Frequently Asked Questions

Original Birth Certificate (OBC)

As of July 1, 2014, adult adoptees born in the state of Washington may request their original (pre-adoption) birth certificate. This is now the first step an adoptee client makes. When ordering, be sure to check all three boxes at the top of the form. This will supply the case file number and county of adoption at no additional charge. See more information about OBCs.

I have my OBC. Now what?

You have several options. Some adoptees are content with having their information and leave it at that. Some want to register with a passive matching system, such as ISRR or WARM’s Reunion Registry, in case the other party searches for them. Some thrive on investigative work and will dive into searching themselves, or they know someone who will on their behalf. Some who believe they have found their relatives want WARM to confirm their findings and make discreet contact. And some want WARM’s expertise to do a complete search, including initial contact.*

*Note: WARM must comply with court-ordered confidentiality restrictions that pre-date the new OBC law. By applying with WARM, clients agree to respect these restrictions by not making initial contact with the sought-after party or allowing anyone to do so on their behalf, including posting photos or information about the sought-after party on any social website. Violation of this agreement will result in the case being closed without refund.

Why isn’t a father listed on my OBC?

This is only because the “putative” (presumed) father’s name was not required on birth certificates at that time. If the mother was unmarried, or if an adoption was expected to take place, all that was required was the mother’s information. This does not mean your biological father is unknown; he may be named in your sealed adoption file. This is something WARM could petition to view if your birth mother is deceased and cannot give you the information herself.

Who can benefit from WARM’s search services?

Any adoptee born or adopted in Washington State, or any birth family member (i.e. birth parents, siblings, grandparents) seeking an adult adoptee who was born or adopted in Washington State could use WARM’s services.

How do you see court records if they are sealed?

WARM petitions the court on behalf of the client, purchases the necessary records, and then assigns the case to one of its Confidential Intermediaries (CIs). The CI will search, locate, and contact the birth family member or adoptee to obtain a signed consent.

Has a judge ever refused to sign a court order to open the sealed file?

No, judges in all Washington counties follow the petitioning process, as described in Washington RCW 26.33.343.

Will you conduct a search for me if I only want medical history?

The reality is, the records of adult adoptees usually contain very little, if any, medical information. Plus, the information in the file is as old as the adoptee. When a birth parent is contacted, the CI will open the door to many choices of communication. It wouldn’t be fair to contact someone and say, “Just give me your medical history.”

What if research reveals the person to be contacted is deceased?

The law gives two options: (1) submitting a court order to the judge requesting the death certificate and/or original birth certificate be released, and (2) the CI will continue the search and make contact with the closest blood relative.

What happens if the person contacted refuses to have any communication?

WARM CIs are trained to obtain as much medical history as possible from the “found” person. The CI also attempts to facilitate future communications by giving WARM’s contact information, should the person change his/her mind.

What if the CI cannot find my birth relative?

WARM CIs are very persistent, and will continue to look for new ways to find the individual sought. Depending on the circumstances, WARM may submit a court order to the judge asking release of information. This decision is left to the judge’s discretion.

Does WARM have any statistics on the number of persons who cannot be found or those who refuse to be contacted?

WARM finds virtually everyone, and of those, over 90% consent to some form of contact.

What are the fees for a WARM search?

A court search for legal access to the sealed records is $400. A non-court search, when the client has documented identifying information, is $300. Clients who have completed their own search and want confirmation of their findings or who need a release of records only are charged $150. There is no charge for the reunion registry unless there is a match, then the fee is $50.*

*Policy agreements still apply.

Does WARM accept credit cards?

Yes, you may use major credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard, or Discover, as long as it is not attached to a loyalty program, i.e. “points.” Pay or donate securely through Vanco.

Does WARM give fee waivers?

No, at this time fee waivers are not available. You may make payments on a court search fee. When a minimum of $200 has been paid, the petitioning process will begin. There are no interest charges.

If WARM is a non-profit organization, why is there a fee?

All money goes to operating costs. WARM’s only sources of income are search fees and donations. Our expenses include: office rental, phone, internet, insurance, taxes, license fees, court fees, agency fees, postage, office supplies, website, publication expenses, and staff.

Can I pay or donate online?

Yes! You can make a payment (be sure to discuss with WARM office first) or give a donation of any amount, securely, through Vanco.