Access to Original Birth Certificates: A Human Right

When a child is adopted in America, his/her original birth certificate becomes sealed and an amended birth certificate is issued, which lists the adoptive parents as birth parents. Although openness and transparency are hallmarks of adoption today, the practice of sealing an adopted person’s birth certificate remains.

Thanks to the work of committed and tenacious advocates, many states have moved to allow some degree of access for adopted people to request a copy of their original birth certificate upon reaching adulthood. Below is a map that indicates the different types of access by state as well as a key which includes definitions of the different types of access. The information is current as of November 2016.

We hope that advocates in states will keep us apprised of updates to their reform efforts and any changes to state laws surrounding an adopted person’s right to access a copy of his or her original birth certificate. We welcome people also alerting us to any discrepancies on this map and providing us with information to ensure the map is current and accurate.

Together, we can all work to ensure that ultimately, access to original birth certificates is a human right that adopted people in every state can enjoy.

To read more on an adopted person’s right to his or her original birth certificate, read our report: Adoption in America Today: The Good, The Bad, and a Path to Reform.

DEFINITIONS

  • No Access: There is currently no specific mechanism for adopted people to apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate outside of the possibility of obtaining a court order.
  • Partial Access with Restrictions: Adopted people born and adopted during a certain time frame may apply for a copy of their original birth certificate. However, information may be redacted or release may be denied.
  • Partial Access: Adopted people born and adopted during a certain time frame may apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate.
  • Access with Restrictions: Adopted people may apply for a copy of their original birth certificate. However, certain restrictions may apply, such as identifying information being redacted or a birth parent being able to deny release.
  • Access: Adopted people may apply for and receive a copy of their original birth certificate just like non-adopted people.

 

Sources: http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/state.php

                https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/infoaccessap.pdf

 

Since 1996, The Donaldson Adoption Institute has been on a mission to improve the lives of children and families through research, education and advocacy. We investigate the issues of greatest concern to first/birth families, adoptive/foster families, adopted people, the people who love them and the professionals that serve them. We educate and train professionals, enlighten parents and engage members of the community to make a positive impact on laws, policies, practices and perceptions.

TAKE OUR OPENNESS IN ADOPTION CURRICULUM DONATE TODAY SIGN UP FOR UPDATES FROM DAI INCLUDING OUR QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

4 Comments on “Access to Original Birth Certificates: A Human Right

  1. Thanks for your comment. DAI agrees that family preservation is optimal. We also agree that when adoption happens, openness and transparency are vital. Please read our open letter for more information on our perspectives: http://www.letsadoptreform.org/open-letter/. Because adoption does happen, we advocate for adopted people to have unrestricted access to their original birth certificates upon reaching adulthood.

  2. I am looking for my birth parents. Can you please help Me? Can you call me at 678 629 6617

  3. It’s a human right to remain related to your ancestry and kin. Just access – seeing your cancelled birth certificate and who you USED to be related to – does not restore that right.

  4. I have been told, by very reliable sources, that my great grandmother on my mom’s side was adopted. She was born on an Cherokee Indian reservation in Oklahoma in 1880. Apparently she was adopted shortly after birth. Where do I begin? Everyone who would know anything is dead. All my 80 year old mom knows is that she was told was that she was born on the reservation and adoption is true. Great grandma’s death certificate lists her, who we believe are, her adopted parents names. I don’t know if she had an Indian name or how to even research it. Do you have any suggestions? I’d sure appreciate them!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *