The Child Welfare Information Gateway of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warns international adoptees that searches for birth parents abroad may be more challenging than searches in the United States. While an international search may present some difficulties, adoptees hoping to locate birth parents in Germany can use a variety of search strategies. International adoptees with German origins may be able to gather birth relative information through immigration or consular records held by U.S. or German government agencies, as well as through the relevant adoption agencies or international nonprofits.
Contact the U.S. adoption agency that oversaw your adoption and find out whether it can provide you with as much information as it has about the German adoption agency or orphanage involved with your placement. Write or telephone the identified German institution, with the assistance of a translator or interpreter if necessary, to request its records regarding your adoption. Use any resulting information about the birth parents' identities to continue your search if you would like to locate them.
Evaluate adoption registry websites and select options that seem reputable by reading reviews or seeking recommendations from an adoption agency. Conduct a search using Germany as the country of origin and include any other information that you may have about the birth parents, such as their surnames. Consider adoptee assistance through an international nonprofit such as the International Social Service, which conducts searches for birth parents in foreign countries.
Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate providing consular services to U.S. citizens in Germany. Select the consular office that serves the region of Germany closest to any known locations related to your adoption, such as the municipality where you were born or other places identified through your family history research. Ask the consular office if it keeps records related to adoptions of German children by American citizens pursuant to the U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, which handles intercountry adoption issues. Prepare to provide proof of your identity and other records if requested by the consular office.
Contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make a genealogy request that could result in information about immigration records and family history related to your adoption from Germany. Follow USCIS instructions to submit a genealogy request through the online system. Identify your country of birth, actual birth date or estimated birth date and information about your surname, as well as any other names if your name changed after adoption. Provide your contact information to receive any search results.
Items you will need
- Information related to your German birth parents, such as names, dates and places of significance
- Ask for support from your family and friends, as a search for your birth parents may become an emotional process.
- Seek advice from the adoption agency or an adoption lawyer to find out more about intercountry adoption laws.
- Think about whether a cultural tour or vacation in Germany might be a positive experience for you.
- Prepare yourself for a potentially time-consuming and emotional search process.
- Approach any potential birth parent match results with caution and consider asking for documents or other evidence of the relationship's authenticity.
- Germany image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com