One request I get every now and again is to assist someone in locating his or her biological parents. Some people may be just interest for their own knowledge to see what kind of lifestyle their biological parents lived, and others want to see about pursuing a possible relationship with them. Whatever the case the client typically has conducted an extensive search online and perhaps interviewed family members but is unable to determine whom, or where their parents are. Sometime the best way to start you search is from the bottom-up. This can be time consuming so prepare for the long haul.
First Things First
The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done so, is determine the names of your parents. If you are unable to interview your current family or they are not willing to provide you with the real name of your biological parents, you can still get this information. The most accurate means of doing this is by getting a copy of your birth certificate. Most states allow you to file an online request with providing sufficient identification. To do this, search for the state you were born in and include in the search keywords either “birth certificate,” or “vital records.” I have seen this cost anywhere from $12.00 to about $30.00 depending on the state and it usually takes about 3-4 weeks for you to get the record back.
Once you have your birth certificate, you should be able to find your mother’s name at the time of your birth on the record. You may even have your father’s name but that is not always the case. Some birth certificates will also provide you with the place employment of your parents at the time of your birth.
If you have the place of employment you can try and start your search there. You may be able to check with the company and see if they are still employed. Some business will not provide this information out over the phone for security reasons.
Beware of Name Changes
The good news is you at least have a name to go by for your searches. Keep in mind that while doing your searches, especially with your mother’s name, that her name could have changed if she got married or divorced. You can try and do free online white pages searches for your parents based on their name and presumed location and if they are listed publicly you may get a number and address. You can also try and search them through social media account, but if you don’t know what they look like, chances are, you will get many common name results during your search.
Another thing you can do is to request your health records. Depending on how old you were when you were adopted, if your biological parents took you for random health related checkups as a child, you may be able to obtain copies of this information. First you would want to look in the area around where you were born and grew up. I would contact the Department of Health and Human Resources in that area and request your health records. You will need to provide identification again and fill out a request form. When you get your records you should look for all identification sheets. The identification sheet should have information regarding your name, address, telephone number, insurance, etc. Chances are the telephone number provided would be for your guardian or person that brought you in at the time of the appointment. Feel free to given it a try but chances are, after the length of time, this number has changed. A good piece of information on these records is the address. You will have the listed address of where you lived at the time.
If the address is an apartment, chances are your parents have moved since your birth. The apartment will not have many details listed online so you can call the apartment complex but chances are they will not give you any information over the phone. You best bet is to go to the apartment complex in person and explain to them what you are trying to do. The complex may still refuse any further information about the unit due to policies but you may get lucky and find someone eager to help. If they are willing to help you, ask them if they have any information about the tenants of the apartment during the timeframe you were living there. See if they included a forwarding address in their paperwork for mail, deposits, etc. If you get an address or telephone number repeat this step over again.
If the address you have is a house, you have some other options. Most counties have all their property deed information listed online now. Some smaller counties may not. Search online for the county and real estate deed search. You can put in the address and the deed to property will show you the current name on the deed. If you are lucky, this will be one of the same names on your birth certificate. If not, you are not done hunting. Some online searches provide deed histories and you can see how long ago it was that your parent(s) lived there and owned the house, as well as when they sold it and the deed changed names. While you are still on this particular counties website, try searching for properties by owner name. If your parent(s) are still living in the same county, and own a home, you will be able to get the address to the current property they own.
If no results came back, chances are they could have either moved counties, renting, or possibly deceased. There are some sites that offer free death master file searches so you may want to check this out first before proceeding and wasting anymore time.
Assuming they are still living lets check personal property taxes. Most counties will also post online a free search engine to check property tax information. You can search these records by name and it will give you all real estate properties and vehicles they own and owe taxes on or have previously owned and paid taxes on. The real estate taxes will provide an address but the vehicles will not. It may be a good idea to know what kind of car that your parent(s) may currently own while on your search so make a note of it.
Voter Registration Search
If you still can’t find an address another free online search with good results is the Voter Registration Search site for the state they reside in. Some state sites are easier to navigate than others. Voter registration search can provide you with the name and address where a person is registered to vote. If they are an active voter the address listed should be their current address, unless they have moved and have not updated this information yet.
County Real Property Index
Another website to check is the county real property index. Some counties offer this service online, while others you have to go to the county courthouse and search through the records in person. These are public records and you can search for judgments, assumed names, quitclaim deeds, and many other documents. Some of these documents include alternative names that your mother may have used (maiden name) as well as addresses and business addresses.
If you are still unable to locate any further address for your parent(s) you may want to put on your best detective hat and begin interviewing those that may have any information to your parent(s) whereabouts. You can not only interview your current family, but also consider interviewing those that are currently residing at the houses your parent(s) have lived at. The new residence may be able to provide you with a forwarding address if it was given to them in the event mail came. They may also be able to provide a telephone number. Interview landlords as well for this same information.
Return Service Request
Another method of obtaining a current address for your parent(s) is by using the United States Postal Service. The USPS uses ancillary services such as Return Service Requested. If you mail a letter to the last known address of your parent(s) and inscribe the words “Return Service Requested” on the letter, the USPS will return the letter to you with the newest forwarding address. Be sure to check with the USPS for proper placement of request.
Additional Free Searches
Some additional sites you may want to try just to knock off your search list to assure you are covering all your bases include the following:
– Federal Bureau of Prisons – Search incarcerated federal inmates.
– County Jails – Most Counties have online inmate searches.
– Vinelink – A Service that provides the public with free information about incarcerated offenders as well as release dates.
– Sex Offender Registry – Free search providing photo’s, conviction information, as well as current address.
– White Pages – Free online search of publicly listed names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
– Social Media Accounts – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.