Adoption Tracing for Biological Mother and Father in Thailand
We have done more than 100 adoption tracing cases since 2003, largely based on personal referrals of previous adoptive parents and adoptees. This started with our company's Thai-English translation division when we were translating many documents for an adoption agency, and they subsequently inquired about our ability to trace biological parents, aka birth mother and/or birth father. Since then, we have gained many, many years of experience and developed best practices of not only finding but also facilitating contact with birth parents, including taking adoptees to visit biological parents and serving as interpreter/translator.
We help both adoptees and adoptive parents to find the Thai birth Thai mother and optionally biological father in Thailand, and try to also engage the extended family.
Adoptive parents will someday be asked questions by their adopted children who feel a need to know about their origins.
In many cases, it becomes increasingly difficult over time to trace birth parents, so that if a tracing is ever to be done, then it is better for tracing to begin sooner than later.
The scope of the search can be just assessing whether finding the biological family would feasible (i.e., based on the information you have, what are the chances of finding either of the biological parents or their extended family?), or finding out *about* them without actually contacting them, or, most commonly, finding and trying to engage the birth mother and/or biological father. This can be done either by a discreet investigation of the biological family, or by contacting the birth mother and/or father by our special methods and finding out more information. Photos and videos of the biological mother and father can be a picture worth a thousand words to the child. Our research can find out the rest of the story and family history, including the circumstances around which the child was transferred into adoption, whether the child has any brothers and sisters, and other things which you may wish to know.
For free, at no cost and no obligation, we can review your documentation. Actually, we need to see this first in order to determine the feasibility of tracing a biological parent, to decide whether or not we will accept the case (e.g., if it looks unlikely to succeed, such as an old birth certificate with only the mother's first name), and if we accept it, then the cost, which depends upon the amount of information available.
For example, if a birth certificate has the biological mother's full name and ID number (13 digits) then we can normally find this person and the cost is lower. However, if the birth certificate has incomplete information, then it might cost more to find the biological parents. (Notably, Thai ID numbers did not start getting assigned until 1984, around the starting time of widespread computerization in Thailand, and it took years to roll them out upcountry, when people renewed their old style ID cards.) We have found many birth mothers based on incomplete or erroneous information, including many cases when government officers reported that they did not find the birth mother.
In adoption tracing cases, the most common backgrounds of birth mothers include poverty, abandonment by the biological father, migratory worker out of town and needing to work whereby they cannot raise a child well so they leave the child to the care of the state, teenage or university student accidental pregnancy, and birth outside of marriage whereby they try to keep the child a secret from their community and sometimes their parents and family.
In many cases, when the government officers did visit a residence before a child was placed into adoption, they were unable to get information, we guess maybe stonewalled by uncooperative people. In some cases, the government officers may have assessed it was not in the best interests of the child to try to continue anyway. We've usually had good experiences visiting birth mothers, by being dressed informally rather than in uniform, as appropriate for the particular community (you may be able to imagine the reaction of the community and a family when uniformed government officers show up...), being friendly and engaging, and having a cover story ready in case the birth mother or family wishes to keep things secret from the community at the time (very common). We have a particular methodology.
When you engage a private investigator, you have somebody focused on your case and perseverant. You are not just another case being passed around bureaucracies such as sent upcountry to the local police station which may be overworked and understaffed anyway, and unskilled in handling this kind of sensitive case.
Once we engage the birth mother and establish rapport, we can try to facilitate direct communications between the adoptee and the biological mother. We can also help with translation, especially in the early stage of an engagement, though you can do things independently from that point on if you wish and we can suggest good Thai-English communications methods.
In many cases, we find the birth mother first and get her story before we visit the birth father, but sometimes they are actually together or the father is nearby.
We offer different options to you, whereby you may choose how you would prefer we proceed.
If you decide to come to Thailand to visit them, then we can drive you there if you wish, be interpreter/translator, and advise you on things such as Thai customs as well as discuss things you may observe.
