Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

A little over 2 years ago my DNA presented me with a second cousin who was adopted. He and I have been messaging back and forth regarding possibilities and resources that might be helpful. So far, we’ve only figured out a possible location for one of his parents. Then 2 weeks ago at a party, I met a lady who is helping a friend trying to figure out his birth parents. So…. Long story slightly shorter, this month I will be sharing my meager knowledge of ways to locate birth parents.
One source of information that could be very helpful is that every state is required to provide “non-identifying” information to an adult adoptee. Non-identifying information is health and other family background information which is commonly exchanged or otherwise made available to other members of the adoption group. It does not include “identifying” information such as names, addresses, birth dates and telephone numbers. While this will not provide those specifics that you might want, it may provide clues that will lead you in the right direction. For more details on this, google, “information that an adoptee is entitled to” or “How do I find my biological parents?”
The Family Search WIKI has some helpful suggestions and links. Go to Family Search and use the Search Tab to select the WIKI. When it opens, type adoption into the search box. When this opens, select the first option titled, United States Adoption Research. At the bottom of this page there is a list of states to select from that will assist you in identifying what records are available as well as the challenges that each state may have.
If you have not done your DNA, you might want to do so. There are the three big companies Ancestry, 23 and Me, and Family Tree. Family Tree is a bit different than the other two in that it does y-DNA. As y-DNA follows the male line it can be helpful in locating a potential surname. For those of you who have had your DNA done at Ancestry you can use GED Match to move your results to Family Tree. The Family Tree magazine December 2017. Volume 18, Issue 7 has an article on Finding Your Birth Family with DNA that offers a much more detailed look at using DNA for our search and might prove helpful
You might also wish to try one of the web sites listed below for more information on using DNA to locate birth parents:

A couple of final thoughts. Do not forget to take a look at Cyndi’s List. It offers several sites specific to adoption research. Check out Facebook and other Social Media sites as there are many groups that share your interest in the adoption process. Type “looking for birth parents on social media” into google for some possible sites. Or type “finding my birth family” into the search box on Facebook for a listing of several groups.
As you take on this project, be prepared for the fact that even if you are able to solve the question of who your birth parents are, they may not want to meet you. As difficult as this might be, you will need to respect their wishes.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.