The Adoption Attorney – A Good Source To Find Birth Parents – Part 2
Adoption Attorney – Find Birth Parents
Here’s Part 2 on contacting your adoption attorney to help find your birth parents. Please read The Adoption Attorney – A Good Source To Find Your Birth Parents before proceeding.
To initiate contact with an attorney or law firm we suggest that you send to the attorney an attractive “thank you” card for his help. Include a photograph of yourself or family if it is feasible. Also, include a short, hand-written letter (not more than ¾ of a page) that is similar to the following. This is only a guideline so tailor your letter to your particular needs.
Dear Mr. ______:
My name is _____. You (or your firm) were kind enough to handle my adoption in 19xx. Like a great many people around the country today, I would like to find and establish contact with my birth parents for reasons of health concerns and because it is important to me.
I am writing you to inquire about my adoption records. I realize that your time is very valuable to you and it may require quite a considerable effort to help me. I am most grateful to you for helping me in the past and I can understand that it takes an unusually dedicated attorney and law firm to commit to an adoption case.
I was born in (city), (state) and my birth date is x/x/19xx. My adoption was finalized in (month), 19xx. My adoption took place at the _____ County Courthouse and with Judge ___________ presiding. My adoptive parents are ___________.
I do not necessarily need a copy of the whole file, although that would be wonderful. Just knowing my birth parent’s names, possible birth dates, and where they were born would help me immeasurably.
I have put much effort and thought in my quest. I believe that at this time I only need a couple of pieces of information to bring my hopes to fruition. If you can help me it would be so appreciated. Do you have any additional suggestions, thoughts, or ideas to help me?
My address and telephone number are: ________________
Please contact me at any time. (Of note: Include a self-addressed stamped envelope).
I will be happy to pay for any photocopies.
Thank you for your kind help.
In the event you do not hear back from the attorney or attorney’s legal assistant, it is wise to not call. These things, as well as any record search they may do, can sometimes require considerable time. You may not hear back from them for up to a few months. Do not be discouraged if they contact you and say the records have been disposed of. Repeat the thank you card six months later and address the envelope to the attention of the attorney’s legal assistant rather than the attorney. Convey you now have a little additional information and it has come to your awareness that sometimes law offices have copies of files or store files offsite and is there any way your adoption records could still exist and were possibly overlooked the first time you wrote them. Emphasize that you only need one or two pieces of information such as a name or birth date. Apologize for imposing on them again but it is very important to you and you hope that they can possibly understand.
Attorneys are not obligated to help. But even if they have disposed of your file if they were truly motivated in many instances they could go to the courthouse and obtain information to help you. Or they could write a letter on the firm’s letterhead to an adoption agency or the state adoption unit at the state capital. They may not necessarily get information back in writing from these sources but someone may well provide your birth parent’s names verbally to the attorney’s office over the phone. So you want to be patiently persistent without being an irritant and hopefully develop a friend sympathetic to your effort. Subtly and briefly try to appeal to the attorney’s sense of emotion and family through your hand-written letter or card. If all else fails and you can afford it, you might want to write the attorney and offer to hire the attorney to help you.
When you initially call a law firm do not ask to speak with your adoption attorney but instead ask to speak with his legal assistant or paralegal. Just say you would like to send some correspondence and want to verify their correct address. If you learn that your adoption attorney is no longer working there (perhaps he is now at another law firm or is retired or deceased), ask to speak with the legal assistant of the partner whose last name the firm lists first among the partners in the firm. That partner is usually the head partner and his legal assistant knows more about the firm than anyone and has likely been there the longest. He or she likely knows your adoption attorney and can tell you about him and his records. Remember to politely ask for the legal assistant’s name and write it down for your records.
In the event you learn your adoption attorney is retired, briefly tell the lead partner’s legal assistant that the attorney you are hoping to contact was kind enough to handle your adoption many years ago and you would like to write him to inquire about the possibility of any records. Most legal assistants or legal secretaries are sympathetic and will try to help or direct you. The law firm you are calling may have your birth records in a storage room or your retired adoption attorney may have them at home in the attic or garage. The legal assistant may want to call the attorney at his home first to get an okay and see about the circumstances and how to proceed. Keep in mind that she may feel she is intruding on your attorney’s privacy so always be nice and convey how appreciative you are. It is possible your retired adoption attorney does not recall your case and if you do not get results or are told the records no longer exist your goal should be to send a personalized thank you card with a brief letter inside to the retired attorney at his home residence. Retired attorneys and their addresses are usually listed in the white pages of directory information. Receiving your personalized card with a family picture may well motivate and inspire your adoption attorney go look through some dusty boxes in the attic or to call the right person at the law firm to get the wheels in motion if your records are there and they have been giving you a brush-off.
Make sure your thank you card to your retired attorney’s home begins with an apology for imposing on his privacy and time but convey how important your search is to you and your family and that you do not know where else to turn and you hope he can understand that.
If you are writing a retired attorney at his home do not ask for copies of the whole file but for only one or two specific pieces of information such as the biological name of your mother or if you already have that then you just want her birth date or the county she was born in. Whether writing to a retired attorney or law firm (or anyone for that matter) you want to convey the impression that you have done much work on your own and are not laying the burden on them and you are only asking a small favor that will enable you to complete the long awaited fruits of your efforts. Frequently, you will only need one piece of information. Later if you find you need a little more information you can go back to them for an additional piece.
If you learn that your adoption attorney is deceased, do not become discouraged. The records may still exist. A law partner may have taken over his cases and have the records. A spouse or relative may have the records in the garage. A son or daughter may have taken over his practice. And in some cases, the county bar association may store the records. You will need to make phone calls and investigate.
Please note: Many of the concepts of dealing with an attorney can be applied to obtaining records from your birth doctor (and other sources). You can call the county medical association for additional guidance.