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Adoption Records and Research

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The search for adoption records remains one of the thorniest and emotional quests for any researcher.  While most requests center on an adopted child searching for their birth parents, research can take many forms, including birth parents searching for an adopted child, or siblings searching for each other. 

Until the last quarter of the 20th century the mere mention of adoption carried a stigma for many, and researchers were discouraged and hindered in their investigations.  However, in the past two decades, that stigma has all but vanished, and numerous support groups now exist in every state.  Unfortunately, the political and bureaucratic jungle has not responded as quickly to popular demand, and record accessibility requirements still vary widely from state to state.  Some states, such as Alaska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Oregon and California, lead the way in the ease of adoption research.

We hope you will find the following links helpful in your research.  We wish to thank Lois Wight and Jan Cottrell of Search Finders of Idaho for much of this information.  As always, if you have need for assistance, feel free to contact us.


The Adoption History Project an on-going project of the History Department at the University or Oregon.


Case Study: A Case of Adoption 	Case Study: A Case of Adoption


All About Adoption Research an article by Maureen Taylor


Independent Search Consultants consist of individuals trained and certified for adoption research in specific states.  Independent Search Consultants does not set fees for independent consultants; each consultant sets his or her own fees, in accordance with the projected difficulty of the case.


Child Welfare Information Gateway temp
Formerly the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, this organization provides resources on all aspects of domestic and inter-country adoption, including adoption from foster care. Includes information for prospective and adoptive parents; information about searching for birth relatives; and resources for professionals on recruiting adoptive families, preparing children and youth, supporting birth parents, and providing post-adoption services.. A service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Child Welfare Information Gateway
Children's Bureau/ACYF
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW
Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20024
Personal assistance and inquiries:
(800) 394-3366 or (703) 385-7565


American Adoption Congress provides search guidance and a Checklist for Beginner's as well as local support groups around the country for birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents.
American Adoption Congress
PO Box 42730
Washington, DC 20015
202-483-3399


Adoption.com advertises itself as the largest adoption site on the Internet, with guides on Pregnancy, Adoption, Parenting, and Reuniting.


Adoption Week E-Magazine the world's largest adoption publication with 277,580 recipients weekly. Each issue contains adoption news, articles, poetry, product reviews & specials, a waiting child, an inspirational thought, recent adoption forum discussions, humor and upcoming events.


AnyWho Online Directory is an Internet Directory Assistance containing Yellow Pages, White Pages, Toll-Free Numbers, Maps and Directions


BirthQuest is an international organization with over 9,000 registrations on their searchable database of adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and siblings. (A registration donation is requested.)


Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) is a national organization whose focus is on birthparents, but they also welcome adoptees, adoptive parents, and professionals.


Courts with jurisdiction over adoption vary by state; circuit (11), district (8), probate (8), superior (7), family (5), or juvenile (3) court.


Cyndi's List contains links to adoption related sites on the internet.


Idaho Adoption Research and Resources A list of links and resources to utilize when searching for Idaho adoption records.


Orphanages: An American Local History Network Project

U. S. Orphanages, mid-1800s to early 1900s

Historic Asylums

Poorhouses provides a clearinghouse for information pertaining to 19th century poorhouses.

The Orphan Trains

Orphan Train Heritage Society of America Its purpose is to help educate the American Public about this chapter of American History; a part of our heritage that has been largely ignored. "There are those who will claim that it never happened. Over the years, I have met many living witnesses to these events. These are their stories."
Orphan Train Heritage Society of America
Box 322
Concordia, KS 66901
(785) 243-4471


Download a page of Orphan Train Resources from Family Tree Magazine. pdf 134KB


The American Experience: Orphan Trains: This is the companion website to the PBS documentary by the same title. "The Orphan Trains follows the story of the New York Children's Aid Society, created in 1853 to provide thousands of street children with homes in rural communities in the American midwest" between 1850 and 1929.


Orphan Trains: Iowa
Orphan Trains: Kansas
Orphan Trains: Nebraska
Orphan Trains: Wisconsin

RegDay is an annual event to increase public awareness of the International Soundex Reunion Registry, better known as ISRR, dedicated to reuniting adult family members separated by adoption, divorce, or other dislocation.


International SOUNDEX Reunion Registry a free service that matches data on adopted children with data on biological parents who have given up a child for adoption. Call for registration form. The registry will contact you if the computer turns up a match.
The Reunion Registry
PO Box 2312
Carson City NV 89702
(702) 882-7755


Search Systems is a directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet. Find business information, corporate filings, property records, unclaimed property, professional licenses, offenders, inmates, criminal and civil court filings, and much more. Most of the links are free, but there are some pay services.


Free SSDI Search by RootsWeb ssdi


Vital Records contains information about where to obtain vital records (such as birth, death & marriage certificates and divorce decrees) from each state, territory and county of the United States. See the guidelines for information on costs and how to order records.

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Last updated: 12 Jul 2010