Seeking Birth Family

At IAMAdoptee, we believe that the decision to search for birth family members must be the sole propriety of the adopted person. At IAMAdoptee, we know that search and reunion can be daunting and overwhelming. We want you to have all the resources to guide you. We also know that searching is only part of the process. The aftermath of a search, whether connections are made or not, can be the toughest part of this process. Here is what we have prepared for you…

Checklist of documentation to create your own file

  • American agency name and contact details
  • Overseas agency and contact details
  • Orphanage name and contact details
  • Adoption papers
  • Foster family names
  • Court documents
  • Citizenship certificate
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Letters, notes and any correspondence
  • Referral photo(s)
  • Current photo of yourself
  • Photos of original clothing or any articles you came with
  • Arrival photos

Download this list in PDF

10 Question to ask yourself:

  1. What do you know is your story (based on your referral information or based on what you were told by your adoptive parents)?
  2. How would you feel if your story is totally different upon reunion?
  3. Why now?  What is happening in your life that NOW feels like the right time?
  4. Who are you searching for?
  5. What are your questions?
  6. What are your memories? What images do you have in your head? What smells, sounds do you remember? What do you think you remember?
  7. Do you have any distinguishing marks or scars on your body that might help identify you to your birth family?
  8. What do you know about your birth country at the time you were placed for adoption?
  9. What do you know about your birth country now?
  10. What if you don’t find anyone?

10 Things to do:

  1. Write what you know – letter to self…”This I know to be true of me”
  2. Map of support – who are your “go to” people for emotional support
  3. Interview another adoptee
  4. Read these blog posts and articles:
  5. Write a letter to your birth – mother, father, sibling….
  6. Find a local adoptee organization to meet other adoptees who have searched
  7. Compile all your adoption paperwork
  8. Write a synopsis of how you think your birth family is now
  9. Learn a little of the culture
  10. Find good counsel for yourself

Navigating life after the first meeting with birth family is another journey.  In 2019, Co-Founder, Joy and Team Member, Whitney, shared their thoughts and experiences of navigating over 10 years of being in reunion.

After the Reunion

South Korea

InKAS and KoRoot are groups that will help with translations and will escort adoptees to agencies, orphanages, finding sites, police stations and hometowns; also provide lodging for adoptees at extremely low fees.


Gift of Identity provides funding to international adoptees visiting their birth country with the goal of helping them understand their identity, heritage, and culture.


Created by Katie Tania Betancourt, adopted from Colombia. 
To connect with Katie, please email us at [email protected]

(1) Collecting all your Colombian adoption documents

  • Your adoptive parents would be the first source for this information. 
  • If your a-parents will not give your documents to you or say they don’t have them, you can request your documents for free from ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar) – they may or may not give your documents to you.
  • In some cases, the governments of the country you were adopted into may have copies of your documents

(2) The most important document is your Registro de Nacimiento/Registro Civil (your Colombian birth certificate).  This document holds the following information:

  • The cedula number (Identification number, may look like cc# on your documents followed by a number) 
  • Your Mother or whoever you are searching for and/or the following things: a complete name (2 last names), a date of birth or place of birth.
  • With this information you can then decide if you need or want to use an investigator.

(3) Investigadors (investigators) 

  • Most investigators base their prices on what information you have, the difficulty of the case, if they will need to travel, the cost of obtaining information, and how much they will keep for compensation for their time and work.
  • Prices range from free to over $1000. There are many options. Do your research. Would not recommend paying more than $600 to $800 max.
  • If you need assistance with recommendations of investigadors, contact Katie at [email protected]

(4) Other ways to search for birth relatives: 

  • Facebook – yes, this is one way to do it, search by name
  • You can also do DNA testing with Family Tree DNA (family finder test) or one of the other DNA companies.
  • Post your story in Spanish – with the info you have and a baby picture and current picture – on various sites popular in Colombia. This may help for those of us who have no information or falsified information.
  • Put your story in a local newspaper in Colombia, or get on radio or TV

Be mindful. You need to prepare for any outcome with a search. Statistics show 90% of reunions are welcomed and go well. But, you may find your mother has passed away or does not want contact, feels too sad, guilty, afraid or ashamed to have contact, or that you find a different reality than what appears in your documents. Katie suggests going into searching with no judgment toward your biological mother and just being open to what is. It may take time and reunion is a process in itself. But we encourage all who want and need to search to do it! Katie is available for questions, recommendations, translations and support.


We refer you to adoptee Gemma Givens, Founder and Executive Director of Next Generation Guatemala

For additional information about this organization and ways they can support you: 


We refer you to Indian adoptee, Dr. Kripa Cooper – Lewter at
[email protected]


“i was adopted form Paraguay” on Facebook administered by a
Paraquayan adoptee, Julian Rotela Rosow

For all areas of the world

The TIES program – This organization conducts birth country tours but also has
the means to assist adoptess to search for
birth family members –