Help me find a long lost half-sibling in the US
June 22, 2016 3:03 PM   Subscribe

My mother gave up a son for adoption in 1979 in the state of NJ. She hid this from me for most of my childhood, and now I would so much like to find him. I have her consent and a few bits of info, but am unsure how to proceed. Where do I go from here? What are my next steps?

My mother gave up a son for adoption in 1979 in the state of NJ. She hid this from me for most of my childhood, and now i would so much like to find him. She is willing to help, but all she has are his first name, birth date, and adoption city. How do we proceed?

I have to imagine that even if we do give our info to the adoption agency, he'll need to be the one to initiate contact, as that seems most ethical.. but say he doesn't know he's adopted, does that mean there is no hope for us to find him?
posted by quinnsett to Human Relations (14 answers total)
It's a long shot, but one thing I'd consider doing is a getting a 23 and Me profile and selecting the option that allows you to find blood relatives. They will only tell you if they find someone if that person has also consented to finding birth relatives.

I think by 1979 it was no longer the custom to lie to kids about being adopted. He probably knows, though that doesn't mean he is searching for his birth family or that he would be interested in having his birth family find him. He might be, though, so it doesn't hurt to look and try.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:08 PM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you're doing this and not your mum, this could cause him a lot of pain. Is there a reason your mother is not driving it? To find that it's a curious sibling, not a longing parent that's searching for you, is potential for quite serious trauma for her son.
posted by taff at 3:08 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and since you only share 1/4 of his DNA and your mom shares half, she should probably be the one getting the 23 and Me DNA profile.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:09 PM on June 22, 2016

Eh, I'd be infinitely curious if one of my hypothetical half-siblings tried to find me. 23andme is the route I chose for passive accessibility, but if your mother is willing, she can register with the state, which will allow the adoptee to get in touch with her if they're also interested.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:11 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

My mother tried to find him, but she's not very good with administrative stuff. And I'm not just "curious" about him, the reason I want to find him is that it pains me deeply to know I have a brother somewhere in the world that I may never meet, so I have to try. If he has any interest in understanding or hearing them, I think it could be important for him to know her reasons for giving him up, which she never expressed to anyone at the time.

About this being my business or not, the way I see it, I have a right to try to know him, but not if he doesn't want to know me back. But it absolutely is our business who our siblings are if we care to know. Just not at said sibling's expense.
posted by quinnsett at 3:20 PM on June 22, 2016 [9 favorites]

In addition to New Jersey's official registry, there are also various online registries. The list at this Wikipedia page could be a good place to start.

Good luck! I think this is much more than merely being curious. One of my adopted siblings has two biological siblings whom we have never been able to locate, and I know it would mean a lot to him if we could. I don't know what your sibling thinks (these things can run the gamut, and my other adopted sibling has always been relatively uninterested), but there is certainly a good chance that he would like to have the chance to talk to you and your mom.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 3:37 PM on June 22, 2016

For what it is worth, Mr. gudrun, who is adopted, would be more than happy if a half sibling found him. You will want to pursue all the various options available, from 23andme, to ancestrydna, to the state registry, to the online registries, to maximize the possibilities.
posted by gudrun at 3:40 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Contact the adoption agency if they're still in business or have a successor agency. Because it may be that they have permission to give you more information than you think, or that they're able to reach out to the adoptive family on your behalf, or any one of a number of arrangements that different agencies and states may have. At the very least, people who work there have probably gotten this query before and may be able to offer advice or support.
posted by decathecting at 7:26 PM on June 22, 2016

I was also going to recommend 23 and Me. I've been contacted by an adoptee who is a cousin, and someone else I know has had the same experience.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:47 PM on June 22, 2016

About this being my business or not, the way I see it, I have a right to try to know him, but not if he doesn't want to know me back.

That's exactly why the state adoption reunification registry exists. He gets to say if he wants any contact at all, and he gets to initiate it.

Your brother may have no idea he's adopted. You can potentially cause a vast amount of pain to another human and to their family by making uninvited contact. Your brother may know he's adopted and be enraged at your mother, or just entirely disinterested, and will potentially cause your mother vast renewed heartache.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:27 PM on June 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

New Jersey passed a thing opening up adoption records, but the records won't be open until 2017, giving parties a chance to opt out if they don't want to be contacted. You might check with NJ CARE, the group that advocated to open these records to see what their starting advice is.
posted by katinka-katinka at 5:10 AM on June 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Thank you, everyone. I so much appreciate this.
posted by quinnsett at 7:40 AM on June 23, 2016

any American adoptee born in 1979 will almost certainly know they were adopted. register with the agency your mother used. you can hire a search angel too if you want to. if you do find the person please be slow and gentle and honor thier feelings as to whether they want to enter into reunion.

be forewarned that very very few males are interested in reunion and some get pretty angry at meddling from bio families. good luck in your search but again remember the adoptee has a right to privacy if they want that.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 8:27 AM on June 23, 2016

Was going to send you to NJCARE but Katinka beat me to it. Depending where you are, there is a great support group that meets every month in Morristown NJ for anyone connected to adoption in any way. Even if you cannot attend meetings they can hook you up with resources for both search and dealing with the emotional aspects of adoption and reunion. NJCARE has contact information for that group and others.

I am a birthmother reunited with a son who initially was not interested but eventually came around and we are friends. He recently met one of his half brothers whom I raised. Do the DNA thing as well, sometimes that will lead you to relatives who can connect you with biological parents or siblings.

Best of luck in your search.
posted by mermayd at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Landlord Problems   |   Hey Girl With Those Pretty Glasses, Where Did You... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.