How to Get Adoption Records

Adoption is a difficult life-altering process for all parties involved. Sometimes, years later, birth parents or adoptees wish to look each other up. There are many laws regulating the release of records, which vary from state to state. Here are some ways you can try to get adoption records:

  • State laws All adoption laws are state laws, which include the regulations for releasing information to adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. All state laws and regulations are listed on public Web sites provided by each state [source: Child Welfare Information Gateway].
  • "Open records states" Some states allow adoptees who have reached the age of 18 access to identifying information just by filing a simple application. Currently, only Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Oregon, and New Hampshire have "open records" [source: Caballero].
  • Mutual consent registries Many states have set up registries, in which adult adoptees and birth parents can give consent to release identifying information from adoption records. The procedure for giving consent also varies from state to state, but if both parties agree, they can find out who each other are [source: Child Welfare Information Gateway].
  • Confidential intermediaries Some states use public or private third party agencies that assist in locating birth-family members to find out if they will consent to releasing information. Some states allow a confidential intermediary to access sealed adoption records for the purpose of finding birth-family members and asking them to consent to releasing information to the searching party. Other states use an affidavit system that allows them to consent or refuse to the release of information [source: Child Welfare Information Gateway].