The Biological Birth Parents' Needs - Our Approach
To the birth parents in Thailand, adoption is usually a sensitive issue, at least initially. In many cases, nobody else in their family or community knows about the child given up for adoption except the birth mother and usually the father, so that we must be careful to maintain a secret and reveal our intentions only to the biological mother and/or father.
The initial contact must be done as considerately as possible in order to get the most cooperative response we can. First impressions are important, as well as having a socially skilled Thai lady agent engage well in person, face to face, with nice photos of the adoptee.
Notably, in many cases, the birth parents are greatly relieved of much guilt when they find that their child was adopted into a loving family and has a good life, not living in an orphanage without a mother and father. However, there are quite a variety of responses which we have experienced. The initial response is often shock but with proper handling they usually later want to know more, and we strive to start an engagement and correspondence part. Matters of adoption sometimes need time.
We always assure the birth parents from the very beginning that:
- we do not want to cause any problems, only to help people
- we will keep this a secret between us and them, and nobody else in their community, unless they say otherwise is OK
- nobody wants anything from them except information which the child would want to know when the child grows up
In the best case scenario, the biological parent(s) realizes they are not in any trouble (and of course we are not government officials) and becomes interested in finding out about their child, and eventually in even meeting them. In many cases, the biological mother and often her family have been much more enthusiastic than the adoptee!
In the worst case scenario, we can also assure the biological parent(s) that we can secure any secrets, and if they wish then we will do our best to stop the adopted child from coming to find their biological parents and just knocking on the door and saying "Hi, I'm your child ..." or something like that, if that's what the biological parent(s) want. This is important to gain their cooperation in the worst cases. If so, then we make clear that we can manage the situation if we can satisfy the child's needs by providing the desired information. If they don't cooperate, then the child may seek to find them later on their own, and if we could find them, then others could, too. Therefore, it is better for them to provide the needed information and let us control the situation instead of walk away and let someone else return later, someone else who is less understanding of their situation. That's the worst case scenario where we find the parents.
There are many cases in-between these extremes.
There have been various kinds of adoption cases. Searches which include interaction with the biological parent(s) have evolved differently, but they all start with an initial reaction and after some time become a stable position after the biological parent has assimilated the situation. It usually takes considerable time for the biological parents to adjust and develop a stable outlook, and our agent's accomodation, reassurance, and guidance can make a major difference.
We use friendly, warm and mature Thai female investigators of class who are experienced in handling different kinds of people.
First, we must find one or both parents, which is usually done by national database searches and/or field work based on the information provided to us by the adoptive parents or adoptee.
Once we find a biological parent, we might do some discreet research, which in some cases may include interaction with a common pretext such as a salesperson (which would use an agent who they never see again, well in advance of any further contact). Eventually, we isolate the biological parent whereby we can interact privately so that we keep the secret and nobody overhears us. At that time, we show them one or more nice photos of the child and ask if they know anything about the child, not saying that this is their child at first. Then after some warmth is created, we explain that the child has a wonderful life overseas after the child was adopted by foreign people from an orphanage in Thailand, but wants to find out about their biological mother and father. By then, the biological parent usually realizes what this is all about without us having to tell them what we are there for. Sometimes, we mention some details to get over their denial, in a most understanding way. In any case, we begin the promise assuring secrecy immediately, to make them most comfortable in staying engaged with us.
Whether the adoptee is ever able to meet their biological parents and possibly their greater family (siblings, grandparents, etc.) depends on the situation of the biological parents and agreements we can work out. This in turn might depend significantly upon how the biological parents are approached and eventually interacted with by our Thai lady agent.
We actually don't tell them we are private investigators, and they normally don't ask. Before we have even visited, I or we normally become friends with our client, so we can just say that if/when asked. Actually, we have stayed in contact with many adoptees and adoptive families over many years. Our Thai lady agents who do this work are our longtime private investigators with many years of experience at this. We try to establish warm rapport with the birth mother, being compassionate, listening to them, and discussing things.
Thailand has different regions with different language dialects and mannerisms, and country people are significantly different from city people, so our agents must adapt to the region and the class of the biological parents. From researching each person, including the birthplace environment and current residency ambiance, we can adapt our approach by choosing the best agent.
