The first thing to find out is the local courthouse(s) where there is
a possibility such an adoption or name change would have taken place.
If you can narrow that down, the next question to answer is if such a
legal action is sealed (that is, a law or court order specifically
prevents you from seeing such records.) You can ask the Clerk's desk
at that courthouse, they are more than eager to tell you to get lost
if you don't have the legal right, though you can also ask an attorney
in that area.
If they are open, then somone, you or someone you pay, would have to
search for such records. For experienced lawyers or paralegals, such
searches, if such records are open, should be very easy, with
knowledge of your current legal name (and/or your birth name.)
Record searching in most areas can be a do-it-yourself task of no
great difficulty, though there are some courthouses where the staff
can be really ornery even if/when you have the right to see those
Also, examine your birth certificates. It is really difficult to know
why you NEED to find out HOW your name became the way it is. In many
cases, there is a strong curiosity, but seldom a legal need if you
have solid birth certificates under your current legal name. If the
b/c does not agree with your current legal i.d. yes, that can be a
hassle, but after this many years one must assume there is no problem
if you have gone to school or held a job, etc.
Your side comment, for I took it to be such, about whether your birth
father knew or cared, either is possible. The famous Baby Jessica
case, a few years ago, the adoption crew apparently deliberately
ignored legal notice requirements for the birth father, thinking the
Iowa Supreme Court would continue its long practice of permitting
local courts to totally disregard rights of biological fathers. Laws
25 years ago had much less regard for rights of biological fathers.
And, whether you guys were conceived in a passing relationship, or
within marriage before divorce, there are indeed men with unemployment
and/or emotional issues, with neither the will nor financial or
emotional ability to defend their rights. In most such cases, both man
and woman are young and somewhat immature, and do not always make good
Also, with very high rates of refused parental contact, a man who
believes he will never see his kids again in any case will find it
logical to sign off on adoption. There are so many possibilities one
cannot even make a solid list of the variables involved.
My personal suggestion is to put that part of the issue out of your
mind. This comes under the category of "let the past go since it is
too late to change anything." Thank God you apparently had a good
stepfather, if that was the case.
My Real Daughter is not my Biological Daughter. I once asked her if
perhaps she wished to find out if she had half-brothers and sisters.
She said no, there was no point in it, she didn't even care to think
about it, her bio-dad left, and she has a Real Dad, and brothers and
sisters, there is nothing missing in her life. If you can develop this
attitude, that will be one less stress in your life. Worrying about
this, I call "beating yourself up for no reason."