Birth Family Search With the U.S. Census

Birth family are the people you’re biologically related to — mom, dad, siblings and children. The link for adoptees and birth mothers and fathers is usually severed soon after birth. How can the U.S. Census help these relatives find each other?

Even though the census is available through 1940, only, your relatives are likely here. It can lead to finding the identity of a birth parent and locating her. You were born in 1970 or 1980, which seems like a long distance from 1940. But the adoption record prepared by the social worker who interviewed the biological mother at the time she was pregnant may have valuable biographical details on the adoptee’s grandparents, who were likely living at the time that the Census worker interviewed them. The record provided to the adoptee by the adoption agency is redacted. Unless, through oversight or kind consideration the agency does not remove the names. I’ve reviewed lots of “non identifying personal information” reports, “non ID,” for short. The extensiveness and accuracy will vary, but often the content will be essential for pinpointing the right family.

Find Birth Family Census

Knowing where the birth mother or grandparents were born or lived may direct us to the particular state that they lived in at the time of the Census. Then if we know the age of the grandparent, the number and ages of her siblings or their ages at death, we can refine our search.

When you look at the Census image, note the type of work for household members to see if it corresponds to the non ID report. The 1920, 1930 and 1940 Census’ may not show the same type of employment. Baker, chauffeur, veterinary surgeon. That was one person in three different years. Either he had many skills or somewhere the facts got adjusted. Don’t get too attached. Records often hold hints, even when they’re not precise.

And note which person in the house the Census worker spoke to.
No wonder the age was off by 3 years. The informant in the household on the 1940 Census was a 12 year old.

census informant

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