Searching for a birth mother or female adoptee or sibling can be particularlly challenging. Here are some of the things women do (unintentionally, in most cases!) that can make locating them extra-difficult (this is not an exhaustive list...there are probably a few "tricks" we didn't even think of...).

 

1. They sometimes get married (and often change their surname in the process) and sometimes "change" their surname without actually "tying the knot" which can result in as many as five or six surname changes by the time they've turned 60...

 

2. They sometimes change their first name to their nickname (Katherine to Kathy, Margaret to Peggy, Elizabeth to Lizz...).

 

3. They sometimes reverse their first and middle names. (e.g. Louise M. Studer becomes Monica L. Studer)

 

4. They sometimes change their middle name to their maiden name when they get married (e.g. Rose D. McCarthy becomes Rose M. Parker) or use a previous married name as their middle name....

 

5. They sometimes go back to using their maiden name without getting divorced and sometimes continue using their married name even after they've been divorced..

 

6. They sometimes die without having acquired enough social security "points" to qualify for a death benefit and, for this reason, may not be listed on the social security death index.

 

7. They sometimes change their date of birth (in every case where we've encountered this phenomenon, the year of birth had been altered, but not the actual "birth day").

 

8. Their phone number is rarely listed in their name and, when it is, it's likely to be listed under the first initial and last name, not their full name.

 

9. They are sometimes listed under their husband's social security number (primarily older women who have never been employed and continue to collect their spouse's SS benefits after his death).

 

10. They can change their hair color at will...and gain as much as 40 or 50 pounds between the ages of 20 and 40...or lose as much as two inches in height after their child-bearing years...

 

If you're encountering difficulties locating a woman over the age of 25, try being creative with your search and looking for your birth mother, birth daughter or sister under her nickname, a different middle initial or a different year of birth. One birth mother we eventually located was born Mary Zedric (in the 20s), but moved to Hollywood and changed her name to Marion Sedgwick in the late 40s...and was even buried and issued a death certificate under her more glamorous-sounding alias...even though she had never legally changed her name or married...