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Access To Adoption Records

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

National Adoption Clearing House

Across the U.S., adopted adults are petitioning for the right to access documentation regarding their adoption. Currently, there is no federal legislation that governs the release of information to adopted adults, birthparents, or birth relatives. Subsequently, each State deals with the release of information differently.


If you would like more information on the adoption records issue, please see the Access to Adoption Records factsheet , which explains the following:

  • adoption records terminology (identifying information, non-identifying information, registry);
  • mechanisms by which states release adoption-related information (registry, affidavit, confidential intermediary, court order);
  • types of registries, and how States apply them differently (active, passive, search and consent);
  • pending legislative activity, and how new laws would affect access to adoption records.

NAIC receives frequent requests for information on the access laws in a particular State. In this Access to Adoption Records table , you will find the following information for all 50 States and the District of Columbia:

  • the section of State law which addresses access to adoption records;
  • which parties may access non-identifying information;
  • which parties may access identifying information, and the methods for obtaining this information;
  • the addresses and telephone numbers of active or passive State registries and confidential intermediary services, if applicable;
  • the page of the State-sponsored Web site related to accessing adoption records, if applicable.

With the increasing use of the Internet as a tool for information dissemination, more States are making their statutes and codes available online. As there is no applicable federal legislation, access to adoption information and records is governed by each State's law. "Resources for State Adoption Statutes" provides links to those sections of State laws online concerned with access to adoption records by adoptees and birth relatives.

 Access to Vital Records

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The link on this page will open a new window to an external Web site. To return to NAIC's Web site, close the new window.

The National Center for Health Statistics, US Department of Health and Human Services publication Where to Write for Vital Records provides information on obtaining birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates for all fifty states and American territories. Included with each listing is the address to write for these records and the telephone number in each state to verify the current fee for these records. These records are maintained only on file in State or local vital statistics offices. The Federal Government does not maintain files or indexes of these records.

The publication also includes how to obtain foreign or high-seas birth and death certificates and certificates of citizenship.

This publication can be found online at Users may search for their specific information or download the entire volume, available through the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader.

 Reading Lists for Young Adults

NAIC has prepared several reading lists for adoptees in their early to late adolescence, who may be considering many issues related to their adoptive placement. These listings covers fictional and non-fiction accounts of adoptive placements, birth parent stories, and foster care placements, often from the adoptee's point of view.

Find Adoption Related Books for Children Ages 9-12 and Adoption Related Books for Teenagers in our Online Publications area under Resource Listings.

Introduction to Search

Welcome to the NAIC Introductory Package for those searching for birth relatives! Here, you will find comprehensive resources to assist you in learning about state laws regarding the search process, how to initiate a search for birth relatives, and the emotional issues related to search.

  • To begin, we recommend that you read our factsheets: Searching for Birth Relatives, The Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents, and Issues Facing Adult Adoptees which will give you basic information about the search process and an overview of the psychological and emotional issues common to those searching for birth relatives.

  • If you are considering initiating a search for your birth relatives, read our recently updated factsheet explaining current state laws on Access to Adoption Records, and see the table with state-by-state access information.

  • All those concerned with access to adoption records will want to review the adoption laws in the state in which the adoption was finalized; we provide resources for state adoption statutes for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

  • Finally, search our National Adoption Directory Online for resources in your state. Of special interest to searchers will be the listing of search support groups in each state.







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