I want to spend a little time talking about the process of search. And it is a process. But first and foremost before a search can commence, there must be searchable information.
People come by their information in a variety of ways. Hopefully there is a file that your adoptive parents kept containing documentation; or a concrete memory of a date of birth if you are the birth mother. Sometimes information comes in other ways: Somebody’s aunt says their birth mother was “X”, or they overheard something, etc. From a searchers’ standpoint: all people leave a paper trail, AND the timeline is your friend. So when I get a call from someone with some information, I can usually verify the adoption information pretty quickly. I verify information three ways: I make sure there was an adoption, I make sure there was another birth certificate issued, and I make sure there is a paper trail that we can obtain if you must petition the courts. If there is enough verifiable information that I can find without petitioning the courts, I will provide what I can for contact. If anything seems off, I will not. I will not create a situation where I get a complaint, or where I might be doing something that will get me charged criminally.
Then there is the anecdotal information. I just spent months attempting to verify an adoptee’s new name given to a birth mother in 1946. The assumption was that the information was correct. It was not even close. Once this birth mother finally understood that the information was false, she petitioned the courts and I found her daughter. But she spent many, many years attempting to find a person that simply did not exist. So…don’t assume that something someone told you about the circumstances is true if you were never provided with documents – e.g. Final Decree of Adoption, Non-Identifying Information, or other documents relating to an adoption such as a relinquishment, if you are a birth parent.
Next, depending on the State you live in, there are laws. In New Mexico adoption files are closed. ALL adoption files, whether step parent or otherwise, are closed and cannot be accessed without a Court Order. Also, in New Mexico, these records can only be viewed by a Certified Confidential Intermediary. The law was written for search and reunion…which is very unfortunate for those who simply need to show their paper trail for the purposes of Passports, Tribal Affiliations, Social Security, DAR, or other reasons – but right now, this is still the law. For any of these reasons, there are some solutions that I can offer, so please contact me.
New Mexico law provides “standing” in the courts to search to the Triad: Adoptees, Birth parents, and biological siblings of Adoptee. That’s it. If you are outside that Triad, there are few options. One of the hardest positions in the Triad is the position of a possible biological father. If you think you fathered a child, this can be tricky because often you are not named in the file. But you must at least know verifiable information: like the mother’s maiden name, and the appx. month/year she gave birth. If I can’t verify a birth mother’s name, there is a possibility she didn’t give up the child, or she didn’t have a child at all. (It happens, in the heat of the moment, to tell someone you gave up his child just to hurt him, when really, there was no pregnancy).
In this electronic age, Facebook posts have become the norm for finding lost biological relatives. Be sure you are verifying the information of someone responding to you. And be careful – you are putting your date of birth and your name out there hoping to “share” it. This is your choice, but opens the door for people to enter your life without proof that they are who they say they are.
Finally: There is not some vast conspiracy between the State and the searchers – it is just a simple fact that I cannot assume your information is correct when I cannot verify it. I don’t want to take your money to do a search if there is nothing to get paper trail wise, and I want this to be as transparent as the law allows. I want you to have a successful reunion, to fill that hole in your heart, and to be able to know the truth, rather than just guessing.