With an alarming number of women who were promised open adoptions having the door slammed shut in their face, I thought I would write about some methods that can be used in order to solve this problem. Almost every search group will not search for a child until they are 18 or 21 years of age, regardless of whether or not it was supposed to be an open adoption. However, I think that searching for adoptive parents, who promised to always keep you in the loop, is something that all first moms should know how to do.
Most women who were promised open adoptions would probably not have even considered adoption,at all, if they knew they would spend years wondering if their child was healthy or, at the very least,alive. The promise of open adoption does seem to lure in a good number of mothers who would not otherwise have signed the dotted line. This “glamorizing” or “dolling-up” of adoption is a way to fill the demand for babies. While a good number of adoptive parents do keep their promises (and should be given kudos for that), the sad reality is that the majority do not. Some don’t even give their real first names, as advised by the agency, which can sometimes make it almost impossible to find anything.
Where does this leave us? Pretty much in an era of closed adoptions that are initially sold as open. I think it is despicable that anyone would take someone else’s child, promise they will always know how that child is doing, and then shut and lock the door. It’s deceitful and there is a special place in hell for people like this.
I’m here to hold them accountable. I don’t care if your child is 2 or 22. If I am able to help you find just a picture of your child to ease your mind, after the sacred promise made to you by the adoptive parents has been broken, then it has made everything worth it.
For those who may want to do this on their own, I’ll outline my methods. I do not have any kind of access to any secret databases. I am armed with Google, Facebook and intuition.
Step 1 – Knowing first names is probably a necessity to use this method. Knowing what the adoptive parents have named your child will also help tremendously. Knowing a possible state they may live in can bump that success rate way up. Knowing how to utilize Google, when searching for anything, can help you weed out thousands of unnecessary search results. For example, if I want to search for two people named Larry and Kate who live in Utah and type that into the search bar I will get results for any web page that has all three of those words. And that’s not what I need. I need a webpage that has those two people together and living in Utah. So, to narrow the results, I will search for “Larry and Kate” Utah. The quotations around the names will tell Google to ONLY search for pages that have those exact words in that exact order with that exact spelling. I don’t put Utah in quotations, at first, because I don’t want to narrow my results too much. I can also switch the order of the names to “Kate and Larry.” If you have the name of your child you can add that as well. It would look like this in the search bar: “Larry and Kate” “Haley” Utah.
Step 2 – Obituaries are a great source of information. If my search for Larry and Kate, daughter Haley, from Utah, isn’t getting me results I want or think are pertinent, I can try this: “Larry and Kate” “daughter Haley” Utah. In obituaries, the survivors are listed. Again, like before, you can switch the order of the names as well. If you find you are getting too many results, you can also put the state in quotations. I do this as a last ditch effort because sometimes people move and I don’t want to rule out neighboring states that may pop up.
IF YOU HAPPEN TO FIND AN OBITUARY
If you happen to find an obituary that has a Larry and Kate (that are listed as a married couple) and they have a daughter named Haley, and it is saying they live in that state, the chances are really good you have just found a last name. We’ll get to last names later.
Step 3 – Maybe you can’t find an obituary listing them as survivors. Next we look at things like hobbies, jobs, and religion. What DO you know about the adoptive parents? Are they a certain religion? Do they have a hobby they love? What is their occupation? Using the same method as step one, plug it into Google. Let’s say that Larry and Kate were members of the LDS church in Utah. I could plug in “Larry and Kate” “Haley” (or “daughter Haley”) “LDS” Utah. Sometimes churches have PDF files of flyers or announcements and you will find the names of members listed. Let’s say that Larry is an art teacher. A search for “Larry” “art teacher” Utah will yield results. You will have to sort through those results and maybe make a list of all the possible last names for our future steps. Let’s face it, how many Larry’s are also art teachers in Utah? Even if the answer was 50, is it worth it to explore each one?
