David Diener, founder of BirthQuest, gets 100 new registrations a day for his adoption reunion registry. The registry, which is 2 years old, had 12,000 registrations the first year and 251 finds. In the second year, registrations doubled (the number of finds isn't tabulated).
"I saw there was an obvious need for this. I had no idea it would grow into something so immense," said the Baltimore computer programmer who runs BirthQuest in his spare time. He's an adoptee still searching for his birth parents.
"State law says records are sealed, but everyone wants to be found. Everyone wants contact. Everyone wants closure in one way or another."
The Internet is a marvelous tool for adoption reunion searchers, says Jean Strauss, author of Birthright: The Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birthparents and Adoptive Parents.
But searchers still need details from the birth certificate to be successful. The stumbling block is that many adoptees' birth certificates were altered at the time of adoption.
It's possible to find adoptees and birth parents without the Internet, Ms. Strass said, but the Internet cuts down on search time. It took about four months from the time Susan Anthony posted an inquiry on the Internet until Kristin Delfield found it and responded. Other methods take years.
"Now, people find people in a day," said Ms. Strauss, who spent five years searching for her birth mother in the 1980s. The downside of short searches, she said, is people have little time to analyze their feelings and prepare themselves for the reunion.
The number of adoptees looking for their relatives is estimated at 15 percent. But some say the figure is much higher, and that the Internet could further increase the number of searchers because of the access it provides to millions.