“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 They conduct searches of public and private records, research historical documents, and interview persons of interest for the purpose of uncovering genealogical information linking biologically related individuals, persons related by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
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