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Free Adoption Search for Birth Parents

Free Adoption Search for Birth Parents

Our guest author for this article is Troy Olson. He founded a non-profit that helps individuals find their birth parents for free. By day he’s a digital marketing consultant, and he and his wife are the adoptive parents of four children.

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How to Find Birth Parents for Free

The first person I ever helped to find their birth parents was Jenni. She was adopted at birth and only had a few pieces of paper from her adoption that gave little information. You can see a video about her story here. It took my mom and me precisely one month, but we helped her find her birth parents and connect with them. It changed Jenni’s life forever, and it set me on a personal mission to help all those searching to find their birth parents and family.

So with that short introduction, let’s dive in!

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What you need to know starting out
Finding birth parents can be easy, complex, and everywhere in between. You never know when starting, so I would encourage you to commit even if you hit a wall or multiple walls that you will stick with it.

Though many free resources can help you, I will also mention other options that are not free but are relatively low cost, which may be necessary for your particular situation. Whether you are adopted, looking for only your birth father, or simply don’t know where you came from, I will do my best to provide you with guidance.

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Original Birth Certificate Request – Free or Cost
If you were born in the United States and are adopted, one route you can take to find your birth parent(s) might be to inquire at the appropriate government office in the state you were born in. What’s challenging is that each state has different restrictions and rules about this. You can see a list here. The laws are continually changing, and even if you cannot request your original birth certificate now, it may change in the future. I would note that some of these states require a fee for the application or submission.

Adoption Registries – Free
I will start by saying that adoption registries are a long shot. An adopted person creates a profile providing their date of birth and all pertinent information related to their birth and adoption. That information is then matched to birth parents (usually the birth mother) who put in information about the child that she placed for adoption. When dates, gender, location, etc., match, they are allowed to connect to determine further if there is a match. This process is a long shot for several reasons:

  • Both parties have elected to enter their info into the database
  • There are many different registries even for the same state
  • Data may be incorrect or entered incorrectly on either side
  • The birth date may be unknown for certain adoptions

Because it is simple, and there is still a chance that it may be fruitful, I suggest that you search on Google for the name of the state in which you were born and review the resulting sites. Here’s an example: “Indiana Adoption Registry.”

DNA Testing (Autosomal) – Cost
The number one way to find birth parents for most searching is with a DNA test. When you complete a DNA test with companies like Ancestry or 23andMe, you can be connected to others who have also taken a DNA test and share some of the same DNA. Based on how much DNA you have in common, you can determine possible relationships and determine how you fit into the same family. To date, tens of millions of individuals have taken a DNA test in the United States, and that number grows every day.
DNA tests are not free, but they do go on sale frequently. The normal cost is between $100 and $120, but they can go on sale for as low as $49.95. I recommend taking a test with Ancestry DNA because they have the largest database of tests and the best tools available.
These tests are so successful because they are 100% accurate and can provide concrete evidence of a biological relationship. The birth parent(s) you are searching for does not need to have taken a DNA test. Frequently a matching relationship such as first or even second cousin can provide enough evidence to determine your parentage.

Search Angel Volunteers – Free (or should be)
A search angel is commonly defined as a volunteer who has combined experience in DNA research, genealogy, and other skills and uses them to assist individuals in finding their birth parents and family members. The organization that I founded is DiscoverFamily.net. Our team has helped hundreds find their birth parents. Most search angels will require that you have a DNA test completed before they can assist.

Do you still have questions?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to see if we can answer any questions.

Troy Olson headshot for

About the author

Troy got involved in search angel work when a biological relative contacted his father asking for help in determining who her birth parents were. Troy and his mother jumped in and found that their skills in genealogy and online research fit well to the task. After exactly one month of searching, Troy made the phone call to her birth mother. He co-founded the organization DiscoverFamily.net to help all those searching to find their birth parents.

Troy is an active member of his faith, and he and his wife have welcomed 9 children into their home at different times via foster care. They were able to adopt four of these children and live on a beautiful piece of land in North Idaho, along with two dogs and eleven chickens.

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