Adoption Laws in the Heartland

I travel. A lot.  Right now I’m in Nebraska where I was hoping I’d find snowy walks in the woods under brittle skies, but everything is a shade of brown or gray and while I’m waiting for my grad school seminar to start, I’d rather be inside than outside so I’m googling again.  Here’s what I’ve got on accessing adoption records here in the heartland.  Again, the comments in red are mine.

access to adoption records

Obtaining Non-Identifying Information:

Adoptive parents at the time of placement and adopted adults can receive medical information. This is pretty much the same situation as Hawaii.  The medical information is gathered at the time of the birth/ placement.  Who is updating the medical information that Nebraska authorities deem adult adoptees can receive?  Let’s say you’re an adult adoptee of 25 or so and you want to start your own family and would like a heads up on possible genetic conditions. Twenty-five-year-old information won’t present the entire picture.  It probably won’t even come close.
Obtaining Identifying Information: See below. Birth parents may file a consent or non-consent form with the State social services department regarding their information. And again, do birthparents know how to update that information?  Is there an administrative fee?  The adoption agency I used charged me $25.00 for the non-identifying information they gave me.

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate:
As a preface, let me say that withholding original birth certificates from birthmothers is unnecessary since there is nothing on the birth certificate that they wouldn’t already know.  Refusal to let a woman have the certificate of birth for her child can be construed only as an act of intimidation.
Adults who were adopted on or after September 1, 1988, (so you have to be older in Nebraska than you do in Hawaii. This is all so random)can receive a copy of the original birth certificate, medical records on file, and information about agency assistance in searching, unless a birth parent has filed a non-consent form. Adults who were adopted before September 1, 1988, upon written request to the court, can receive identifying information and a copy of the original birth certificate if both birth parents have consented. 

The Law

– Nebraska Revised Statute 43-113 et. seq.
An adopted person 25 years of age or older may request access to the names of relatives or the original birth certificate. 

Upon receipt of such a request, the bureau shall look for consent and non-consent (veto) forms. 

If a birth parent consent is on file, and there is no veto filed by the adoptive parents, The adoptive parents have veto power over a 25 yr. old?  A 30 yr old?  A 40 yr old?the bureau shall release identifying information to the adoptee. 

If no birth parent consent is on file, and if no adoptive parent veto filed, the adoptee will be given the name and address of the court which issued the adoption decree, the name of the agency involved if any, and the fact that an agency may assist the adoptee in searching for relatives.

If the birth parent(s) is/are deceased, and there is no adoptive parent or birth parent veto on file, identifying information shall be released. Yup, that’s right.  If they’re dead, the state will help you find your birthparents.  The makings of a tragedy right there in the Nebraska adoption statutes.

If birth parent consent(s) has been filed, and there is no adoptive parent veto, the original birth certificate shall be given to the adoptee. Still…gotta have permission from your adoptive parents.

If there is no birth parent consent on file, and no adoptive parent veto, the adoptee may ask the agency to undertake a search to seek such consent. Costs shall be borne by the adoptee, irrespective of the outcome. How about a little more heartache?

Medical history information contained in agency files shall be provided to an adoptee upon request, with names and place of birth redacted.


I’ve been reunited with my son for 17 years. The sisters he might never have known under the restrictive adoption laws in the state of Iowa have had him in their lives as long as they can remember and we are all better for it.

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