PAFind welcome letter for new members

Hi fellow searcher!

Hello there! Your requested subscription to the PAFind (Pennsylvania adoption mailing list) has been processed. Welcome!

Please ***save this info*** for future reference.

Our welcome letter exceeds the 2000 characters permitted by Yahoo so the info you need is now on this page.

It has two parts: Listmail Info and PA Search Guidelines and other tips you will want to refer back to.

If since you signed up you have decided you would prefer not to participate in the group or receive listmail, you can unsubscribe by sending a blank email (from the address you are subscribed at) to

and that should remove you in an hour or a few hours, depending on the speed of Yahoo's servers at the time they get your request.

You should begin receiving listmail shortly. Like any list, ours has chatty and quiet times determined by the needs of the members (and the time it takes for a message to show up in everyone's box varies a great deal). Remember that you can always switch to digest (where all the day's list mail is in one big email) and can turn your listmail on or off at our website. If you need a hand with this, let me know, but you will be looking to "edit my membership".

Mail commands for all functions are on the trailer that comes with every list message you will receive so it's always there. If you have a problem you cannot fix, I will do my best to help.

Any post pertaining to adoption is welcome here (non-adoption posts are not). I hope the list provides you with the information about legislation and searching in PA that you need. If you are here to help others, thank you for your stories, support and encouragement. You are definitely encouraged to tell others about this list because the greater the number of folks on the list, the greater our odds of finding the persons we seek, and the greater our opportunity to pull together on open records issues in Pennsylvania.


As you know, the list is basically group e-mail. If you "post" (send something to the list) everyone on the list sees it. As a member, you will receive postings of other folks on our list. You are welcome to read, discard, respond to the group or respond privately to the person who sent the posting. We used to regularly post messages called "REPOSTS" that gave info most searchers needed, but in the interest of cutting down on repetitive mail, we no longer do this. All of this info is now on a website for your use at The Pennsylvania Adoption Search Menu so please take the time to read most of the site before asking many questions on the list. You will find many answered there. You should familiarize yourself with these guidelines because it will save you a lot of time that would be spent posting more obvious questions and waiting for answers. It also helps provide us with a common vocabulary. You may want to bookmark this site.

There is also a message board for PA searches that is currently being rebuilt (the company hosting the old site went out of business, but we managed to save all the searches!) Once the new board is up and running, the URL will be posted on the above site and on our list. You'll be able to post there, and may want to bookmark it to check back and check for matches.

TOPICS & NO-SOLICITATION POLICY: Please keep all posts on topic- no out of state search posts, no jokes, chain-letters, recipes, or "NAR"- non-adoption related topics. If you see other PA searches in your web travels, feel free to forward them to the list- maybe you can help make a match. This list is for those interested in PA searching, support and legislation. On or off list, no solicitation of any kind is permissible- and this includes but is not limited to therapists, private investigators or amateur searchers looking for clients or people who offer a given task performed for a fee. Your signature or text posted may not contain a link to a for-profit/sales site. The list is a private forum and we respect one another's privacy. We do not subject listmembers to anything more or less than what they came here for. If someone ASKS for paid help, ok, but even then, the response must be private, not sent to the list. If you don't ask for paid help and get solicited by a listmember, please forward the entire post to me, including the "to and from and routing info" at the top so the offender may be unsubscribed.

HOW TO'S: If you would like to post anything adopted-related to the list, you are welcome to do so at any time. If you find a good registry, read a great adoption site, figure out how to do something search related, have a question, hit a snag- post it. Your discoveries will help others, and no one can help you if you don't ask. God willing, somebody will have an idea.

If you need a hand, you are most likely to get response if you say what it is SPECIFICALLY that you want. You are welcome to simply post your own search info, but unless people know what you have already done and where you have been and what response you got, they may not know HOW to help. Being specific can help you.

Please do introduce yourself to the group! A great way is to state who you are, whom you seek, a few details, and what you have done so far. If you are not a searcher, please tell the crew about your interest in adoption, your reunion story, or any tips you may have acquired. You are welcome to "lurk" (just read messages without posting) but I have one concern- if you are a searcher and lurk, and the person you seek is on the list and THEY lurk, then you never know the other is here! I would make a point of posting at least basic search info from time to time so new folks get a chance to see it, just in case.


Subject field: When posting to the list, please make sure the "subject" field of your letter gives a clue what is inside.

Edit for space: In the interest of saving space in everyone's mailboxes, if you reply to a post please edit the original message down a bit to just the original poster's name and e-mail address and the section(s) to which you are responding. You can do this by hitting "reply" then holding down your left mouse button and highlighting what you want to delete, then hitting "delete". This will cut out the "fat" and leave just the key part you are answering. (Sorry- this won't work for WebTV folks- follow your own editing instructions, please.)

Please bear in mind that many of our members with Hotmail, Yahoo, and other web-based email have limits on the amount of mail they can get- after they hit the max, the excess is automatically deleted against their will! In light of this, please don't send masses of information. A lengthy letter is cool- danger is when someone copies an entire registry or something like this.

No attachments or graphics: Please do not attempt to use attachments, pictures or fancy text in your mail to the list. Our list will not accept them because of the danger of passing computer viruses. Because our list does not accept attachments, you cannot get a virus from it, and need not (and should not) post virus warnings. (Viruses are not adoption-related.)


Don't be rude to your fellow listmembers by sending a mail command to the whole list. They can't help you, and if I am offline or on vacation, I can't either. You are empowered to control your own mail.

Go to the Yahoogroups web site, here and log in. Go to pafind and make adjustments there. You can change your subscription between digest and normal mode. You may want to select digest format, where all the day's postings are put into one single e-mail for you to peruse. Currently the list averages 3 to 20 posts per day. If you are on regular "individual e-mail message", you will get each individual message at the time it is posted. Some people choose "digest" when they go on vacation so they can breeze thru the mail they missed when they get back.

If you go on vacation, you can also switch to "no mail" so incoming mail will stop. When you come back, you switch to "get mail" and it will start again from that point forward (you will not get all the mail you missed while away.) If you need to leave the list on a permanent basis, you have the option of unsubscribing yourself as well.

If you have difficulty accessing the Yahoogroups website or have trouble figuring out how to do what you want, you can make changes to your subscription by mail by sending a blank email to the appropriate address:

To get further help on list mail control or to learn about how a Yahoo ID can really help you, go to here.

On the list, feel free to ask questions, vent, and celebrate bits you find as you go- we're glad to hear them! To write to all the listmembers use the address

CONTENT on PAFind is ONLY adoption-related so please skip jokes, chain letters and so forth. Most of what you get will have to do with people's searches, PA techniques and questions, and other general adoption-related items. Most of the time we don't get into other states' search issues, but if an open-records bill is pending in another state, this is something that could help us all, so calls to support that will come through our list.

If you need a hand with any list functions, feel free to write to me privately.

You should be able to adjust your mail yourself, but if you hit a snag I'll try to help. Yahoo acquired our list's distributor, eGroups, so if you don't already have a Yahoo ID you may be asked to register for one in order to access the list's website. Just follow the directions given when you go to http://www.yahoogroups.com

Then, when you are done, to protect your privacy further, go to "My Preferences" and edit the section on "Subscriptions and Views". Click the "edit" button" and then you'll see -

Group moderators cannot directly add me to their groups.
Group moderators cannot invite me to their groups.

Be sure both boxes indicate you do not want this intrusive mail. Then go to the bottom and click "Save Changes".

In search you need to take many shots- be sure to post your search info on the list soon, and say whatever you have done so far.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT/COUNSELING: It's assumed that the subscriber possesses the intelligence and stability to conduct a search for missing biological relatives and to handle any associated consequences of their search and/or reunion. We hope it's a fine one! Should you need or want more peer support, a list of known adoption groups in PA is here on the support groups page. Also, many community mental health centers offer counseling on a sliding fee scale based on income.

Anyway, up to you on how you want to use the list- for support, searching, legislation, learning, or helping others. I just hope that ultimately it gives you the help and support you need, and/or the satisfaction of helping others. No matter the result of a search, it often brings peace. Your presence here as a searcher or helper will enrich us all.

