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​9.1 Searching and Reunion

It is only natural that as the adopted child gets older he or she will want to know about their origins.

They will most probably be curious or feel a need to find out more about their identity, their culture and ethnicity and may want to know physical and personality characteristics of birth parents. They may want to trace birth parents (if still alive) or members of their biological family.

When planning to start a family they may want to know if there is any family history of any illnesses or disease.

At the time of adopting is the best time to gather as much information as possible on the child.  Many overseas countries do not have good records retention, so many years later trying to communicate needs to a foreign organisation from afar may prove expensive and difficult.

Most people consider the best approach is to be as open as possible with the adopted child about their past and if possible create a “life book” with photos of the adoptive family’s time together in the country of the child’s origin, photos of caregivers and any belongings the child may have had etc, details of why the child was abandoned, the child’s likes and dislikes at the time, the trip home, copies of documents such as birth certificates, etc.

  • Where possible, if finances permit, discuss the possibility of revisiting the country of the child’s origin sometime when the child is older, emotionally prepared and mature.

  • There are several issues relating to a reunion with birth family.  Adopted children need to be prepared for the fact that the birth family may not be contactable, due to not wanting to be, no records of their whereabouts, secrecy laws at the time of adoption, or they may not be alive.  The time of possible reunion can be a very emotional time for the adopted child.  They will be visiting their birth country where they will experience being with a whole nation of others who look like them, while they do not have the same cultural background (e.g. language, food).  ​

  • Common types of questions of children searching are: 

    • What their birth parents names were

    • Were they both living at the time of the adoption

    • Were either of them married to anyone else

    • Were birth grandparents alive at the time of birth​

    • What colour eyes, hair did birth parents have​

SENAME recognises the importance to children of having identifying information about the child’s birth parents/biological families and of meeting the biological families some time in the future.  Sename, CYF and ‘Compassion for Orphans’ have agreed certain processes working collaboratively to assist adoptive families in the future search and reunion of birth families.  Sename will collect as much information as possible about the biological family for this purpose and provide information with the Child Study Assessment Report. 

Should ‘Compassion for Orphans’ receive an enquiry, ‘Compassion for Orphans’ , as an accredited body, has undertaken to comply with the requirements of the New Zealand Adult Adoption Information Act (1985), (refer CYF Know Your Rights Brochure) whereby any requests for information under the Act received directly from an adopted person or their parents will be referred to:

Adoption Services
The Department of Child Youth and Family 
New Zealand

The Department of Child Youth and Family will contact SENAME to:
  • ensure that SENAME is aware of the enquiry; and

  • ensure that the matter is handled in accordance with the law in Chile (e.g. access to personal information); and​

  • liaise with SENAME on records and information they may have​

For adopted people seeking to meet their biological family the Department of Child Youth and Family also provide advice and a booklet entitled ‘Approaching your Birth Parents – Issues and Options to Consider’ available from your local CYF office.