Should You Search For Your Birth Family?

Posted on: 9 January 2015

An adoptee's decision to search for their birth family is a deeply personal one. If you're struggling to decide whether or not you should search, here are a few things to consider.

Medical history

One huge reason to search for your birth family is to learn about your medical history. Although you may have a short synopsis of whatever conditions your birth family suffered from at the time you were born, a lot can change over the years. Knowing you have a family history of cancer, heart disease, or other hereditary conditions lets you know what to keep an eye out for.

Reflected traits

Adoptees spend a great deal of time living in what's referred to as a Ghost Kingdom, where they fantasize about their birth family. Many of them find themselves scanning crowds for potential biological connections. For example, you may notice that whenever a girl with your high cheekbones walks by, you wonder if she's your sister. Finding your birth family allows you to finally see your own traits reflected in someone else. This can be an immensely powerful and satisfying experience for an adoptee.


As you locate your birth family, you may find that you have biological siblings. If they were raised by your birth mother or father, they may offer you a glimpse of what your life would have been like, for better or for worse—something many adoptees frequently wonder. Finding your birth siblings is also an opportunity to potentially build a unique and rewarding relationship with them.

Adoptive family

You may find that you feel torn between searching for your birth parents, and not wanting to hurt your adoptive family. Searching can bring out fears and insecurities in even the most supportive adoptive parents, and it's natural for the adoptee to feel guilty for bringing those feelings up.

Stressful process

The search process is often long and stressful. Although the exact process depends on the state where the adoption took place, it usually involves petitioning a county court, spending money, and waiting several months to receive any information back. The process is far from streamlined, and if your life is otherwise hectic—say, you're starting a family or caring for a sick parent—you may want to wait until things settle down to search.

Possible rejection

Rejection is the elephant in the room during the search process. You likely have an idealized view of how your reunion will go, and while many of them do end happily, it's important to be prepared for the alternative. Not all birth parents want contact with their adopted child—whether it's because it stirs up difficult memories, or adds complications to their current life, they may prefer to remain unfound. If you're going to search, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that it won't go as hoped.

There are many reasons both for and against searching. Ultimately, only you can make that decision. For more information about the possibilities, contact an adoption agency like A Child's Dream.