in a state with open adoption records, once you are an adult you can request information (such as a copy of your original birth certificate) that will most likely show the names of your birth parents. With that information in hand, you can move forward.

States With Restricted Access To Adoption Records

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington

If you were born in a state with partial or restricted access to adoption records, you will have to jump through a few more hoops to access your birth certificate or other records, like your adoption file. You may have to visit a county clerk’s office, or other government agency, to gain access to your records.

States With Sealed/Very Restrictive Adoption Records

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Finally, if you were born in a state with adoption records that are sealed to the public (in some cases, for 99 years), your task will be even harder (but not impossible); for example, in Texas, only the court that granted an adoption can grant an adoptee access to their original birth certificate.

Something To Keep in Mind

Keep in mind that some states (even ones with open records) may grant birth parents the right to redact their names from an adoption file, or restrict what information is available to adoptees with non-disclosure affidavits. This means that getting access to your birth certificate and/or adoption file may only be one step in a long journey of discovery.

Alternative Way of Finding Birth Parents After a Closed Adoption

While requesting a birth certificate or adoption file tends to be the most traditional method for an adoptee to find their birth parents, it certainly isn’t the only way.

The DNA Test Route

There are a wide variety of DNA kits and genealogy websites available to everyone, such as Ancestry DNA. Their DNA sampling and extensive databases can come in particularly handy to adoptees in search of their biological parents.

Should you go this route, you’ll first need to submit a saliva sample. Then, several weeks later, you’ll get access to your DNA matches. It may not be the case that you find your birth parents directly through such tests, however. Instead, you may be matched with siblings or cousins you never knew you had, and you can get in touch with them. Hopefully, these new contacts will help you put more pieces of the puzzle together.

Making Contact With Birth Parents After Adoption

You now know how to find birth parents in a closed adoption. As you can see, even in the states with the most legal obstacles to accessing adoption records, you can still collect enough pieces of the puzzle to find more information than you’ve ever had about your birth family’s background, medical history, and more.

If you want to make contact with birth parents after adoption, keep in mind that it may have been quite a tough decision for them to create an adoption plan and select a forever family for you. They may choose not to have contact. 

Whatever the case, you will at the very least have found some of the answers you were looking for, and with them, some peace of mind, too.

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