Adoption detectives help adoptees find their way home

“An adoption detective is an individual who researches biological and genetic connections between individuals. They conduct searches of public and private records, research historical documents, and interview persons of interest for the purpose of uncovering genealogical information linking biologically related individuals, persons related by marriage, foster parents, and other key contacts.” Judith Land

Adoption Detective | Judith Land

“Doing things for others is a powerful way to boost our own happiness and others around us. Helping others promotes positive behavior, keeps us mentally stimulated and provides a sense of purpose.” Judith Land

Investigations conducted by adoption detectives have potential to result in lengthy arduous or convoluted worldwide investigations across international borders and geographic regions. They may create unexpected adventures reminiscent of classic mystery novels leading to the discovery of previously hidden information, sometimes leading in directions not originally anticipated, or what the genealogist, detective, mystery writer, or client originally had in mind. 

Adoption detectives need to retain a perspicacious mind to master the elegant art of detection, and remain ever vigilant to the potential for psychological trauma that may be caused by exposing unsuspecting and unwilling individuals. This type of information is often difficult to obtain, especially in foreign countries and cases where birth certificates and baptismal certificates were intentionally falsified; legal documents are filed as concealed records not readily available to the public without a search warrant; and when persons of interest are deceased, uncooperative, or desire not to be found. Exposure of information intentionally concealed by birth parents in closed adoptions, using records falsified by governments and churches may lead to unintended consequences and produce negative emotional outcomes for some individuals. 

The majority of clients are children who were orphaned, fostered, or adopted seeking to reunite with biological relatives. Others include parents separated from their biological children looking for reconciliation; doctors benefiting from family medical histories; attorneys dealing with inheritance or other legal matters; police detectives researching crimes involving DNA, or other confidential personal information; historians, genealogists, and social researchers; and other individuals requesting information about ancestral antecedents. 

Children who suffer from genealogical bewilderment often possess an inherent desire to learn something about their biological antecedents. They possess a desire to trace their family lineage to be enlightened about their ancestral social and cultural heritage, meet biological relatives, and discover the geographical niche from which their ancestral population originated. Knowing that the birth parents discarded the child leaves many adoptees feeling psychologically disturbed, anonymous, and unheralded. 

To help focus attention on the importance of medical family history, the United States Surgeon General launched a national public health campaign to encourage American families to learn more about their family health history. Gathering a person’s complete and accurate medical family history is extremely important because knowledge of inherited human traits has potential to save lives now that the human genome has been discovered. Many physicians perceive the medical family history as the preeminent source of information with a much higher value in diagnosis than either the physical examination or laboratory and radiography information because it is well known that many medical conditions, including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and high blood pressure all have potential to be inherited. 

Children who are orphaned, fostered or adopted, who don’t have access to medical records because their parents are unknown, deceased or uncooperative, may benefit from the comprehensive investigative skills of an adoption detective. The profession’s skill set can uncover medical information recorded in death certificates, obituaries, interviews, DNA, genealogy and ancestor websites, and old family letters. Even old family photos can provide visual clues to diseases such as obesity, skin conditions, and osteoporosis. 

The absence of ancestral information is often an unsolvable mystery for many adoptees because they do not possess the skills or knowledge needed to produce a positive outcome. These individuals may benefit from the assistance of an adoption detective, or the professional skills and advice of a qualified private investigator.


Judith Land,  Adoption Detective

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Adoption—The Extraordinary Power of Expectations

“Manage your expectations wisely because the disappointment of failed expectations can shackle us forever and make our lives and the lives of others more miserable than they ever needed to be.” Judith Land

A Bible in one hand, a bottle in the other...

“Never form expectations based on figments of your imagination and never take the advice of strangers with a Bible in one hand and a bottle in the other because when our expectations are flawed they distort our interpretations of reality to our detriment.” Judith Land

Our lives are directly influenced by our expectations. High achievers are big thinkers and visionaries known to have ambitious expectations and targets with definitive goals and objectives in mind that they would like to accomplish. High aspirations and goals are directly linked to lofty expectations. The pygmalion effect is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. The golem effect is when expectations are low and there is a corresponding decrease in performance.

