Adoptees looking for birth parents will conduct what's called a "birth parent search." The reasons adoptees look for birth parents vary. The primary reason given for searching by adoptees is to find one's birth parents and contact them for medical reasons. However, many people begin searching out of curiosity and to answer other questions that have risen from growing up with an adoptive identity genetically tied to someone whose identity is mysterious yet connected to an adoptee on a cellular level.
Often the search for birth parents is motivated by monumental events taking place in an adoptee's life, such as a pregnancy, graduation, marriage or death. The development of a genetic disease or another hereditary condition may also develop as an adoptee matures and this can lead to the desire to meet or reunite with a birth parent for the sake of tying loose ends.
There are passive and active methods to go about a search, the most common being through a state registry. State registries operate via mutual consent. This means that the adoptee and birth parent must both register with the state before an adoption record is released to the two triad members. If one does not register, the record can still be released but with nonidentifying information about the other triad members involved in the adoption.
Adoptees can also petition the courts to have a confidential intermediary access an adoption record and mediate contact between members of the adoption triad. Adoptees may also look to search agencies for help. Search Angels are volunteers who also offer search services to adoptees looking for birth parents.