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Why do Professional Birth Parent Searchers Charge a Fee?

Here at, we get asked a lot about our pricing and fee structure, and why we charge for our search and re-unification services.

The answer is quite simple, this work can be labor and cost intensive. When you hire a team to find your birth family, we can be tasked with ordering records, or recouping costs on record sets we’ve already purchased. We also have a team of incredible genetic genealogists, that work with your DNA results to build family trees and discover your biological roots. This work is labor-intensive and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months, rarely but occasionally, to years.

While there are some people who feel it’s morally reprehensible to charge someone to find family members, this doesn’t make a lot of sense logically. You could also say it’s reprehensible for lawyers and doctors to charge a fee, but we all need to make a living and be able to put food on the table for our families.

Many of our clients realize that our work on every case is unique, and no search is “simple.” They may have non-identifying information, they may have a surname based off a birth index, or they may have DNA results. All of these are helpful steps in finding your birth family, but are not the golden answer. Our researchers spend hours combing records, public indexes, using record sets purchased for a very high cost, building family trees, reaching out to family members for information, all of which takes time. We believe in compensating our contractors for their time, something that requires us as a company to charge our flat rate search fee.

These searches can take us nationwide, and occasionally internationally. Some states have a myriad of public records that are accessible, some do not. Each state has an option to make their records publicly available. For example, New York original birth records are available, but California original birth records are not.

Our adoption searchers regularly network with what we call ‘’Contacts.” Many searchers bought various records when they were made available for sale by individual states. These records are costly. In most cases it will take many years to recoup the cost of these records, and in many cases, we have to pay others for information on a per-case basis. When you hire a search firm like ours, we have a set fee that enables us to pay for the information we don’t have on hand and to recoup the cost of the information we’ve paid hundreds, sometimes thousands for. Information that most do not have access to.

There are search angels that help people for free, and we applaud those who do it. However, sometimes they just cannot complete a search based on their lack of resources. Many search angels will charge expenses only and go to a searcher that holds the information they need, pay a nominal fee, and help their client. Sometimes these searches are easy, and little is spent, other times the search becomes costly.

We also handle some of the most difficult cases, when a surname is common. We had a case recently with the last name Brooks. There was DNA information on file, but we could find no links to a “Brooks” family from the location the non-ID stated. It took us hours upon hours to verify information for Brooks families that lived in the state named on the non-ID and follow them down to the state of birth. In a matter of many months (after spending a lot of time and incurring costs), we were able to complete this task and identify the birth mother.

In these cases, you may not get the dedication on your case with a search angel that you would get with a company that charges a fee. There have been many times we have quoted a search fee and had a potential client try an angel, or search on their own, only to come back to us after spending a lot of time and money.

Another aspect that’s important to these searches is medical information. Back in the day, medical information was not provided for biological families of children that were placed for adoption. Due to HIPAA laws, it’s not as simple as ordering records, it requires a conversation. Something our searchers are skilled at doing – even in the face of non-reunification. We make those difficult calls for you, as a liaison between you and your biological family.

At the end of the day, your search is yours. Try every angle in your search to complete it in the cheapest way possible. You can do this by researching the state you were born in to see what options are available for you, see what searchers in your area charge, find what angels are available for your state and what they can do for you. Find what is palatable to you, but please try and refrain from developing derogatory opinions about professional searchers that do charge.

Most of us agree that you shouldn’t have to pay for your identity or the identity of your family, but that argument should be taken up with those who make the rules on privacy records and adoptions. In a perfect world, you would simply get your original birth certificate and have enough information to complete your search with minimal expense

All that being said, while does charge a search fee, we also like to give back to the community. We take on pro bono work on a case by case basis, as well as provide AncestryDNA kits to those that cannot afford to or haven’t tested. We also engage in giveaways during larger holidays, offering our services at a discount or completely free. Since our inception, we’ve worked over 100 of these pro bono cases and have successfully re-united those families.

We understand that not everyone can afford these searches and our services, but this is our way of giving back, while still being able to operate as a unique company.

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