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Searching - It's up to you to choose if and when to collect the pieces of your own personal jigsaw puzzle.





Reasons for Searching




“It wasn’t until I got my adoption information and made contact with my birth family that I managed to find the missing pieces. It was only then that I realised how important those pieces were to working out who I was.” (Peter)


The search for identity is important for everyone, but this is particularly the case for people who are adopted. Growing up in a family with others who have similar physical features, personality traits and mannerisms is something that non-adopted people take for granted. For adoptees, this frame of reference is often missing and leads to questions about identity and belonging.


Knowing background information is a primary motivation for many adoptees commencing a search. Adoptees have basic questions around the reasons why they were adopted, who their parents were and their family of origin. Some adopted people report having feelings of disconnection growing up in families where they do not resemble anyone else (sometimes, even when they were not aware of their adoption).


Not all adoptees feel the need to search for their foundations, but this often changes with significant life events, such as the birth of a child or the death of one or both adoptive parents. It is not uncommon for people who are adopted to postpone the search due to a sense of loyalty towards their adoptive parents. People who are adopted also have no access to family medical history and a sudden need for this information may initiate a search.


An adopted person finding out about their birth family provides answers to long held questions.


Some reasons why adopted persons decide to search are:

  • to find out more about their 'roots'

  • to seek answers about why they were adopted

  • they have been triggered by an event, loss or happy occassion

  • to see someone they look like

  • find out their medical history

  • new relationships

  • to build new relationships with parent and family

  • to find resolution with the loss associated with abandonment




“He’s turning 42 this year. Not a year goes by that I don’t think about him on his birthday and at Christmas time. In the beginning the sadness completely overwhelmed me. I still feel his loss deeply every year on his birthday.” (Gwen) 


The loss of a child to adoption has lifelong implications. Ongoing grief is a common experience.  Frequently parents were not afforded the opportunity to grieve the loss of their child and this loss continues to be unresolved today.


Parents who have lost a child to adoption also have long unanswered questions such as:

  • Is my child happy and well?

  • Was the adoption successful?

  • What does he/she look like/personality?

  • Does he/she feel rejected?

  • Would he/she like to meet/form a relationship?

  • Is he/she alive or dead?


Some parents are reluctant to initiate a search because they feel they don’t have a right to intrude in an adoptee’s life.  They also feel uncertain about whether their child knows they are adopted. 


Some reason why parents decide to search for their children are:

  • they have been triggered by an occassion, such as anniversary, birth or death and are feeling the loss and sadness

  • wanting to know how the 'child' is and to reassure themselves that the 'child' is well

  • desire to pass on medical information

  • resolution of their loss and grief

  • desire to release feelings associated with the decision

  • new relationships

  • wanting to build a new 'son / daughter' relationship

  • desire to share their story of what happened with the adopted person

  • to bring an end to the secrets​  


Those affected by adoption can contact our Forced Adoption Support Service on 1800 21 03 13. 

Inner & Outer Journey
No matter how self-sufficient we think we are, it is a good idea to have a range of supports in place when undertaking an adoption-related search and reunion. In addition to your spouse & family (parents, children and siblings), long-term friends who have been supportive before, Jigsaw Qld offers peer & professional support & support groups. When undertaking a search and reunion, it is important to remember that there are two journeys in progress - the inner & outer journey. Find out more here.
Search Basics and Stages
To begin to search may be a difficult decision to make, but it is certainly natural for adopted people to be curious and to seek answers to questions they may have thought about since finding out they were adopted. Find out more about the steps involved in searching for your relatives and they stages you might experience as you do here.

Adoption & DNA

DNA tests have played an increasingly important role in the lives of adopted people. In the past decade, as testing has become more financially accessible and our ability to understand and use the results has increased, more people are taking the tests and using them to fill in gaps in their family tree. Find out more here.

Information Sheets

Studies indicate that the majority of adoptee searchers are female, so it is not surprising, then, that male adoptees are also conspicuously under-represented in support groups and at adoption conferences.


While many of the issues confronting male adoptees are the same as those facing their female counterparts, they are usually filtered through a different set of lived experiences. Of course men have feelings too, but they often don’t have words for them.


Not talking about feelings is often a part of male upbringing. The problem is made more difficult when many males were not encouraged to talk about adoption when they were growing up.


Trevor Jordan Phd, Male Adoptee Workshop March 2013



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