Individuals on opposing sides of the adoption triangle are faced with alternatives leading to an assortment of expectations. The classic story line and expectations for the birth mother who believes her child will benefit from adoption, “My expectation is a good-hearted surrogate mother will automatically surface to take my place. She will provide my child with a better life than me, if I willingly disown my own child by vacating my role as the birth mother; resign all legal authority, and parental obligations; relinquish all personal ties, and responsibility; terminate the birthright legacy, the path to the crown and inheritance.” The adoptive mother who believes she is virtuous by nature reinforces the birth mother’s beliefs and counters, “My expectation is warm cookies and milk, lots of love and hugs, good schools, a beautiful home, a happy family, and a pleasant safe environment will help nuture ‘my’ adopted child to overcome deep-rooted psychological issues inherent to adoption, including the primal wound, separation syndrome, PTSD, and a plethora of other known afflictions unique to adoption.” Expectations for the unassuming adoptee high on self-efficacy naively believes, “If I search for my birth mother, she will warmly welcome me back into her life with open arms?”

When we use sound judgement based on common sense and apply fair and reasonable standards to our decisions we automatically assume our expectations will be achieved. In reality, expectations are purely conjecture about what the future might hold, based upon strongly held assumptions, personal experiences, and convictions. Sometimes, they are based on limited information provided to us by others in positions of authority that we sincerely trust, including parents, relatives, friends, priests and social workers—but what if their assumptions are wrong and the advice they provided us is poor, or based on false assumptions? When will we find out?

Eventually, with age comes maturity and wisdom and we finally come to the realization that expectations are not agreements between people; they are simple beliefs that a certain outcome can be realistically achieved or delivered and the events and course of action we envision will happen as expected.

Most of us believe it is a good thing to have standards established in advance and expect them to be met, but what if they aren’t? What happens when we come to the realization that our expectations will never be achieved and outcomes will not occur as planned? Expectations that rely on the performance of strangers are always at risk. In the real world, obligations are often uncertain because “others” don’t always have the energy, commitment, sense of obligation, the interest, or the talent needed to follow through to completion to make “our” life-long dreams come true. The fact that future outcomes become less certain over time is also a cold hard fact of life.

Life is a challenge—proceed with caution because expectations influence your attitude, decisions, behaviors, and perspectives, as well as your interactions with others. Form them wisely because when formulated realistically expectations contain extraordinary power to affect reality, create wealth, and improve your life.

Judith Land



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Adoption—Striving for the Brass Ring

“Striving for the ‘Brass Ring’ means aiming for a chance at success. If you are a participant in an adoption story what is your definition of affluence and a blockbuster Hollywood ending?” Judith Land

In order to encourage more riders to sit on the outer rows, someone devised the ring game and it became a common fixture of the carousel. Getting the brass ring was a special treat entitling the holder to a free ride or it could be kept as a memento and good luck charm.

The brass ring is symbolic of adulthood, triumphs and favorable outcomes. The meaning of “grabbing the brass ring” or “getting a shot at the brass ring” has evolved over time to convey striving for success and living life to the fullest; getting recognized and aspiring for the highest attainable prize.

Brass ring dispensers were developed during a period of time when carousels were popular between 1880 and 1920. Dexterous riders on the outside row of horses were given the challenge of grabbing for rings dispensed on a wooden stick for amusement and as an added incentive for enjoying the carnival ride. On the end of the dispenser there were many iron rings with no value and only one brass ring. The lucky person who received the brass ring won a prize, or it could be redeemed for another ride on the merry-go-round.

The earth is like a spinning carousel; a merry-go-round that never stops; around the sun orb it goes, never stopping, never hesitating. The cycles of life are the rhythms and routines that occur in the universe and in our daily lives, like blood flow and breathing. We have sleep and awake time and then we lay our heads down on our pillow and gently fall sleep again. All things evolve and grow as they develop; there is nothing in the lives of a little green caterpillars or small children that accurately predicts the remarkable evolutionary life changes yet to come. All the rivers of the world flow into the ocean, yet the ocean is not full. And when the water evaporates it forms clouds, the rains falls and the endless hydrological cycle continues. Clouds drift by as the sun comes up; the moon and the stars become visible as the sun disappears over the horizon and the sky turns pink and darkness blankets God’s enormous carousel. The movements of the planets and the changing seasons, the ocean tides, economic cycles and our lives continue to go around and around in a circular pattern like a band of Whirling Dervishes so filled with happiness that they stretch out both arms and start spinning in a circle.