PA Search Help


In general, no matter who is looking, it is often best not to be too free with what you know with courts, agencies or attorneys about what you know or where you have gone. It is suggested that in dealing with them that you ask only for non-id first and imply you expect it to end there. Try not to imply that search is your intent. If they feel you are going to race out and hunt with the info, they may give you less. If you are dealing with your court and agency simultaneously it is generally suggested that you not tell the one that you are working with the other because if they know you are getting info from more than one source, they will be likely very cautious about what they give you. If you know names or extremely specific info it may be best not to mention that you have it, as there may be fear you will put what they give you together with what you know and find on your own. So- do what you can with whatever you get and THEN go back and ask about having them search and compare fees and personalities if you can.

The state has two types of registries. Info is at http://rombergers.tripod.com/index.html Be sure you file with the world's biggest free volunteer-run reunion registry, the International Soundex Reunion Registry at http://isrr.net and send a donation if you can.

ADOPTEES should approach their agency, attorney and the county orphan's court where their adoption was FINALIZED because any of these may offer you information on your adoption or possibly search services for a fee. Your county orphans' court of finalization is USUALLY where your ADOPTIVE folks lived when they got you but once in a blue moon it's where the agency or attorney was. This county usually has info for you and by PA law you are entitled to some info called non-id (info that won't identify anyone, and nowhere does it say it is free). See the page above for more details. It is generally accepted that with "good cause" a third party may conduct a search on your behalf but you won't get your own records- someone else will search with them. When you do approach these entities, ask about getting non-id, having a search done, and filing a waiver of confidentiality.

Long shots: Look for your own birth announcement in the appropriate local paper. Most babies slated for adoption didn't make it to press BUT if you were not adopted at birth odds are better your birth announcement may be there. Think about the oldest picture of you with your adoptive parents. Many adoptees (esp. 1950's and 60's) went to foster care for a few months before going to their final home but if you were 6 or more months or so old when your parents got you, you might want to check. Also- once in a while your birthname will appear on your adoption decree, which your parents may have received after they got you at the finalization hearing (and stashed in the safe deposit box most likely).

BIRTHPARENTS should also trace back thru agency and attorney as well. PA law does NOT entitle you to anything BUT you may still get it from compassionate professionals. Definitely ask to file a waiver of confidentiality with your agency, attorney, and county orphan's court where the adoption was finalized. The court will always accept it and the others may do so. A sample waiver is on the above site, but ask if your county and agency has a waiver form that they would prefer you to use.

The county court of finalization is NOT where you relinquished your child. It is the county orphan's court in which the ADOPTIVE parents adopted your child thus, you may not know what county this is. Write to the Bureau of Vital Records in New Castle PA and give info on your name at the time, the date of birth, the child's name if any, place of birth and then state "I want to file a waiver of confidentiality in the appropriate county of finalization, so please advise me what county this is."

Filing a waiver with the finalization court is the single biggest thing you can do as a birthparent. I have talked with court intermediaries and they are frustrated because they have many inquiries from adoptees but can not make a match if they don't know the birthparent wants to be found. If your "child" comes looking you will likely be given an instant match if you have done this. This waiver basically says "I don't want to be held confidential if my child comes looking for me- give them my contact info." Once you know the county of finalization you can ask that Orphan's Court how you may file a waiver. It also lets you know where your offspring went to so you have an area to focus your search.

You can try asking for search and non-id as well but no law says they have to help you since you relinquished rights. The agency is likely to be more helpful than the county in giving you non-id but you still want to get your waiver in there. Some agencies will do a search for a fee for birthparents, and more will actually provide non-id. And you want to get a waiver in there too.

SIBLINGS have no recognized legal rights in PA so it REALLY helps if you have the cooperation of one of the birthparents. Some sibs have had luck in working with former agencies and attorneys or by running personal ads in the paper if they know where the sib went to.

