Tracking Down Adopted Ancestors
Question: My grandfather was adopted as an infant. How do I go about finding information on his birth family?
Answer from Cathy Barlow, a professional genealogist with expertise in adoption research writing in the Ancestry.com Monthly Update in July:
Historically, knowing one’s true ancestry has been thwarted for adoptees because of the practice of “sealing adoptee’s records,”which began in the 1940s. Until the last few years this created a nightmare for adoptees doing genealogical research. It has been estimated that 118,000 U.S. persons were adopted per year since 1940,totaling approximately 6,000,000 adoptees. This in turn has created almost 20–90 million descendants of adoptees who have been stonewalled in researching their blood lines. But social and legal avenues are now opening for adoptees to access their information. A search for a grandfather (or anyone) who was adopted will depend both on where and when he was adopted. The website www.abcadoptions.com/adoptionrecords.htm will inform you of exactly which states allow access to information for which years.
As in much genealogical research, precisely what is available will often depend upon state law at the time the record was created. Her article "Ask the Expert: Adoption Records" may provide you the tools to help you uncover the parentage of your adopted ancestor within the Ancestry Library Edition subscription database -- available inside all the branches of the Beaufort County Library. We are unable to offer access to ALE at your home or office.