The brass ring that I reached for was the opportunity to discover my true identity; success was defined as the chance to meet my parents and siblings and extended family and reconnect with a life that could have been. To be able to share my story and thoughts about adoption with people from 173 countries has been very rewarding and more than I ever thought I could achieve. How do you define success? What does the brass ring symbolize to you?

Judith Land



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Adoption-Children in Greenland were taken from their homes for a social experiment

“Social engineering is the use of centralized government planning in an attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behavior of a society; an act of psychological manipulation of humans associated with the social sciences.” Judith Land

Greenland has been under Danish colonial rule for nearly 300 years. Residents fear that independence would lead to a fall in living standards.

Inuit children were taken from their families in Greenland to be re-educated as model Danish citizens. Danish authorities decided the best way to modernize the island was to create a new type of Greenlander. Many parents were reluctant to give up their children but Denmark had resolved to improve living conditions in its Arctic colony where only a small percentage of the population spoke Danish. More than 60 years later, the children who were taken from their families asked the Danish government to apologize for an experiment that did enormous damage.

The children were initially placed in quarantine because it was the first time children from Greenland had arrived in Denmark. “We cried quietly; we were sad and feared for our safety. We didn’t understand the language. We were divided up and sent to live with foster families. They controlled everything. When we were returned to our families we couldn’t even speak the native language of our parents. In hindsight, we have all felt that this was wrong. We have felt a sense of loss, a lack of a true identity, and self-belief. It was a clear violation of our rights. Even in adulthood, our emotions haven’t gone away.”

Far from serving as a model for cultural change in Greenland, the children ended up as a small, rootless and marginalized group on the periphery of their own society. Several of them became alcoholics and died young. A few became homeless and others just broke down. They lost their identity and they lost their ability to speak their mother tongue and with that, they lost their sense of purpose in life.

The authorities in Greenland requested an apology from the Danish government. The Danish Red Cross formally regretted its role in the experiment. Save the Children agrees that documents detailing the organization’s involvement have disappeared and admits they could have been deliberately destroyed.

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Adoption searches are not just for young people

“Have you ever wanted to pierce the surface reflection to see what lies in the depths below? It’s never too late to solve the riddle of the labyrinth and the reasons for your birth.” Judith Land

“Studies have shown that the elderly are a happier age group than their younger counterparts. Despite the stressfulness of old age, they tend to be more agreeable and accepting.” Judith Land

I recently introduced an 87 year old women to her 91 year old sister. Neither woman knew the other person existed before being formally introduced. Warm hugs with tears of joy flowed like water during the heartwarming emotional unification experience. The father had died at a young age and the younger sister was adopted before age one. At the time of her adoption, she was issued a new birth certificate with an altered date of birth and given a new name. She was never told anything about her parents as a child, other than the fact that her father had died. She had given up any hope of ever learning anything about her parents, biological family and cultural background many years ago—a cold case that seemed utterly impossible to solve. The older sister had heard rumors about a potential sibling as a child but she knew nothing of substance.

Thanks to simplified DNA testing, open records and computers, there are more access tools available for genealogical searching than ever before. More people today are realizing the joys of searching, learning about the past, and the value of knowing something about family medical history. It has been my experience that with age comes wisdom and an ever greater degree of forgiveness.

Judith Land


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Adoption—Life as a Country Song

“Few things in life are as difficult as the heartache of being separated from someone you love. Was your home never home to you? Were you ever told, ‘Don’t criticize what you don’t understand?’” Judith Land

“Sad country songs are heartbreaking and often make us cry—my favorites being the ones that provide the type of emotion that gives us encouragement, comfort, consolation and solace.” Judith Land

Country songs tend to fan the emotions of everyday working class Americans by evoking intense feeling of love, frustration, jealousy, confusion, and all of the things on your mind that are unsettling; when there’s nothing in between and you are forced to make a choice.

Is your life sadder than a country song with a hard rain about to fall? Did you ever wake up in the morning and come home at night with nothing to say because there’s too much to think about in your life and too much to figure out?

Are your memories perfectly clear about how things never were? Perhaps, it’s because you have been living in a world described in the country songs that your mother wrote and that’s why the good times keep passing you by.

Nobody knows what triggers those crying spells, when you can’t help falling apart, and you’re dying to find a place to leave your impoverished heart. Your pockets are empty and there’s an empty bottle beside you; your heart is broken and your momma is still the only person on your mind. Life doesn’t get much sadder or lonelier than the words to a country song when the old dog dies and a hard rain is about to fall; when you need a needle and thread to sew up your broken heart; the thunder is about to roll and you’re stuck inside looking through the pane (pain) at nothing but lightning and falling rain.

