Obtaining Your Adoption Records – Is It A Complicated Process?

In our previous blog we talked about the types of information that you can collect to help with the search for your birth family – your Adoption Records and joining an Adoption Reunion Registry for instance. This month we will delve further into these topics some more.

Your Adoption Records

At The Adoption Specialist we can help you with this sometimes complicated and time consuming process of reconnecting with lost relatives. However, for some adoptees, they may wish to start their journey by obtaining the records themselves. So, where do you start?

Can I Obtain My Adoption Records?

The records, which are often kept by local authorities, institutions or private adoption agencies, are a collection of confidential documents that detail your birth identity, the identity and traits of your birth mother and father and possibly, details of why you were placed for adoption. 

Adoption Legislation differs from State to State, so it is important to check with the State where your adoption took place before you begin. Access to your records can also depend on whether you are looking for identifying or non-identifying information and the circumstances around your adoption. 

  • Identifying Information – This information can only be accessed with the birth parents permission or in the case of an open adoption. This information will include names, dates of birth and possibly the address at which your parents were living at the time of your adoption.
  • Non-Identifying Information – This information can include details of ethnicity, occupation, age or medical history of the birth parents and possibly the reason for adoption. This information can usually be obtained on request in most situations.
  • Open Adoption – Allows an adoptee, by submitting an application to the authority holding the records, to access the identifying information of their birth parents and other adoption data.
  • Closed Adoption – The adoption records are sealed and an adoptee is prevented from accessing the information contained within them. In an emergency situation, requiring a compatible organ donor for instance, an application can be made to a Court of Law for access, although there are many legal barriers to overcome in this situation. You will need to provide evidence of your vital need for the information and further conditions may be placed in order for you to gain access. 

If you gain access to your records they may contain:

  • Your Original Birth Certificate – When you were born, a Birth Certificate was issued with your pre-adoption identity and the names of your birth parents. Upon adoption this is replaced with an Adoption Certificate with your post-adoption identity and the details of your adoptive parents.
  • Medical Records From Your Birth – Some Adoption Records may also contain details of your birth in the form of hospital/medical facility records of the birth, together with details of any complications or interventions that you may have had at the time.
  • Court Petitions or Decisions – To finalize an official adoption, your adoptive parents will have had to petition a Court of Law to grant them parental status and confirm you as their legal child. If the information is available, these documents may also contain details of your pre-adoption identity and that of your birth parents.
  • Records From An Adoption Agency – Often private adoption agencies maintain more detailed records and can include information about your birth parents socio-economic situation at the time of your birth and potentially the reasons and circumstances of their decision to place you for adoption. These records may also include letters and photographs from your birth parents.

Possible Barriers When Obtaining Your Adoption Records

If you’ve decided obtaining your Adoption Records may be an option for you and your journey to finding your birth parents, please be prepared for the process to be lengthy with a potential for obstacles along the way. It is also worth considering the following:

  • You may not know, or have been provided with the wrong information about the State that your birth or adoption took place in.
  • You do not have the correct information to identify the correct institution, agency or authority with whom you need to contact for the records.
  • There could be long application response times due to staff shortages, large workload or locating the records. In some cases the records may have been misplaced or lost.
  • Some institutions, agencies or authorities may require you to file your application in person in the State in question and do not have an online or postal application service.
  • You could come up against additional ‘red tape’ put in place but some institutions, authorities or agencies. There is also a possibility that some agencies or institutions may no longer be operating and recovering their previous records could be a timely exercise.
  • The records that you do receive may be incomplete or contain falsified information. The information that they do contain may be outdated – the details of your birth parents could have changed for example, if they have moved house, changed their surnames or passed away.

It would be easy to lose hope after considering those points, but please don’t! There are a number of ways to trace your birth family that do not necessarily need the information available in your Adoption Records. At The Adoption Specialist we use a number of tried and tested methods to reunite families, including DNA Testing. We have a number of blogs here that contain more information that may help to reassure you.
The Adoption Specialist has many years of experience and success reuniting families with their lost loved ones. With our Intermediary Service we can also help you make the first steps to contacting and meeting your biological family or child. Contact us today on (562) 438 6589 or fill out our Search Form here to get started with your journey.

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