At LFS, we understand what a big decision it is deciding to search for your birth family or child you placed for adoption. We want to share our perspective and knowledge on the search process with you and discuss all potential outcomes. Locating birth relatives has been very fulfilling for many people who have searched, while others have had less than positive experiences. The process of searching is deeply personal and it may uncover unanticipated emotions. If you feel ready to search, consider your options below.
Obtain information through Lutheran Family Services
We offer two services related to search and reunion. A good first step is to contact us at 303-217-5840 to confirm that the adoption did take place through LFS.
If interested in either of the following services, you will need to complete a post adoption application.
Option 1 – Birth History
- The fee for a Birth History is $150.
- A Birth History includes medical and social information about birth families, but no identifying information. There is a varying amount of information in each file, depending on how much counseling the birth family received. The reality is that sometimes there is a lot of information we are able to share and other times there is not much information. There may also be limited medical history in the file depending on how much information was shared at the time the adoption took place.
- Obtaining a Birth History can be a good first step for those considering a search. It is also a good option for those who are not currently interested in search and reunion, but would like any health information on file or would like basic information regarding the circumstances of their birth.
- After LFS has received the application forms from you, it may take up to 6 weeks to complete a Birth History. The reason for this timeframe is because all of our older adoption records are on microfilm. This means that our staff is responsible for searching through microfilm for your particular file and then transcribing the information. If the adoption took place more recently, the file is likely more accessible than those on microfilm but would still require our staff to transcribe information.
Option 2 – Full Search Process
- The fee for a search process is $500.
- A pre-search counseling session is required prior to our staff beginning the search. Typically, an in-person session takes place, but if not possible, a session over the phone can occur. The purpose of this is to discuss expectations, motivations, ways to establish boundaries, to discuss fears and concerns, and to explore various potential outcomes.
- One of our staff members will gather information from the original adoption file and use this to start a search.
- If an adoptee is searching for birth parents, we typically search first for the birth mother because there is usually more information about her in the file.
- If the person being searched for is found, our staff will reach out to them on your behalf. They will be offered a counseling session similar to the pre-search counseling session you will have received.
- If all parties agree to it, we facilitate at least the first communication (typically a letter exchange). After the first communication, it is decided by both parties whether or not to continue exchanging communication through LFS or to begin to communicate independently.
- If we are not successful in finding your birth family, it is possible to turn over the search to a confidential intermediary for an additional fee. We would remain involved to assist in facilitating communication and to provide counseling as needed.
Search without the help of an agency or an intermediary:
- Colorado implemented a new law in 2014 that opened adoption court records beginning January 1, 2016. The documents available do not include counseling or associated records from LFS. For adoptees, this means you can access your original birth certificate and other court documents related to your adoption. These records would have identifying information about your birth parents. You can begin searching as soon as you receive the records. For birth parents, this means you can access the original birth certificate for your child and relinquishment paperwork. None of the documents that birth parents receive contain identifying information about the adoptee or adoptive family. Click here for more information on Colorado’s current laws: www.asrconline.org/laws
- In order to obtain an original birth certificate, an application will need to be sent to the Colorado Department of Vital Records. Find the link to the form here: www.colorado.gov/order-original-birth-certificate
- In order to obtain your adoption court records, you will need to submit a form to the county court where your adoption was finalized. This is likely to be the county where your adoptive family was living at the time or Denver County. (LFS was located in Denver County at the time of many adoption finalizations and some families finalized there.) We have found that it takes a varying amount of time for adoptees to receive these records, anywhere from two weeks to many months. Find the link to the form here: www.courts.state.co.us/forms
- To search, consider using online tools such as Facebook, ancestry-related websites, vital statistics websites, and people-finder websites. Some resources that can be a helpful guide to searching on your own can be find here: www.asrconline.org/search-help
If you are interested in learning more about search and reunion, please fill out the form below or call 303-217-5840.