The Adopted Person's Needs
As adopted persons mature into adulthood, and as their cognitive abilities develop, most will feel compelled to search for their roots.
This is usually not at all a rejection of the adoptive family, and can actually make the adopted person feel more fortunate and grateful for the adoption process and loving adoptive family over time. In fact, this is the most common end result when the adoptive person comes and sees what their life would have been like if they weren't adopted, based on the current existence of their biological family. "Wow, I'm lucky to have grown up in the [UK/US/Australia/etc.] and to have parents like you!"
Whatever imagination and fantasies the adoptee had in advance, dealing with the reality can clarify the exact situation, and then things can move forward.
The adopted person, in wanting to find out about their biological parents, can be driven by curiosity, a quest for wholeness (part of their identity), closure, fantasy, or even anger towards biological or adoptive parents. The feelings and reasons vary from person to person. Sometimes, the threshold is reached for beginning the research about the biological parents after an intense event. In many cases, the adopted individual must make a journey backwards before moving forward emotionally and getting a grip on the reality.
The urge can spike quickly at significant moments in their lives like birthdays, marriage, pregnancy, or illness (especially if genetically predisposed), or due to an intense social event, or just at certain stages of their development.
Secrecy and denial can be counterproductive in a relationship between adoptive parents and an adopted child, and trust and confidence can be eroded. It is usually best to be supportive and try to help, guide, and advise the adopted person -- honestly in a most careful way.
Because the adopted person is different from the mainstream race they grew up with, it is usually important for them to gain an understanding of their ethnic origins. They can take pride in their Thai origin, and should carry this as in a positive light rather than a negative darkness. This requires learning about Thai culture and history, or in the case of many adoptees, Khmer (Cambodian) or Lao (Laos) culture. All of these areas had written language before English was written in England (romanized A-z).
Coverage of the history of Siam is beyond the scope of this web page. Nonetheless, suffice it to say that we should give the adopted child a sense of pride in their origin, based on the history of the Thailand. We also often give more information on the history of the particular area(s) of the birth parent(s), as different parts of Thailand have varying histories. In addition to my Thai staff (one of which was a former school teacher), and having lived here myself for 26 years and having traveled and read extensively as a scientist, we know a lot of details of many regions. I originally came here because of my work with the US government (the Asia Regional Office is in Bangkok) whereby I have a lot of experience analyzing cultures and localities.
A visit to Thailand is recommended. Thai people are known to be most hospitable, and the country was nicknamed by foreigners "The Land of Smiles".
A visit to the orphanage can reassure the adopted person that they were loved. Often, there were others in the extended family, community or hospital who cared for them when they could. In some cases, one or both of the biological parents tried to care for them.
Adoption is common in Thailand by Thai communities. It is remarkable how many Thais we know who have been raised by people other than their biological parents. The Thai government's civil servants, while quite proper, are also understandable, and rules are bent according to circumstances. Thailand is not a strict country like many in the west. It is known for being polite and proper, but peaceful compromise is valued over making problems.
It is notable that in Thai customs, the Thai word for "sister" or "brother" or "mother" of "father" is commonly used for close friends and non-biological "family" members. This is often a source of confusion to foreigners who get intimately associated with Thai people.
Nevertheless, there are often situations where parents give up a child for adoption. These usually occur far outside their community, e.g., migrant workers who simply do not have the family support, individual financial ability, or current lifestyle to support a child. In many cases, the child is abandoned at the hospital or a public place.
Often the child wants to know why their parents gave them up for adoption, and we should come up with an answer as best we can. You can also explain to the child why you chose to adopt a child.
Very often, the adult adoptee wishes to convey and reassure the biological mother that the adoptee could understand their hardships in life, and would like them to know that they had a loving adoptive family and thank them for the decision to place them into adoption. Sometimes, they also wish to seek out and thank the social workers who facilitated the adoption process. Visits to the two orphanages in the Bangkok metro region, the Phayatai and Pakkret (romanized spelling varies) childrens homes, reveal remarkably loving environments. There are a few other orphanages in the provinces, which are also nice to visit. In Thailand, the orphanages are highly hospitable, like the Thai people.
