Searching and finding your birth parents is a huge life altering step that will forever change the way you look at yourself and the world around you. Every set of birth parents and circumstances are as unique as the children they placed for adoption. The journey to reconnect with birth parents can be daunting or exciting depending on your point of view and it is important to ensure that you have done everything you can to prepare for the moment of reunification no matter what for that might take. For me personally, this decision and preparation were several years in the making. This is a general list I followed while preparing to search my own birth parents. I strongly encourage you to talk with those around you who you trust, who love you and even consulting with a counselor, therapist, or member of clergy before making the decision to search for your birth parents.
- Be over the age of 18. This might seem like a no-brainer since most states will not release closed adoption records to anyone under the age of 18 anyway. However, it is extremely important that you are a legal adult before finding your birth parents unless you have spoken with your adoptive parents and received their consent first. Not only is it courteous, but is also their right as your parents to refuse to allow you to meet with your birth parents until you are a legal adult.
- Be in a stable place in your life. A full-time job, a marriage, a child, having something concrete in your life to keep you grounded and centered. Searching and finding your birth parents is an emotionally and mentally exhausting journey filled with ups and downs that you may have never thought possible. The additional stress of being in an unstable position in your own life can leave you in an emotionally vulnerable position that may lead you to make rash decisions regarding your search.
- Have a strong support system. Family, friends, counselors, clergy, people who genuinely want what’s best for you are extremely important to have to support you while you search for your birth parents. This search is life changing and at times can be overwhelming. Having a strong support system will ensure that you have the stability needed to deal with whatever your search turns up.
- Have realistic expectations. Most people that have had a child will tell you that when they held their child in their arms for the first time, they felt a powerful, unbreakable love that they never could have imagined towards the little one in their arms. Only the most extreme of circumstances would drive a parent to trust another with something as precious as a child. Keep that in mind as you search for your birth parents. The circumstances surrounding an adoption of any kind are generally complicated and turbulent. Being prepared for both the best and worst case scenarios will help you better navigate such intricacies when they arrive.
- Move forward with caution. For every wonderful, joy-filled reunion story, there is another reunion that is filled with only toxicity and pain. Take precautions to protect yourself against those who may try to take advantage of your circumstances or enthusiasm.
- Have an open mind. The people you came from may be very different from what you imagined they would be, or they may be exactly what you always thought they were. Search carefully and be ready for the road to be bumpy and full of twists and turns. There is always the possibility that your search may turn up empty for several reasons even with the best tools available at your disposal. However, you are likely to turn up something if you are patient and thorough in your search.
Everyone is different and there is no real way to know when you’re ready to search for your birth parents. However, this list is a good guide to help you as you make the decision and start your journey.