Birth Family

Birth parents and adoptees may search for each other after the adoptee reaches the age of 18. Because Holt’s headquarters are in Oregon, Oregon law governs all of Holt’s post adoption services. Oregon Statutes 109.425 & 109.455 require an adoptee to be 18 or older to initiate a search themselves.

Our partner agencies in India are happy to hear from adoptees, and are willing to forward letters and photos to foster parents or other caregivers from the adoptee’s past. However, due to the current climate surrounding relinquishment in India, especially in cases of an unwed mother, these agencies typically will not conduct a search for birth parents, nor will they release any identifying information. Although some of the stigmas against unwed mothers are changing, contact from an adoption agency could have serious repercussions for the birth mother. The agencies may be willing to search for extended family members or married birth parents in a few rare cases. If you would like to discuss this further, we would be happy to talk with you. There is always the possibility that Holt can connect you with someone from your past who remembers you, has a story about you, or can provide insight into your history.

If you would like to discuss your background with a Holt staff person, we must first confirm that your adoption was indeed facilitated by Holt International. Once this has been verified you’ll receive an email with additional information.

Documentation:

We recommend that adoptees gather a complete set of their documents from their adoptive parents and/or from Holt before beginning a search on their own. If you are unsure if you have a complete copy of your child materials, or your documents have been lost or destroyed over time, we are very happy to provide you with another copy. Please see File Copies for more information.

File Assessment:

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In order to determine if a search is possible, your file is reviewed by Holt International staff. This is referred to as the “assessment.” An assessment of your file is needed to determine if a search for birth family is possible. Holt will review all of the documents in your file, including any intake notes in our possession, and determine if our partner agency in India may have enough information to conduct a search. This will depend on how you came into care, how much information was provided to our partner agency at that time, and several other factors. Please see File Copies for more information. You are welcome to request the assessment only, without any file copies, at no charge.

If Holt determines there may be enough information on which to base a search, Holt will request you complete some legal forms, and provide an introductory letter and a couple of photos of you growing up and a current photo. Experience has shown that when birth family are contacted, the first thing they ask for is a current photo, and to know how they are, what their life has been like. Only the letter and photos will be forwarded to our partner in India, via email. The legal documents are for our records, and are required by law.

How could contacting my birth mother endanger her current relationships?

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Due to the stigma still attached to unwed pregnancies and relinquishment, many unwed birth mothers haven’t informed their spouses, family or children of their history. Likewise, married couples who have relinquished a child due to poverty or other considerations may not have informed their other children, and are fearful of how they will be viewed. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want contact with the children they relinquished; just that our partner agency in India needs to proceed carefully. Although attitudes about adoption are changing, India is a very, very old culture, and is slower to change.