Country artists come straight from America’s heartland where they sing about drinking beer and chasing women, dogs and pickup trucks, relationships, and bars and honky tonks, but country music themes also often tap into populist family values with a fresh wholesome appeal to patriotic Americans by showing support for Independence Day, red white and blue, and soldiers overseas. Country music takes its roots from folk music and blues, consisting of ballads and dance tunes with simple forms, folk lyric, and harmonies accompanied by mostly string instruments such as banjos, guitars, fiddles and harmonicas. Country music is usually vocalized, generally simple in form and harmony, and typified by romantic and melancholy ballads. The origins are the folk tales of every day working class Americans, who blended popular songs, fiddle tunes, English ballads and cowboy songs integrating rockabilly, bluegrass, country pop, honky tonk, western swing, and dance hall music; a style and genre of largely string-accompanied American popular music having roots in the Southeast and cowboy music of the West.

If you’re an adoptee, hold onto the things that you believe in. Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you. Don’t always expect a free ride. Don’t hold onto a grudge. When you get where you are going, don’t forget to turn back around and help the next child in line because nobody needs another heartache. Don’t sing about dusty trophies on the top shelf and don’t get too overwhelmed by the words of a sad country song. Create a pivotal moment in life by being humble and kind and learning to admire magnolias and horses and corn fields out on the farm. Sing songs about romantic love and commitment, warm friendship, ice cream, puppies and life changing dreams, and when the last line to that emotional country song about a lonely adoptee unfolds, don’t always expect the last line to rhyme…

Judith Land

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Adoption—Harbor Lights

“The sea inspires visions that are haunting and alluring, especially at sunset. When my adoptive father’s boat was leaving the port at dusk one moonlit evening and silver light was shimmering on the placid combers of the briny deep, I had a remarkably unexpected fantasy—a ghostly image of my first mother, like an apparition of the Virgin Mary. My eyes grew misty when I imagined her standing on the vanishing shore. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing when I saw the harbor lights departing—I longed to hold her near and kiss her once more. It‘s hard to breath when your heart yearns so much for someone behind a closed a door.” —Judith Land

Portofino is an Italian fishing village and holiday resort on the Italian Riviera. It is famous for its large number of celebrity visitors and picturesque harbor with colorfully painted buildings that line the shore.

When responsibility for a child is renounced by the parents and supplanted by others, the path to the throne is abdicated and the outcomes of each successive significant event in life become less predictable. There is no remedy; the ship has sailed without you, and there is no hope of turning it back. Adoption is an event that creates a serious disruption of a person’s beliefs about human nature and the randomness and order of the universe; an emotional occurrence with enduring consequences that adoptees have no control over, yet the outcome has profound aftereffects and significant implications to one’s values and eternal life. There is much at stake, yet no child is able to act on his or her own self-interest in any definitive way whatsoever—most are essentially powerless to alter life’s circumstances.

Life is a struggle for adoptees who feel the plight of the refugee when there is no other recourse other than to quietly endure the interminable outcomes of the pivotal events in life over which they have no command. Trauma causes us to step back and re-evaluate our deepest motivations and convictions as we pass through each phase of the human life cycle. Each chapter of our life story has its own perception of humanity and at each subsequent stage we must learn that happiness is based more on internal, controllable values and less on the externalities of the ever-changing outside world. Regardless of the life phase you are in now, it really doesn’t take a full clinical analysis to correctly identify adoption as the underlying reason for—looking, longing, wishing, hoping, and dreaming—the same shared feelings and emotions that other adoptees experience. Flowers, sunshine, comraderie, world traveling and savory food can help the soul to heal but they are not the cure.

Sentience is the capacity to be finely sensitive in perception to subjective experience. To live a happy life we must learn to take ourselves out of harm’s way, avoid temptations and ground ourselves in deeply held values. Knowing what you stand for determines your behavior, especially when the going gets tough, and the temptation is to choose the easiest path. Just remember that life is like riding a bicycle—keep moving forward to maintain your balance. If you are clear about who you are in any given situation, and steadfastly unwilling to negotiate, the songs of the Sirens aren’t so alluring.

Judith Land


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