Category Archives: adoption records

Adoption Laws in the Frozen North

I’m in Minnesota. This may be redundant, but why stop now?

access to adoption records

Obtaining Non-Identifying Information:

Adoptive parents and adopted adults (age 19) may obtain non-identifying information. Nothing new here.

Obtaining Identifying Information:

Identifying information is provided on the original birth certificate, which is released according to the provisions below. 

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate:

An adopted adult can request a copy of the original birth certificate. At this time the Commissioner of Human Services will attempt to locate the birth parents to obtain consent to release the original birth certificate. If each birth parent is located and consents are given, the original birth certificate will be released.I’m noting the use of the plural here. On my son’s birth certificate, I asked that the father be listed as “unknown” as a means of protecting my boyfriend.  We never told his parents and it was my way of protecting him.If there is no reply or contact with the birth parents, for adopted adults adopted before August 1, 1977,so these people would be 32 years old now the adopted adult must petition the court for release of the original birth certificate. If the adoption was finalized on or after August 1, 1977, then the original birth certificate will be released to the adopted adult if the birth parents have not filed an access veto. Once again, when was the access veto filed and do they know how to rescind it if they want to?

And here’s another aspect of adoption law:
Under Minnesota law, a woman who gives birth to a child has “parental rights” to the child. These include the right to have the child live with you, to raise the child, and to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including the right to decide to place the child for adoption.

If a birth mother wants to place the child for adoption, she signs a consent to adoption form. Once a birth mother signs a proper consent to an adoption, the law requires that the mother be given ten working days for her to change her mind. After the ten days are up, the consent may not be revoked by the mother unless the court finds that the mother’s consent was obtained through fraud.

Ten days.

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.

Adoption Laws in Paradise

I’m in Hawaii right now, sitting in my hotel bed, thinking and googling (which sometimes go very nicely together.)

Here’s how it is if you are an adoptee in the state of Hawaii: The comments in red are mine.

access to adoption records

Obtaining Non-Identifying Information:

Adoptive parents and adopted adults may receive ethnic and medical history.  Keep in mind that the medical history they are most likely referring to is the information they gathered from the birthparents at the time of the birth.  A lot of medical stuff develops later in life.

Obtaining Identifying Information:
For adoptions finalized before January 1, 1991,
so these adoptees would be 18 or older adopted adults or adoptive parents must petition the court for information. The court will send a notice to the last known address of the birth parents. If no response is received, the adopted adult can access his or her information.This is good news for the adoptee, I guess.  But it leaves the birthmother out of the loop unless she hasn’t moved since the adoption. For adoptions finalized after December 31, 1990, the adopted adult or adoptive parents can receive information if there is no affidavit on file requesting confidentiality. A young birthmother who is facing the shame of an unplanned pregnacny or who has kept her pregnancy a secret from key people in her life is likely, I think, to request an affidavit of confidentiality.  My question:  What happens a few years down the road when she’s found she can’t forget her baby, move on, etc. etc.  Does she have information on how to undo the affidavit? 

Using the Adoption Registry:

Adopted adults and birth parents may register. 


Family Court Registry
Court Management Services
777 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96811

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate: 
An adoptee must petition the court in which the adoption was finalized.
There are situations I can imagine where the adoptee might not know this.


I’ve been thinking about social progress vs. political progress.  I saw the movie Milk the other night. A lot has changed for gays since the 70s.  Nowadays, many gays & lesbians carry on with their lives without keeping secrets about their sexual orientation.  There’s a fair amount of social acceptance for them, but legislated equal rights is another story.  

There are no overt social prejudices against adoptees (though I think birthmothers continue to be marked with a stigma)–yet most states have yet to pass legislation that will grant adoptees access to their birth records.  The fact that those records remain sealed and off limits to adult adoptees is a political wrong.