Thai civil servants and social workers often go to exceptional efforts to do the right and best thing for a child, and this is often undocumented, to say the least. The official documentation usually states just the basics required to make the child officially available for adoption.
Thai culture is one of the most hospitable in the world, and many Thai people go to help at these places as volunteers, and donate things.
Any adoptee who visits Thailand should visit their orphanage as well as the regions of their biological parents.
Notably, our office is also in Pakkret, near the Pakkret Babies/Childrens Home (the largest orphanage in Thailand).
Adoption Documentation and Analysis
Thailand Private Investigations has a sister company which does Thai English translation
In the translation side of our work, we have provided official certified translations of Thai documents for Thai children being placed into the intercountry adoption process, and have occasionally interacted with civil servants, social workers, and NGOs in this process. (Of course, adoption documentation is not their specialization, but adoption documentation has been requested of us by foreign adoption agencies, from case history to medical translation, in addition to our investigations into biological parents on behalf of adoptive parents later and entirely unlinked and independently.)
The Thai government documentation is usually fairly good, and reflects a longstanding civil service in Thailand. Many of the social workers in Thailand are exemplary. However, being human and overworked bureaucrats as they are, we sometimes come across oversights, errors, lack of insight, and plain lack of diligence by government workers who are often understaffed and overworked as regards finding birth parents when a child is abandoned. However, the whole story might not have been documented.
We have solved some cases which some Thai government officials, NGOs, and other officials could not, though we may have a different mandate to do so, for the sake of the adoptee as discussed above, with more motivation.
It is a common policy to not assist an adoptee or their adopting family to find the biological parents for 10 years or more, but then the trail may have gone cold.
Occasionally, we don't have the full name of a birth parent, but we have other clues to track them, such as a location, where we might find a biological mother or father, or a witness with a lead. The mother might know the father only by a nickname and where he rented or worked, but he could move on. A mother may have arrived at a hospital in labor and soon thereafter departed without giving complete documentation, or may be an illegal immigrant who needs to avoid arrest but may still be around, whereby we can go to the hospital and try to find the people who actually handled the mother and get information from them, as long as they are still working there ... and as best they can remember ... Or we might have an address to follow up on, which could be a rental address and might have had paperwork (which can be discarded after 5 years) or a witness with a lead ... There are sometimes good reasons it may be much better to follow up sooner rather than later.
We also do DNA testing, or can collect DNA samples to send to you so that you can test independently and collect your own DNA sample.
You should not give up hope based almost solely on the advice of officials. While their advice may be well based and prove to be true, on the other hand it is a fact there are many cases in which we proved them wrong and it wasn't really that difficult to find the birth parent(s). Other times, it was difficult for us to find the biological parents and understandably beyond the resources available to the civil servants, especially given the rest of their workload, so that a personalized service by a professional private investigator was what was needed.
For whatever the reason could have been for the Thai officials to make the child available for adoption, we have normally found that clearly was for the best interests of the child. There are some very bad socioeconomic situations in Thailand for a child to be born into, as well as bad environments and scattered, dysfunctional extended families. The adoptee can only thank Goodness that they were able to become legally available for adoption, and we can see only good intentions by the officials, compared to either returning the child into a desperately poor or unstable or dangerous developmental environment, or left at the orphanage for an indefinite time.
Indeed, some of the documentation that goes with the child might say that the government already performed an exhaustive search but could not find the parents or extended family in the citizens database, put advertisements in the mass media in vain, and so forth. Yet, we found the birth parent(s). In some cases, the "Background of the Child to be Adopted" states that the family situation was exceptionally bad in some way so that they resolutely put the child into an orphanage even though they found the biological family. Important: This is all necessary paperwork in order to complete the process to make the child legally available for adoption.
