About Adoption Records
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About Adoption Records

For birth parents and adoptive parents, adoption is one of the most loving things to do. In traditional adoptions, there are laws in place to protect the identity of all those involved. There is certain information given to the adoptive parents; however, there are times when more information is needed, such as in medical situations. There are also times when either the adoptive person or the biological family wishes to seek contact with the other. Each state has laws in place to address these situations.

Nonidentifying Information

Information such as the day and place the adopted child was born is considered nonidentifying information. Other nonidentifying information includes the birth parents’ age, race and a general description. It might include the birth parents’ reasons for placing the child for adoption and whether the birth parents have any other children. Any nonidentifying information is given to the adoptive parents when the child is adopted. While the adopted child is a minor, the adoptive parents or guardian can access this information; after the child turns 18, he can access this information himself. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has links to states’ adoption information.

Nonidentifying Information Restrictions

Birth parents can access nonidentifying information, although it varies for each state. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, 27 states permit the birth parents to have access to nonidentifying information. In many states, the birth siblings have access to this information. Some states require people to register with the state’s adoption registry before they can access this information. The court must be petitioned for this information in Pennsylvania and Guam. In some states, if there’s a medical issue, the adoptive parents can ask the state’s adoption department to contact the birth parents for more health information.

Identifying Information

Identifying information can identify the adopted child, her birth parents or relatives and includes present names and contact information. When birth parents place their child for adoption, in most states they’re allowed to indicate whether the child being placed for adoption can access this information she reaches 18 or 21. If not, the adoptive person will have to petition the court. In some states, access to identifying information can be granted to birth siblings if permission is granted from both parties.

Registry of Mutual Consent

Many states have registries that allow everyone involved in the adoption to indicate whether they do or don’t want anyone to have access to their identifying information. The requirements for this registry vary from state to state. Some have minimum age requirements of the adopted child, while others require a signed affidavit granting permission for access to identifying information.

Other Contact Methods

The Confidential Intermediary System is used in those states that don’t have a registry of mutual consent. The court will certify an intermediary to access the sealed records in order to contact birth family members to see whether they’ll grant permission to be contacted. There are also many websites–such as Adoption Search by Peace Monastery–that allow people involved in an adoption, foster care or divorce to register their information for the purpose of contact.

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