Birth Family Search

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How Many Adoptees Search?

  • Between two and four percent of all adoptees searched in the year 1990. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
  • A survey conducted in the late 1980's estimated that 500,000 adult adoptees were seeking or have found their birth families. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998)

Why Do Adoptees Search?

  • In a study of American adolescents, the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)
  • The psychological literature has established that the desire of 60 to 90 percent of adoptees wanting to obtain identifying information regarding their biological parents is a normative aspect of being adopted. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)

What are the Attitudes of Triad Members Towards Searching?

  • In a comprehensive study of the issues involved in adoption, the Maine Department of Human Resources Task Force on Adoption found in 1989 that every birth parent who was surveyed wanted to be found by the child/adult they had placed for adoption and 95% of the adoptees who were surveyed expressed a desire to be found by their birth parents. 98% of the adoptive parents supported reunions between their adopted child and members of the adoptee's birth family. (CWLA, 1998)
  • Sachdev's 1991 study found that a substantial majority of birth mothers (85.5%) and adoptees (81.1%) supported access by adult adoptees to identifying information about their birth parents. (CWLA, 1998)
  • Avery's 1996 research on the attitudes of adoptive parents in New York regarding access to identifying information found that 84% of the adoptive mothers and 73% of the adoptive fathers agreed or strongly agreed that an adult adoptee should be able to obtain identifying information on his or her birth parents. (CWLA, 1998)


Babb, L.A. (1996). Statistics on U.S. Adoption. The Decree, American Adoption Congress.

Freundlich, M. (1998). Access to identifying information: what the research tells us. CWLAdoption News, 2(4).

Groza, V. and Rosenberg, K. (1998). Clinical and practice issues in adoption: bridging the gap between adoptees placed as infants and as older children. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (

Visitor Comments (4)
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Me - 5 days ago
The whole sealed adoption thing really upsets me because it has become a money making avenue for total strangers to get into the private files of individuals who should have the first right to review their files. I think these confidential people violate the privacy policy of adoptees and birth parents. There should be no sealed records because an adoptee should have the same rights of any other person on earth to know who the parent/s are. So sorry for the parent who gave up the child and their privacy because you gave your rights away and not the childs rights. If they feel like not reuniting with their child is what they want to do that is entirely OK but denying a human being the right to know where they came from is cruel and bad treatment to an innocent person searching for his/her parents. I agree with the other guest who suggests the biological parents should get a grip on reality. The other reality is that someone you don't even know makes money from your adoption. #1
Guest - 2 weeks ago
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I'm both a birth mom and an adoptive mom, so understand the emotions on both sides of the fence. Adoptive parents who are "hurt" by their adoptive children 's search need to get a grip on reality, and that reality is that you are raising someone else's kids. You became a parent only through another's sacrifice. Those kids will always feel interest and connection to their bio parents, even if they choose not to have a relationship with them for whatever reason. That does not mean that your adoptive child does not uniquely love you as the parent that raised them. The birth parent can never get those years or that relationship back. If the birth parent is a good influence on that child, you ought to be happy that they have found another to love them. The more a person is loved the better. #2
Guest - 4 months ago
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I want to know what percent of adoptees still have a relationship with their birth parents after they have found them. #3
Kiera - 9 months ago
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I am adopted and this makes me feel like a lot of people that want to know, like me, are hopeful #4
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