A. Adoptees can request nonidentifying information, such as location and time of birth, from the adoption agency. If you don’t know the name of the adoption agency, call the state social services department or the birth hospital to ask. Unfortunately, this isn’t always successful: I made calls to the Virginia Department of Social Services <www.dss.state.va.us> and the University of Virginia Hospital <hsc.virgtnia.edu>, and both organizations said their records date to only the 1940s. If you do learn the name of the adoption agency but discover it’s out of business, check with local historical societies to see whether they have the records (or know who does).
A more costly approach but the one that potentially could yield the most information is to petition the court to open the records. First, locate the county that holds the adoption record, so you know where to file your case. Start with the Clerk of Circuit Court for Albemarle County, where your mother was born, and then check the county where her adoptive parents lived. Keep in mind that birth mothers sometimes used aliases, and adoption agencies generally didn’t verify birth information.
Posting queries on online forums such as <www.adoptionregistry.com> and <groups.yahoo.com/group/virginiababieslostnfound> also may prove fruitful. State your question clearly and give all the details you know. Finally, contact the American Adoption Congress. To find Virginia’s representative, visit <www.americanadoptioncongress.org>.
From the April 2004 Family Tree Magazine