Just a thought- if you don't think you'll get active birthparent cooperation- if you can get everything together for the birthparent to sign on the spot as you stand there and either present it yourself or have a relative do it, it might be better than just NOT doing anything or expecting the birthparent to get the motivation to do it themselves. I am not suggesting you do something against their will, but am recognizing that sometimes uncertainty produces procrastination. You could get the forms for the 2 state registries. You could also produce a nicely typed letter to the Bureau of Vital Stats for their signature so you can confirm the county of finalization- and then you could have a waiver ready for them to sign to be mailed to the county's orphan's court. All this is above in the section for birthparents.

BIRTHPARENTS, SIBS, AND ADOPTEES should all read and use the PA Adoption Message Board when it is up and running again. We had a site with thousands of searches that recently had to come down when the host company closed. All the searches were saved and will be placed back on the web when a new host site has been picked. When a new site has been selected and made, a notice will appear on the PAFind mailing list and on the main PA Search Menu above at http://rombergers.tripod.com/main.html

IF YOU HAVE A NAME TO SEARCH WITH you may want to find likely relatives and write a discreet genealogy letter to them. You can compose a list of potential people by using The Ultimates (white pages) and then write a letter by using ideas from this page.

If you know names of ancestors, know a date of death or birth for one likely to be deceased, you may want to use the Social Security Death Index (also called the SSDI- one is available at www.ancestry.com/ssdi ). It lists many (but not all) deceased people in the US since 1937, and theoretically covers those whose family members reported their deaths to the Social Security Administration, or applied for death benefits for them. You may be able to find someone here with very little information. I have found people on it with just a funny first name and a county- a birthmom's mother- and then the searching adoptee got a copy of the obituary from the local public library, got the names of her children (among whom was her birth mom, with her new married name listed), and then found her. Some people with a name go to the county and have a marriage license search done (usually a small fee) with a last name for genealogy.

SUPPORT GROUPS in PA are listed at http://members.tripod.com/rombergers/support.html or click here for the support groups page. All these volunteers know their areas well so even if you cannot join their groups you should consider asking for help or ideas.

Search is a trip! Mine took 2 and 1/2 years and the ending wasn't completely storybook, but I would not trade the answers I got. There's been over 100 reunions this past year on our list and I hope we can help you get answers too. And make yourself a promise now to pay the only dues we could ever ask- hang around a while and help the next guy! Thanks again for a being a part of PAFind.

Best wishes-

Sue reunited adoptee, 1980

REMEMBER: Please act now- PA currently is in the process of considering new adoption legislation and it needs amending. Please read this page on Senate Bill 859 and use it to send a note to the legislators on the judiciary committee - You probably joined this list to work on a search- fixing the law would be a smart thing to do!

Pennsylvania Adoption Search and Education Links


PAFind EMAIL LIST - a FREE e-mail list of PA searchers helping one another.

STATE REGISTRIES AND POLITICS - Why neither are helping PA searchers much.

RELINQUISHMENT PAPERS - Like to see an example of PA relinquishment papers?

YOUR OLD AGENCY - Backtrack here for possible help in search.

COUNTY OF FINALIZATION - Some county specific info. You need to find this out and it may not be where you think.

THE DECREE - Adoptee is adopted in the county of finalization, records now sealed. Want to see a decree?

FORMAL PETITION - Learn how some counties make it a bit harder.

NON-ID - Learn what it is, and how to ask for it.


ADOPTION GROUPS - known in PA that handle search, support, legislation or all three.

SEARCH BASICS - In addition to this whole menu, here's a list of ways to search and try to be found.

PHONE CALL AND LETTER IDEAS - When you are close to making that respectful first contact.

SEARCH SUCKS! I NEED A *@$#! BREAK! - Take one, pal.

HIRING A SEARCHER OR PI? - Caveat emptor! Read some parameters and cautions.

THE UNIFORM ADOPTION ACT or UAA - Learn more about "The Evil Act". Coming to PA or your state?

CITY PAPER - Coverage of adoption search, law and the UAA in PA.

PERSONAL ESSAY - on adoption with info for all sides of the triad.

REGISTRIES AND GENERAL (NON-PA) ADOPTION STUFF - links to varied good places.

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This page has been visited times since it was moved here September 15, 2002.

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