How to Work With an Adoption Search Angel

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What is an Adoption Search Angel?

Mother kissing baby boy (2-5 months)
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Angels were one of my mother's favorite things. She loved them for their beauty and for what they are — guardians. Angels are described as loving and kind, and they show selflessness in their acts. There are many angels within the adoption community. Some of them are called "adoption search angels."

An adoption search angel volunteers his time and talents to help families who have been touched by adoption. He hunts for answers and information for birth mothers and adoptees who want to reach out to their birth parents. Adoption search angels might help a birth mom locate a high school yearbook so she can see the child she placed for adoption for the first time. Search angels explore registries to help adoptees find relatives who are open to contact and for answers about their roots. They're people who want to give a little peace to families with questions.

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Starting a Search with an Adoption Search Angel

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First you must find an angel who is familiar with your geographic search area. Locate your area on this list or any other search angel list — they abound on the Internet. But proceed with caution. Make sure the organization is reputable and can vouch for the angel you have in mind, and vet individuals as best as possible. I can't personally vouch for the people on my list so do your homework. 

When you identify a search angel you want to work with, send an email and include the following information: 

  • Your name and the part of the adoption triad you represent — you might be the adoptee, the natural mother or the grandmother.

  • The date of birth of adoptee who is being sought, or your own if you're the adoptee. 

  • Your state of birth if you're the adoptee, or the state of birth if you're looking for an adoptee. 

  • Any known information about the individual or individuals you're looking for. Even the smallest clue can turn out to be the key to finding your family member, so don't omit a detail because you think it's probably unimportant. Let the search angel decide its value and whether he can use it. 

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Rules for Working With an Adoption Search Angel

Group of Little Children Holding Sign Reading ADOPT
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Keep a few basic rules to keep in mind when you're working with a search angel. Adoption search angels will not do searches for minor children — you must be at least 18 years old to initiate a search. In most cases, a search angel cannot make contact for you with someone you've identified as your birth parent or child, and they can't ask that individual to contact you. 

Adoption search angels don't charge for their services, but they can ask you to reimburse fees they incur while searching for you. 

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Would You Like to Be an Adoption Search Angel Volunteer?

mother and adopted son outdoors in winter
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Even if you're not a part of an adoption triad, you might find that conducting adoption searches is gratifying and enjoyable. If you have extra time and you enjoy a challenge, this might be the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. You can contact search angel groups on the Internet or through social media sites — each may have its own unique requirements to serve and some may offer training by other established angels to get you started. You might even want to "tag along" with a working angel to make sure this is something you want to do.

Success stories abound, but angels don't always find who they're looking for so there can be sadness as well. Still, those successes could warm your heart and the hearts of others for a long time to come.