How to choose a Professional Searcher

You need to use your research and communication skills to make certain that the search professional you choose will be in tune to your needs as you begin the search journey. Most of us wouldn’t think of purchasing an important service or product without thorough research. The same theory applies to hiring a search professional.

BE A WISE BUYER: The first step to choosing a search professional is to become informed as a wise buyer. While I personally feel that a person with years of experience in search and reunion is very important, I also feel that choosing a searcher that is a member of the adoption community (adoptee, birth parent or adoptive parent) is equally important. There are many professional searchers that are well known in the adoption community that have deep roots, through personal experience AND years of professional experience, enabling them to understand the complexity of search and reunion.


Remember though that search professionals are providing services for a fee. You want the best price from the most proficient and knowledgeable searcher that you can find. Research as much information as possible about adoption searches, reunions and the post reunion process.


Is the search professional or search agency physically located in the state where the adoptee was born or are they thousands of miles away?

Does the search professional or search agency specialize in adoption searches in the state of birth of the adoptee or will they claim to have access to several states or all the states as in a ìone size fits all policy?

What are their fees? Search fees and services vary widely on the internet; some searchers charge $300 and others as much as $3000 or more. Ask about upfront fees and their ìno find-no feeî policy. Payments required before any services are provided should set off alarms. Many people find out after paying a search fee upfront that there is no refund policy for a search that cannot be completed. It ís wise to consider only firms that require payment when the search is successfully completed.

Ask if the professional provides you with a free and no obligation search quote for successfully completing your search. (Note: the quote should never be open ended it should be a firm cost for completing the search.) Ask if pre-search and post reunion consultations are included in the search fee or if they are an extra charge.

Ask if the searcher will be available to you outside normal business hours.

Ask about the average length of a search.

Ask for referrals and actually contact them.


Check the internet by googling their name.

Check the searchers association with professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau; local and national post adoption organizations; local or national genealogical groups.


Once you have hired a searcher who is right for you, listen to them! Their experience is what you are paying them for. They may ask you to request additional information from sources that they will provide to you. The road to a successful search may be delayed slightly by your need to get adequate information to the searcher. But, you owe it to yourself to take every reasonable precaution that the person that will be found is the person that you are biologically related to based on all available information. An adoptee can do this by requesting information about birth relatives from the adoption agency or the State. A birth relative should provide information about gender, date of birth, place of birth and any names associated with the birth.

Don’t hesitate to contact your searcher as often as needed during your search. Contact indicates your ongoing interest and need to know.

Finally stay positive and know that your search is being handled confidentially and professionally because you made a careful and thoughtful choice!