The Clues Line at Meridian Magazine
by James W. Petty, CGRS, AG, BS (Genealogy)

Questions and Answers:

Sarah B. – Salt Lake City, Utah asks:
“I was adopted at birth, by a very kind and loving LDS family. I’ve been raised in a good home. I’ve been given love, and opportunities of life, and I love my parents, to whom I’ve been sealed. I believe I know where I am going, but I still wonder “Where did I come from?” If I already have an eternal family, would these feelings still be promptings of the Spirit of Elijah? If so, how to I begin?”

Answer: Sarah, Heavenly Father has blessed you with an eternal family, and your responsibility is to seek out your sealing line. However, for you and others who have been adopted into new homes, he has given the additional privilege of having a second family to search for. We generally don’t know why people are adopted out by a parent. For whatever reason, your birth mother was unable to take on that responsibility. In your case, she loved you and cared enough to make certain that you would go into a home with good values. Wherever love exists, the Spirit of Elijah will be there to help you find your family.

Searching for a birth parent can be a difficult and daunting venture. But it can be done, and often the search and the discovery can be very rewarding. Many of the adoptees that I have known who have searched for their birth mothers have discovered that they weren’t forgotten. The birth mothers I have met have spent lifetimes thinking about the child they might have known, and the discovery between mother and child is often very fulfilling.

When you start the search for a birth parent, begin with prayer. As in all things, Heavenly Father has all of the answers, and can open doors, and break down barriers in helping you find your family. Then, make certain your adoptive parents understand that you love them, so they can be secure in their relationship with you. Those adoption searches that I have participated in, have been most successful when the adoptive parents participated in the search with their child. The sense of selflessness that is generated by such a relationship increases the bond of love between parents and children.

The first step in the research process is to go to the agency that handled the adoption. Many of these businesses maintain files on their cases for many years, and in the right circumstances it is possible to obtain information from them. This is especially true when the adoptive parents are willing participants in the search. Sometimes, the birth mother will leave permission in the file, for the child to contact her, in which cases records can be opened and made available. In other cases, the adoption agency can serve as the intermediary to contact the birth parent to find out if contact will be allowed. However, in many cases there may not be a valid address, or way to contact them, and adoption agencies generally are not able to release information without that approval.

Legal adoptions are an action of the court system, and adoption files are controlled by the courts. Because of the rights of privacy mandated by law, it can be very difficult to obtain access to those files. Again, under the right circumstances, records can be released. But this has to be looked at on a case by case basis. When dealing with the court systems, it is best to work with an attorney who is familiar with the laws and requirements of the court.

When the search moves beyond the court system, the key requirements are a good imagination and a lot of determination. There are a number of good research guides available that will give you ideas about what to look for and where to search. There are sites on the Internet that will help too. Cyndi’s List ( one of the largest directories of genealogy sites available, shows over 130 web sites pertaining to adoption research including message boards, and registries where adoptees and birth parents alike can leave their names and addresses for one another to find.

If your adoptive parents are working with you, they may be able to give you clues about when and where you were born. The smaller the town, the better the chance of finding people who might recall some one who might have been having a baby at the right time, who didn’t keep the child. If the adoption was the result of an injury or even death, after the birth of the child, it is possible to identify births that occurred at the right time, and were listed in the local newspaper. The most important thing is to start your search as early as you can. The later you wait in life, the less chance there is of finding people who remember, or who were living in the area at the time.

Hopefully, if the Spirit is prompting you to look for your birth parents, It may also be prompting them to look for you.

2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.