Finding United States Adoption Records

March 12, 2014  - by 

More than 127,000 children are adopted each year within the United States. Altogether, more than 1.5 million children (more than 2% of all total U.S. child population) have been adopted.  Many of these adopted children, at some time in their lives, try to find their biological birth parents.

The search to find the biological parent of an adopted child has long be fraught with one challenge after another. In many cases, young single mothers who gave up a child for adoption are married now and have families of their own. They often don’t want to be found for fear that their secret may be discovered or because they worry it could cause problems with their spouse and their other children.

In the past, the court system has not been very helpful in helping adopted children find their birth mothers who gave them up for adoption. Adoption files are often sealed with strict legally binding instructions not to make these files available to the public; not even to those directly involved in the adoption.

However, today we are finding that gaining access to adoption records, while still difficult, is not nearly as hopeless as it once seemed. The FamilySearch Wiki has a helpful page on resources that anyone can use that might help them crack the walls of secrecy involved in gaining access to adoption records. The wiki page is titled, United States Adoption Research and provides some basic guidelines on how to move forward in their search, along with many excellent links to webpages where additional help can be found.

For most adoptees, finding one’s birth parents is still a big challenge. But with so many excellent web sources and support organizations willing to lend a hand, the task has become much more hopeful.


  1. Hi I am trying to find a possible relatives birth name,
    She was born Bernice ( Bonnie ) Louise on the 13th of February 1905 in Paris Lamar Texas, she was adopted as a child by Elbert and Decide Smith.
    I would be grateful for any advice.
    Thank you Vivian.

  2. Emma, what state were you adopted in? Some states have opened records so you can request your original birth certificate. I found my birth parents by contacting the adoption agency. They sent me some non-identifying information, but it was enough to get me started. There are a lot of online sources for finding birth parents. Would love to chat more about it with you.

  3. Depends on your state. Was adoption open or sealed? Contact vital records in state you were adopted for OBC original birth certificate. Contact adoption agency to see what info you can get.

  4. FamilySearch’s main focus is discovering deceased ancestors. As such, we are generally unable to help with records on living individuals due to privacy concerns. Adoption records are especially complex for that same reason. FamilySearch has very few records that might help you locate your birth family. Please check these pages that give suggestions and links to other organizations that might be able to help you. Good Luck!

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