Adoption and Finding Relatives Through Social Media

Social Media is great for a number of things. Keeping up with family and friends, posting cute pet pictures, sharing hobbies with people just like yourself.

There are endless reasons to use social media which can also include genealogy, ancestry and family history that could include finding lost or adopted relatives.

Here is a real story of a person who used social media as a tool to locate her biological family.

Suzanne Elliott was put up for adoption just after her birth. Her parents were young and her mother had no choice. She always knew she was adopted as her adopted parents were always very open about the situation and had two other adopted sons.

Suzanne located her biological brother, Derek Davis, in 2016 after Ohio, the state she was born in, opened adoption records using Facebook.

I recently interviewed them about their experience and this is what they had to say.

  1. How find you find each other?
    Derek – Interestingly enough my sister found me through Facebook, but that was after she was tipped off from another relative she found first. She was able to start piecing things together after Ohio opened up their adoption records a couple years ago! We are technically half-siblings (father’s side). The family backstory is kind of an interesting one with an unconventional twist (as I also had her birth mother as a step-parent, and shared her other half-siblings as stepsisters for a few years… this was way before I even knew she existed).
    Suzanne –My bio parents had me when they were very young and my bio-mom was forced to put me up for adoption. They both moved on, married and had 2 more children each. They reunited when their marriages didn’t last and married each other, so all 4 of my half-siblings became step-siblings for a few years. They eventually divorced and moved on.
  2. Have you met each other?
    Derek –
    We’ve met once in person last July, but have been in steady contact with each other since. We text a lot. I’m currently trying to plan a trip to Kansas to visit my sister. She was put up for adoption at birth and we were reunited about a year ago. So I am trying to get down there to visit her family at the moment.
  3. Do you both plan on doing a genealogy DNA test?
    We are both planning on doing a DNA test this year, so the results should be interesting.

    1. If so, do you have a company preference? MyHeritage, AncestryDNA, 23andMe, other?
      Suzanne – My son and I both did a DNA test through AncestryDNA earlier this year.
      Derek – I’m planning on taking the DNA test from 23andMe this year, as I’m interested in their particular results, especially the health report in addition to the Ancestry service.

Questions for Derek

  1. Were you surprised to find out you had an adopted sister?
    At the time I knew she was out there somewhere but was taken off guard when she finally did make contact. I had always hoped the day would come but as the years went by I wasn’t holding out much hope.
  2. What was your initial reaction?
    Complete shock, it weighed heavily on my mind all through adulthood. When she finally found us I had a lot of different emotions running through me, relief, anxious, excitement!
  3. How do/did you think your other family members would react to this news?
    Overall I expected them to react positively and with open arms. For the most part, the experience seemed to live up to the expectations I had.
  4. Did you remember anyone “slipping” when you were younger that could’ve tipped you off that you had an adopted sibling?
    It wasn’t necessarily slipped, or at least that I can recall. I guess it was a well-kept secret until the timing was right. However, my mother had told me during my very late teens… as she thought that one day that my sister would come searching for our father. At the time I had zero inclinations that I had another sibling out there somewhere.

Questions for Suzanne

  1. How long did you know you were adopted?
    My adoptive parents have always been open and honest about the fact that I am adopted. They have never tried to keep it a secret. I’m very grateful for that!

    1. Were you surprised by this information?
      I grew up knowing, so it’s always just been part of my story, part of who I am.
  2. How does your adopted parents/family feel about your finding your biological family?
    They have been amazingly understanding and very supportive!

    1. Were they open with whatever information they had?
      My adoption was closed, so I wasn’t able to find any information until 2015 when Ohio opened their adoption records. The social
      worker for my case gave my adoptive parents a letter with just a little bit family health history. This was the only information they had. They gave the letter to me on my 19th birthday.
    2. Did they offer to help?
      Yes, my adoptive mom has always been willing to help in any way
      she could.
  3. Did you have siblings in your adopted family that didn’t know you were adopted?
    No, my adoptive parents were never able to have their own biological children. They adopted two
    boys before me, and they are actually biological brothers to each other.)
  4. Have you met your biological father?
    Yes, I did meet him last July. It was a very nice visit and went much better than anticipated.
  5. Would you encourage other adoptees to seek out their biological family?
    I think it varies case by case. Based on my case alone, I say most definitely, but I know how blessed and lucky I am to have such a positive outcome with my experience.

    1. Why or why not?
      It really depends on the emotional state of the individual, and the reasons they want to search.
  6. What advice would you offer them?
    You need to fully accept the fact that you may not get the answers and/or response you are hoping for. Go into it with a completely open mind, and motivated by curiosity more than a need for affection or answers. Be sure you are in a good place emotionally before you start searching, and be ready for ANY outcome! There are so many circumstances why children are placed for adoption, and many more reasons why the biological parents may not want to be found. It has a profound impact on everyone involved, so be willing to accept their wishes.
  7. Anything else you’d like to add?
    I’m so very blessed to have been welcomed with open arms by everyone in my biological family. It’s been such an incredible journey, and I wish every adoptee/biological parent all the best in their search!!

About Derek

Derek is 37 years old, originally from Covington, Ohio but is currently living in Detroit Michigan where is he a web developer for Schneider Electric.

About Suzanne

Suzanne is 39 years old, born in Ohio but adopted and raised by a family in Kansas where she currently lives and works in a medical office. She is married with an 11-year-old son.