Birth Mother Search – More Sources of Identifying Information
In four prior posts, our OmniTrace staff discussed search methods an adoptee should use to obtain indentifying information / background information on the birth mother / birth parents. We’ve listed links to these posts for your convenience and we suggest you review them:
- Obtaining Necessary Identifying Information
- Obtaining Necessary Identifying Information-Part 2
- Getting Help From Your Adoptive Parents and Family
- Getting Help From Your Adoptive Parents and Family-Part 2
Now we’ll address other possible sources of identifying information when you conduct a search for your birth mother.
Depending on circumstances, you may need to be restrained and slightly evasive when approaching other persons and organizations who have possible identifying information on your birth mother / birth parents. For a number of reasons, many people become very wary when mention of a birth mother search is made.
You should also try to obtain the identifying information on your birth mother from as many sources as possible so that you don’t expose your purpose. As we have repeatedly pointed out in prior posts, small morsels of information from several different sources may be all you need to successfully find your birthmother.
Here are some other ways to obtain identifying information on your birth mother / birth parents:
* Knock on doors and speak with neighbors of your adopting parents while you were growing up. In every neighborhood, there is typically someone who just has to know everything about everyone. If you had a nosey neighbor, they might be a great source of information. Also, who did your adoptive parents socialize with? There is a chance that your adopting parents shared some information about your background with them. Make sure that you bring some childhood pictures of yourself to show everyone. It may jar memories.
* Determine who your pediatrician was while growing up. There is a good chance that your adopting parents shared with him/her any information they had about the background of your birth mother and birth father.
* Contact your former grammar school counselors and teachers. If your adopting parents were called into meetings, there is a good chance that they shared background information about you with them. Bring a photograph of your adopting parents and yourself as a child. Did you ever see a psychologist when you were a child? Your adopting parents would have certainly shared information they had on your birth family.
* Contact your birth physician. If your birth physician is still alive, he/she may recall your birth mother and circumstances surrounding your adoption. (One of our co-workers, who is an adoptee, found her birth mother in a unique way. She managed to locate her birth physician. Instead of just trying to meet with and question him, she made an appointment and became his patient. Eventually, after establishing a doctor/patient relationship, she convinced him to provide her enough information to locate her birth mother.)
* If an attorney handled your adoption, contact him/her for information. If the attorney is deceased, he may have left his records with a partner or a family member that took over his practice.
* After the adoption agency has provided your non-identifying information (per our prior instructions), we suggest you wait some time before sending them a follow-up letter or paying them a visit. You may first want to send the social worker who prepared your non-id a thank you letter and/or flowers. When you make contact, you may first want to only ask for clarification on something stated in your non-id. At first, all you are trying to do is establish a relationship. In time, you can ask a question or two, but be careful not to request too much. Perhaps you might ask for your birth mother’s date of birth so that you can celebrate it each year for giving you a wonderful life. Or you might just ask for her first name. Then later, you can follow-up with additional questions, perhaps to someone else at the agency. Once again, just having a first name and date of birth allows for a high probability of success in locating your birth mother.
* Request your birth records from the hospital of your birth (we’ll teach you exactly how to do this in a future post). However, there is a good chance that you will receive a “No Records Statement” as a result of your requesting your birth records. There are a number of reasons for this. Many hospitals have in-house, privately owned medical records companies that handle all requests for records. These companies are there to make money by charging a fee for records that they provide. They typically handle records that date back 7-10 years. They are not interested in tracking down a record that may date back many years. Although time consuming, it might pay you great dividends to visit the hospital where you were born. Try to identify someone in the medical records department that might take a few minutes to point you in the direction of older, archived records. In some instances, we have found that older medical records are archived in offsite facilities, which may hold records for a number of hospitals. If you cannot pay a visit, you will have to try to identify a helpful person by phone.
* Separate from the medical records department is the billing records department. They may maintain admittance records, which may provide your mother’s name, birth date and her address at the time of your birth. Once again, it will pay for you to personally visit the hospital and identify a friendly face. Emphasize that you are interested in information about your birth, not your birth mother.
When interviewing someone for information, it is important to not rattle off a litany of questions right away. Private investigators understand that in order to obtain a witness’s cooperation, it is very important to first get the witness to like them. When meeting with a former neighbor, if you are lucky enough to be invited into their home, look around and observe what is most important to them. If you notice that they have a hobby, ask questions about it. Find things that are common to the both of you. Make them your friend!
When meeting with a hospital employee, look over their desk. If there are any pictures, comment about them. Mention how thankful you are that they are taking time out of their busy schedule. Inquire about what they do at the hospital. Once again, make them your friend.
Remember to show thanks for any tidbit of information that anyone provides you. Never show anger or resentment that they are not providing enough. Send thank you cards, flowers, even a box of cookies. You may have to go back to the same information source on more than one occasion.
If possible, enlist the help of your spouse, a friend or family member. Have your assistant review your results and provide their own insight.
When working on your adoption case, always have a pen and pad handy. Verify all of your information, particularly the spelling of any names that you obtain. Do not make guesses. Never assume that anything you’ve been told is 100% correct. Don’t jump to conclusions. Just gather as much information as you can.
Please send us any comments or questions you may have.