November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Every year in the U.S. upwards of 10,000 children are adopted by American families. These adoptions come from all over the world, but most actually take place exclusively with American parents. Some studies estimate as many as 2.5% of all American citizens are adopted.
Open adoptions – agreements that give more visitation rights to biological parents – are becoming increasingly common, particularly as private adoptions rise. The good news is, these adoptions mean children can get questions about their natural parents answered, find out more about their medical history, and maybe even get to know their extended biological family if they wish. Many adoptions though, especially those that happened 10+ years ago, were more “closed” in nature meaning adopted children are left with little answers about their biological history.
Thankfully, digital resources are making it easier than ever before for adoptees to find and identify their biological families. Particularly in cases where both the families and the adoptee are searching for one another, success rates are high thanks to a slew of publicly available information. Here are some of the most common ways adoptees are finding their loved ones in the digital age…
People Search Engines
People search engines like Spokeo are perhaps the best place to start when looking for more information about people. In many cases all you need is a first and last name to find everything from current contact information to public records like marriage licenses and property records. Since sites like Spokeo dig through thousands of digital records in seconds – focusing on white pages, publicly available records, and social networking sites – you can gather a lot of data at once. And the best news is, people search engines usually don’t charge per search so you can expand your quest to include grandparents, long-lost friends, or anyone else that might help you drill down on a specific name.
There are dozens of active, worthwhile adoption organizations in the U.S. alone. Each focuses on a different aspect of the process, from the emotional consequences to the logistical hassles of locating a birth parent. Some of the most popular organizations with large online presences include PACT, the Adoptee Rights Coalition and American Adoption Congress. While most of these groups don’t focus on reunions they can provide valuable information on services that do. They also specialize in matching adoptees with helpful articles, counselors, and peers to work through their experiences.
Social Networking Groups
It should come as no surprise that Facebook (and other social sites) are one of the best ways to reunite with relatives. There are over 1.3 billion people on Facebook and it only takes a few minutes for information to spread far and wide. Adoptees are joining Facebook adoption groups in droves in an effort to locate their birth families – the only catch is that they need at least some information for group members to go on like a photo, a name, or other identifying info. A single wall post in a group like “Find My Family Adoption Reunion Registry” or something more specific like the “Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry” can set off a chain reaction of people hoping to help.
Sometimes an adoptee is able to quickly find the information on his or her own online, and sometimes they need some assistance. We’re major supporters of volunteer search angels who help point adoptees in the right direction and often help adoptees with the searching themselves. To learn more about search angels and how Spokeo supports their work, visit www.spokeoangels.com
Publicly available data is making it easier than ever before for adoptees to locate their biological families if and when they’re ready. For better or worse, thanks to the locked-down nature of closed adoptions, this kind of info doesn’t necessarily make it easier for the parents to find adoptees. Privacy is still paramount during most adoptions and when adoptees become adults the ball is usually in their court.
Do you have an amazing adoption reunion story to share?
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