How to find your biological parents
Adopted children have many questions and these are questions only the biological family can answer.
It is disheartening how little adoptees and adoptive parents know about the search for biological parents – most do not even know where to start. Many biological parents are not even aware that they are now permitted to enquire about the adopted child.

All adoptions in South Africa must be registered with the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria and these records are kept for 70 years. The new Children’s Act of 2010 states that an adoptee may request his adoption records and start searching for his biological parents when he is 18 years old. The adoptive parents also have access to the adoption records if the adoptee is over 18. The biological parents are allowed to request information, which will be noted on the records. The child won’t be contacted if a biological parent makes an enquiry.

What About The Biological Parents?

Before 1987 biological parents were not allowed to search for their child, but this legislation has since changed. Once the child turns 18, they are allowed to enquire about the child, but will only be given information if the child and adoptive parents have given their written permission. If the biological parent enquires about the child before the child decides to access the records, the request will be relayed to the child once he requests the records.

Where do you start?

Firstly, you must speak to your adoptive parents about your plans.  It is important that you are honest with them. Ask them for any information about your adoption, biological family or anything else that might help.

You can start by requesting your adoption records through the adoption agency that handled your adoption, a local social worker, the Registrar of Adoptions in Pretoria or a private locating specialist. You will need the following information:

a.    Where you were born
b.    The date you were born
c.    Your full name
d.    Your ID number
e.    Your current address
f.    The full names of your adoptive parents and their ID numbers
g.    Who handled the adoption
h.    Any additional information you might have to narrow down the search.

Once you’ve received your adoption records, you need to decide whether you want to actually find and meet your biological parents. You can use an adoption agency or private locating specialist to find them, but most adoptees use a specialist – they are generally faster, albeit more expensive. It is important to choose someone that can give you the counselling and support that you need for every step of this journey. You also need to know that locating your biological parents can be very time-consuming – many factors can delay the process.

When your biological parents are found, the agency will find out how they want to proceed. The unfortunate reality is that some biological parents do not want to meet the child – in that case you will be counselled to deal with the rejection and loss. Most cases, however, will go to the next step – which is anything from corresponding to meeting. The agency will stay involved until both parties are comfortable with meeting each other personally.

Useful Sites:

Adoption SA

Adoption Reunions South Africa


Adoptee Connect

Adoption Reconnect

Useful Contacts:

Monica Marais

Magdalena House, Bellville

Tel: 021 948-3637

Registrar of Adoptions

Contact Person: Marietjie Botha

Private Bag X901



Fax: 012 323 3733

If you were adopted, have you tried tracing your birth mom or dad?
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