The search by an adopted child or a birth parent for their closest blood relative; one they have never really known, is a sacred journey. It is however, one not to be entered into lightly. It is often, as well, a long process; sometimes without a happy ending, or even an ending at all. Any company that demands huge fees in advance and states that they will be successful is not being truthful. There simply are no guarantees.

That being said, these are my most preferred cases. I have experienced the joy of contacting a birth parent or adoptee and telling them I have just found their mother or their daughter. It has been unbelievable. But I have also made contact with some who want nothing to do with the child or parent. However the strong percentage in these cases is with a happy reunion. 

But, as stated above, the search can sometimes be dead end after dead end.

The way I handle these cases is to confer with the client thoroughly, first to make them aware of the potential bad outcome as well as good. And also to evaluate whether they are in the right frame of mind to handle the outcomes and what might result. It is possible that the other party may be deceased, sick, incarcerated, mentally unstable, etc. We just can't see into that crystal ball. I help the client to first accumulate all possible information to help begin the search. When that is complete, I will give them as honest as evaluation as possible as to what the process is going to be and our chances for success. As far as a fee, my philosophy is to take it one step at a time, rather than ask for some huge retainer amount up front. We may get a few weeks into the process and realize that it's going to be harder than we thought. Or possibly, we may find them relatively quickly. So, I feel that it's neither realistic nor fair to demand a large initial retainer to "handle the whole case," as some search companies do.

If successful in our search, we do insist on attempting indirect contact (initially). That means that, upon finding the person, that we will call them, or sometimes better if possible, pass on a sealed letter from the client to them telling them their feelings and their desire for contact of some kind. If the subject refuses contact, the question becomes, "Does a child have the right to know who their parent is? That is a key question, and one to which I believe the answer is "YES".
But it must be handled delicately. I believe I have developed a sensitivity to the "triad" members (the adoptee, the birth parent, the adoptive parent) and am somewhat capable of being understanding of all.

A few years back, I was able to help out the producers of an A&E show about several victims of exposure to the "toxic dust" while working at the 9/11 ground zero site. One of the victims needed a bone marrow donor, but was adopted and now in his 50s. Within a week, I had located and talked to his father. They are now in constant contact, as well as his "new" extended family, and he now had the potential life-saving donors .