Our Address:
12200 Fairhill Road, Floor A3
Fairhill Partners Collaborative Campus
Cleveland, OH 44120

Frequently Asked Questions About Search

  • Q: I hear about how hard it is for adoptees or birthparents to conduct a successful search, is that true?

    A: Adoption Network Cleveland has been helping people for over 30 years reunite. The vast majority of adoptees and birthparents who start a search will succeed in finding the person/people they seek. When working with Adoption Network Cleveland, you maintain control over your search. Working with experienced people can make all the difference.

  • Q: What is the difference between an original birth certificate and an amended birth certificate?

    A: Every adoptee has two birth certificates: original and amended. The original is created as a result of the actual birth, and the amended is created as a result of the adoption process.

  • Q: Will my search be easy once I get my original birth certificate?

    A: Having your original birth certificate is helpful in that you will have your birthmother's, and possibly your birthfather's name. Challenges can arise, however, such as having only a maiden name from decades earlier or dealing with a common name. Regardless of the information, you have available to you, we provide technical expertise and emotional support along the way. This is often one of the most important components of a search process. We are here for that.

  • A: There is much more involved in searching and reuniting than simply conducting the necessary research. To be sure that you are prepared and supported, we suggest that you come to at least two of our General Discussion Meetings because they will be helpful during the process and long after. As you consider reaching out to birth relatives, it can be very powerful and enlightening to hear the viewpoints of other members of the adoption triad.

  • Q: I don't live in Ohio and there are no such discussion meetings near where I live. How do I get support?

    A: If you are out of the area, we even have one monthly discussion meeting that happens online through Google Meet to provide a virtual face-to-face discussion opportunity. Using the format is easy and the meeting facilitator will walk you through any technical issues to help you access the meeting. You can also get support by calling our office.

  • Q: How long does a search take?

    A: It depends on the information received. Some proceed quickly and some move more slowly. You own the process of your search and you determine the pace that makes you comfortable.

  • Q: I'm a birthparent or birth sibling, can I initiate a search for the adoptee?

    A: Yes, Adoption Network Cleveland helps birthparents and birth siblings along the way, as well, as long as the adoptee is an adult (18+ years old). We also provide support for birthparents through peer-to-peer "soft shoulder" support and through our General Discussion meetings.

  • Q: Can't I just hire a private investigator?

    A: Adoption Network Cleveland offers an alternative to hiring a private investigator. Many of us have found from experience that the process of searching is, in itself, personally satisfying. Through this process, you often find parts of yourself that you are looking for (maybe unknowingly), as well as the people/person that you are seeking. We assist you in doing your own search through sharing our expertise, resources, and ongoing support along the way.

  • Q: My parent was adopted, can I do a search?

    A: Ohio-born adult adoptees and lineal descendants of the adoptee may access the adoption file at the Ohio Department of Health with proof of identity and genetic linkage.

  • Q: I have heard that DNA can be helpful in searching for birth relatives. How is that done?

    A: DNA testing can be a very powerful tool in adoption searches. Testing can help adoptees find birth family. If birth family is looking for an adoptee, DNA testing is a way to facilitate being found should the adoptee test. Common reliable tests are Ancestry, 23 and Me, My Heritage and FTDNA. If only choosing to start with one test, we recommend Ancestry because it has the largest database of user results and the ability to possibly view family trees of DNA relative matches. If possible, testing at both Ancestry and 23 and Me is recommended. Testing provides an ethnicity breakdown and a DNA relative match list that indicates all individuals that you share DNA with on that respective site along with how much DNA you share with each person. Close DNA matches combined with information from your original birth certificate and non-identifying information from your adoption agency can help you determine possible matches for birth family. Genealogical research determines how DNA relative matches are related to each other and what possibilities exist for how you might fit into that family tree. Our Search Assistance Program can help you develop a testing plan, understand your test results, and make the most of them. We provide experienced guidance on reaching out to DNA relative matches. For further information, refer back to the DNA section of our Search Assistance page.

  • A: Call or email Karen at our offices (216) 482-2323, karen.wyman@adoptionnetwork.org to discuss the specifics of your situation. You will also want to become a member of Adoption Network Cleveland.