WARM celebrates its 40th birthday

Thursday, October 13, 2016

WARM, the Washington Adoption Reunion Movement, celebrates its 40th year of reuniting families separated by adoption this month.
Pam Queen is an adoptee reunited in 1978, WARM Board member and Intermediary, and adoptive parent.

By Pam Queen

In August 1976, an adoptee contacted DSHS about doing a search for her birth parents. The terms have changed over the years from ‘natural’ to ‘birth’ and some people use the term, ‘biological’. September 1976, an ad was placed in the Seattle Times, as surely more adoptees felt like she did.

Things began to happen. BIRTHRIGHT was born.

The first meetings were held in the homes of the members. The group grew exponentially and over the years, the support group meetings were held in various parts of Seattle along with other cities in Washington. Currently, meetings are held in Sumner and West Seattle/Capitol Hill.

At first the members were adoptive parents and adoptees. No one had ever known a Birth Parent. At first the adoptees and adoptive parents discussed their ideas but were at a loss how to do the ‘search thing’. How to find a birth parent, what to say, who should contact. The decision was made to use an intermediary to protect all parties.

The first three successful contacts were made February 1977.

One of the adoptive parents in the group contacted King County Superior Court Judge Norman B. Ackley, who through the early years guided and mentored BirthRight. Simultaneously, within the State the adoption and public agencies developed a task force to discuss ways to access information. Judge Ackley established procedures for petitioning the court to open sealed records.

Summer 1977, the first sealed file was opened to a BirthRight Confidential Intermediary.

1978, the organization began networking with other groups in the US. The American Adoption Congress (AAC) was born.

BirthRight was renamed to Washington Adoption Rights Movement (WARM) which later became Washington Adoption Reunion Movement (WARM). Reunion is our focus.

By 1980, 35 of the 39 counties were using WARM procedures, 450 adoption files had been opened resulting in a 97% success ratio. Success is defined as agreement to contact.

June 1990, the WARM Confidential Intermediary process was passed into law and ALL counties open their files to WARM.

By 1995, 18 states had adopted the WARM Confidential Intermediary system.

July 2014, WARM supported changing Washington State law allowing adoptees to purchase their original birth certificate (OBC). The OBCs have at least their birth mother’s name.

So far the State has issued over 5200 original birth certificates to adoptees.

Since 1976, WARM has helped nearly 11,000 adoptees, birth parents, extended family members, and adoptive parents which does not count the innumerable answered phone and email queries which are estimated to be over 50,000. WARM locates nearly 100% and the success ratio (obtaining consent) continues to be above 90%.

Our clients live all over the world from the US to Uruguay to the UK to Australia. All searches are important to WARM. We rejoice to locate family; we are sad when we locate a deceased person but the sadness returns to joy when we find extended family members.

The oldest adoption record accessed so far dates back to about 1903.

WARM’s recent triumph was to locate the true identity of three birth mothers who had given false names.

WARM has accomplished much in 40 years and we look forward to continuing to be able to say



WARM believes in truth, openness, and honesty in adoption.


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