How to search for a birth parent(s) if you know their name – Part 1

We frequently get requests for help to find birth parents from adoptees and others, and a good portion of them already have a name and frequently other identifying information. This obviously makes the search much quicker because you are not asking WHO are they, but now you are asking WHERE are they?

Before I dive into the tools that we use for searching, we will always ask the question: How sure are you that you have the correct name of your birth parent(s)? Typical responses include:

  • My adopted parent(s) told me
  • My other birth parent told me
  • A relative told me
  • It’s the name on my original birth certificate
  • I have a document with their name

You may feel very confident about the name you have, but when it comes down to the concrete evidence, you may not have a good case. The risk of using the first three responses as your evidence becomes real when you find and reach out to this person. That person may not know they fathered a child (if looking for a birth father), or may simply deny it and hang up. If this case a response of “Ya huh! My grandma told me you are the father!” may not go over very well.

We strongly encourage proceeding in a search when you have concrete evidence. The most concrete evidence you can have (in our opinion) is DNA evidence. We have seen documents such as birth certificates be wrong with the names of parents (though usually, the mother named is correct, paternity is always in question). Even if your birth parent has not done a DNA test, you can still determine if they are your birth parent based on other relatives who have. If there is a relationship that is a first cousin or closer, it can be easily determined who a parent is (though sometimes still challenging if you don’t know if you are looking for a birth mother or birth father)

Recently, I contacted a birth father who was very surprised to know that he had a biological daughter. In fact, he denied that it could have been him, and suggested that he knew the name of a person who it most likely was. I told him through DNA testing we had determined that he was the father and that the only other possibility would be his brother (which was VERY unlikely based on his age at the time). I spent the next half of an hour explaining how DNA testing proved he was the father, without him ever having done a DNA test.

So the first step of doing a name search is being as sure as possible that this name is the person you are looking for.

Haven’t done a DNA test yet? You can help support us by clicking here and ordering your own. We will help get the answers you are looking for. Click the link in our menu to ask for help.

Check out our other blogs in this series as we outline the tools we use for a name search.