The Thai government is very good at getting children into the care of extended families if the biological mother and father are unwilling or unable to take care of the child. The Thai civil service is very well intentioned and upright. There is no significant corruption in the official adoption process, and it is strict. This is quite different from places like Cambodia, Guatemala, China, and some other places, as well as the distant past where things were not so well under control in Thailand. The Thai government clamped down on private adoption in 1978 and created a systematic process.
However, this does not mean that all the documentation on all biological parents has been correct, as that involves a lot of other officials outside of adoption related officials.
For example, there are also problems with government hospitals, where many of these babies are born. Poor people normally go to government hospitals because private hospitals are beyond their income. However, government hospitals are notoriously poor and the staff underpaid and sometimes just shiftless, whereby birth parent names are misspelled, addresses incomplete, and of course necessary information either not taken or else lost on paper or in a dysfunctional computer system.
There are also errors and oversights in record searches.
For starters, we need to see all your documentation in both languages, and especially in the original Thai language, in order to search for clues. It is very common for significant information to be "lost in translation". In a translation, the version in the target language should be longer than the version in the original language, if the translator has been careful to convey the full meaning of the original as much as possible. Unfortunately, routine translation of documents into standard paperwork formats (more or less) is how significant clues are lost in translation. It is better for us to deal with the originals in the Thai language. We don't deal with translations like a secretarial service. We provide a personalized service, extracting every meaningful bit of information from the original in Thai, and looking for clues which are often lost in translation.
It's also worth mentioning that professional private investigators of quality are trained and experienced at seeing clues where others see useless information, assimilating and analyzing information to find solutions, conceiving alternative strategies, persevering with due diligence in personalized service, and focussing on challenges. Quite unlike government work, private investigation is not a career which only requires one memorize information and pass an exam or get a certificate to be better than average and proper in some bureaucracy, and in fact most private investigators would be bored with and quit government work. Solving challenging cases requires extraordinary adaptative abilities, intelligence and resourcefulness. Clues must be recognized ... then investigated and acted upon. Without too much bureaucracy.
We must warn against getting your hopes up at this moment, but we won't know until we give it our best effort at analysis. At the very least, it's best to know that a best effort was made, sooner rather than later, and that your child knows you did your best to find their biological parents for them, exhausting every lead. We will look at your information at no cost to you, as we must before we can assess our chances of success and quote a cost for further investigation.
Our office was originally located in Pakkred (aka Pakkret), Nonthaburi (northern suburb of Bangkok), a short distance from the Pakkred Babies/Childrens Home (the largest orphanage in Thailand) and the Phayathai Babies Home aka Phayathai orphanage, whereby we know that area well.
We also had a Thai-English translation and interpreter division in that same office. Going back to the early 2000s, our company translated official Thai documents required to make selected children available for adoption in the USA. Our private investigations agency moved to the city center on Sukhumvit, and some time after that, the translation company followed to share our office.
Our manager of adoption tracing is Mrs. Kanta. The expat director, Mark (American), also assists foreign customers.
Native English speakers can just call Mark at:
Tel dialed internationally: +66-8-0062-4243 (English speaking mobile)
Tel dialed domestically: 08-0062-4243 (English speaking mobile)
Mark has WhatsApp and Line on these numbers, too.
A few things we commonly explain to people:
All official information in Thailand is in the Thai alphabet, not romanized A-z. The Thai alphabet is derived from sanskrit and pali, and is 44 characters. The romanized version of names which you have is essentially just something written so that you can read the name, but does not exist in official records, except possibly passports in both languages but the Foreign Ministry's version may differ from what the subject wrote for you. For example, on dual language highway signs, you can see the name of a city down the road spelled several different ways on subsequent signs in A-z, but of course always spelled the same way in Thai. Likewise for peoples' names.
We are able to transliterate surnames from romanized A-z to Thai characters fairly straightforwardly in at least 90% of the cases, many very easily some some requiring some time and effort, but in many cases it significantly reduces our work if you can get the Thai version of the name. The other ~10% can be problematic, e.g., many potential variations in spelling. If you have the ID number, then this doesn't matter, but if you don't have the ID number and only a name, and only in A-z with no Thai language version, then this paragraph applies.
