How to Find an Original Birth Certificate After Adoption

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States with open adoption laws allow you to access your birth certificate without proving a specific need. States with closed adoptions require a court order.

After an adoption is finalized, the adopted child is given a new birth certificate reflecting his or her adoptive parent(s) and new last name. The original birth certificate is then sealed. Yet, although the laws vary state by state, adult adoptees may still access their original birth certificates in some circumstances. Currently, there are few U.S. states with open adoption laws that allow you to access your original birth certificate without proving a specific need for the information. In states with closed adoptions, the process is more difficult and will require a court order, but is nonetheless possible.

Open Adoption: Contact the Adoption Agency

Contact the agency through which you were adopted. If you were born in an open adoption state, the agency may be able to provide you with a copy of your original birth certificate.

Open Adoption: Contact the Vital Records Department

Check with department of vital records of the state in which you were born for information on how to order your birth certificate. In an open adoption state, if the adoption agency is unable to provide you with a copy of your original birth certificate, the vital records department may be able to access your original birth record for a nominal fee.

Closed Adoption: Contact the Courts

Go the courts. If you were not born in an open adoption state, you will need to get a court order before you can obtain a copy of your original birth certificate. File a petition with the court. To get a court order, you will need to file a petition with the clerk’s office of the jurisdiction in which your adoption was finalized. The petition will need to outline your reasons for requesting your original birth certificate. Usually, the reasons must be medical or some other emergency.

Make your case before the judge. Once you have filed your petition, your case will be heard before a judge, who will determine whether or not your adoption records should be opened. Order your original birth certificate using your court order. Once you have a signed order from the judge authorizing the disclosure of your original birth certificate, you or your attorney will need to send a written request to the department of vital records for the state where you were born. If you were born in another country, you may request your original birth certificate from the state where your adoption was finalized.

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About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.