I would like to know my birth parents. What do I need to do?

First, it is perfectly reasonable that you would want to know your birthparents. Most adopted people, want to know why they were placed for adoption. In addition, you birthparents may have valuable medical information. The IAC, has always practiced open adoption so that adoptees know their birthparents, and can get the answers they need to their questions.

Unfortunately, the process of finding your birthparents can be very difficult. Here are a series of steps you can take:

1. Talk to your adoptive parents. See if they will give you any information they may have. Sometimes they have the original birth certificate or even know your birthparents. I do realize that many adoptees don't search until their adoptive parents have died, or are afraid that their adoptive parents will be upset by the search. This may be true, so you will have to judge for yourself, if you can approach your adoptive parents for information.

2. Contact the adoption agency or attorney that arranged your adoption. They can definitely give you non-identifying information. In addition, your birthparents may have contacted them as well asking them to release their information if you asked. You should also leave a letter with the agency or attorney stating that if your birthparents contact them to please give them your contact information.

3. If your state has an adoption reunion registry, sign up. If you birthparents also are registered or register, they will notify you.

4. If you are really lucky you live in a state with open adoption records. If this is the case, and you are 18 years or older, you can just ask the state for a copy of your original birth certificate. Unfortunately, some states have limited open adoption record laws (like you had be be born before a certain date). Here is a link describing the laws on open records:

You will notice that California is not listed as having open adoption records. This is because records are open on a County by County basis in California and not on a statewide basis. At this point 23 of the 58 California counties have open records. If you were born in one of the 23 open records counties you just need to go to the County Courthouse and request your original birth certificate. If you are under 18, your adoptive parent(s) can make the request, if they are willing. Here is a link to other information that the State of California publishes about searching for birthparents or adopted children: http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/PG1314.htm

5. If you know the name(s) of your birthparents and their approximate age, it is usually pretty easy to find them using an online search. This may cost a small amount of money, but you can probably find them. Additionally, there are many paid services that may assist with your search, such as http://birthparentfinder.com.

6. If you do not know their name(s), but you do know what state and county you were born in, the date of your birth, the time of your birth, and the hospital, it is pretty easy to go to the County Courthouse and look at all the birth certificates for that date and figure out which one belongs to you. Your birthmothers name will be listed and perhaps your birthfather as well.

Finally, here is a link to information published by the Dept. of Health and Human Services about searching for birthparents:

Good luck, and I am so sorry you need to do a search to find out this basic information about yourself.