Once you transliterate a name one way or another on any important document, then you must stick to that transliteration. For example, many foreigners in Thailand get serious problems this way, such as having their name transliterated on a Thai marriage certificate, and then setting up a company in Thailand whereby the lawyer just transliterates their name in company documents his own way, and then the foreigner gets a Thai driver's license with his name transliterated slightly differently, and so on. Later, the foreigner combines these documents in some application in the public or private sector and it is rejected, requiring they go back and do official changes of all documents necessary to conform to one transliterated spelling, thereby causing major delays and wastage of time, effort, and money. Similar things happen to Thai people who go overseas. The most common standard document to conform to is a passport, whereby the Foreign Ministry established the transliteration in passing. However, you generally should stick to the first transliteration, whether it be a hospital or orphanage documentation, or whatever first important document.
We have been asked many times how to spell the word "Phayathai" because people see it spelled many ways. The answer is to spell it the way you have it on other documents. It's spelled a few different ways in A-z, such as Phayatai, Phayathai, Phyathai, Payatai, etc. (The Ph is pronounced like a P, not an F.) The "Thai" in "PhayaTHAI" is not spelled the same way in the Thai language as the word "Thai" and it's not the same word. The word is pronounced Pie-ya-tie. (Thais throw in a lot of h's into words, but they are silent.)
Just a little bit of history, and to clear up a common source of confusion:
The Phayatai orphanage is no longer located in the Phayatai district as it was in the 1990s. It was moved to new facilities adjacent the Pakkred Orphanage in the Pakkred district of Nonthaburi, which is about 20 km from the Phayatai district. When the Phayatai orphanage was created, Bangkok was small and it was just outside the city center. The city center has expanded, so that it's now on the edge of the de facto city center, with many highrises of its own. The Phayatai orphanage aka Babies Home was moved to Pakkred (aka Pakkret) to be alongside and merged with the Pakkred Orphanage, but they kept the name Phayatai. It's now the same place by two names. Some people still go to the old Phayatai Orphanage in Phayatai, but they will just relay you out to Pakkred, unless you want to see what's left of the old Phayatai Orphanage.
BBC News article, January 2007, about one of our customers, an adoptive parent. We found her son's biological father and his location together with his family. (We also found the mother's records but her physical location was unknown and she was unreachable by her family at the time.)
It is important to employ the right person for the job, not necessarily someone who just happens to be available, such as your friend, someone who just needs work, or an associate who is not a professional private investigator. For the best results, hire an experienced private investigator.
Keep in mind that professional agents are skilled, reliable and can be directed systematically in ways that others cannot. We are efficient and diligent in providing a personalized service.
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Our company is located in central Bangkok on Sukhumvit soi 2, within walking distance of the skytrain, between the Ploenchit and Nana stations.
Thailand Private Investigations,
a division of:
Lucky Lion Pride Co., Ltd.
Ploymitr Office Building, Floor 7
81 Sukhumvit soi 2
By appointment only, please.
Sometimes, an agent can meet you at
your location (depends on location).
Email: inbox at our domain name.
Office Tel.: +66-2255-0620
Mobile Tel.: +66-8-0062-4243 (native English speaker)
Old customers please note:
We moved our office from Pakkred, Nonthaburi (next to the government post office) to the city center. Please do not go out to our old office in Pakkred, on Bond Street. We are no longer there.
Our office is co-located with Export Quality Services Co., Ltd., aka EQ, which is the same company we previously operated under, but we split off the private investigations business to a daughter company, Lucky Lion Pride Co., Ltd., whereby EQ now focuses on language translation and some other things.
Mobile Tel.: +66-80-062-4243 or 080-062-4243 (native English speaker) -- call ANYTIME, 24/7 (I turn off my phone volume when asleep and leave the phone in an unoccupied home office room, so no worries about 24/7 activities.)
If you want to chat via LINE / WhatsApp, please add the phone number above to your phone's contacts, and it should automatically add me to your LINE and WhatsApp shortly after that.
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2023 public website, expat in Thailand since 1994.