*Note: The more unique names are, the more likely you are to have ease of finding what you’re looking for.*
Step 4 – Now, once you have done your diligent searches, or maybe while you’re still going through possible names, open up Facebook. It is very likely there is a Facebook page for them. Let’s say that I’m pretty sure, based on an obituary, that Larry and Kate are really Larry and Kate Dawson who live in Salt Lake City, Utah. The way Facebook searches are working now, I would type into the search bar: Larry Dawson Utah Salt Lake City. If nothing pops up, get rid of the city and just try for the state. You will have to click on the very bottom of the list that pops up where a magnifying glass is and what you typed in is next to it.
Once you have done this, another page will pop up. You will want to click on “People.”
After that you will get a list of results of all people with that name who are associated with Utah.
You will probably have to play around with this a bit and use both the adoptive mother and adoptive father’s name. If your child is of an age that they would probably have a Facebook account you could try them as well. But, I caution you, I would not contact them directly as it could result in a restraining order against you if the adoptive parents choose to do so.
Step 5 – “I can’t find a profile for them.” If you have an obituary, now you need to start looking at relatives. If you don’t have an obituary, go to Advanced Background Checks and find relatives there. It’s a simple search tool, no need to pay, and it will list names and relatives associated with people. (You can also use the “paid” search sites without paying. It will list relatives but ask you for money if you want more info. Sites such as Intellius and People Finders. Just use it for what you need – relatives or maiden names) You’ll need to use your abstract thinking. Obviously someone who is estimated to be 78 years old is not the right person and someone listed as a relative that is 90 years old most likely won’t be on Facebook. Additionally, the White Pages can be very helpful for finding “associated people” as well as addresses and phone numbers, once you have a last name that is.
Step 6 – Once you have been able to locate a relative on Facebook, it is likely the adoptive parents are on their friends list, if they have a Facebook page that is. Many people, nowadays, have their friends lists private. If you find this is a problem then don’t panic. Even the most locked down profiles, I’ve found, have a few public posts or pictures. Look at the “likes” and “comments” on these posts! These are these people’s friends – not hidden! Even if you can’t find the adoptive parents through likes or comments, see if you can find someone with the same last name or someone that has commented and seems close to the family. Go to their page. Is their friends list private? No? Good, search it. If you can’t find the adoptive parents there, look for the last name. How do you search a friends list? You simply type a first or last name into the little search bar.
What if the friends list of the family member is private as well? Repeat step 6.
Step 7 – If none of this is working for you, go back to basics. Is there anything specific that the adoptive parents are interested in? Maybe there is a group for it. Members of all open and closed groups are visible to the public. Try that.
Much of this is intuition. And although I used Facebook here, the same could be applied to any social media account with some tweaks. I could Google “Larry Dawson” “twitter” Utah. You’d be surprised what those magical little quotations marks can find for you. There’s also common sense. Most likely, in a church flyer, a husband’s name is going to be listed first. I adjust my search accordingly. Many churches also have Facebook pages now, too. If you can determine what church the adoptive parents are going to, and they have a Facebook page, you may find pictures of your child there.
While it may be extremely tempting to reach out to the adoptive parents or your child, I must say this. If your child is under 18, you run the risk of alerting them that you have figured them out. This means any future pictures they may publicly post will most likely be taken away from you via the “block” button on Facebook. Even if they blocked you, they may still lock down their accounts which will make it impossible to get any new pictures even from a friend’s account. If you are thinking there may have just been some mistake and that’s how you lost touch….I’m so sorry to say that is most likely NOT what happened. They cut you off for a reason and will most likely not welcome you with open arms. Instead they will probably FREAK that you’ve figured them out and know who they are. You do what you want, though.
Edit: Additionally Priscilla Sharp has created a WONDERFUL list of search resources and that can be found HERE.
A MESSAGE TO ADOPTIVE PARENTS WHO HAVE CLOSED OPEN ADOPTIONS
I have decided that my life’s goal is to find each and every one of you. Lock down your profiles all you want, I’ll get that address, phone number, email. You can’t hide. Not in today’s world. It’s as simple as that. I will hold you accountable. If you are thinking of adopting and have stumbled upon this post – let this be a warning to you as well.