Adoption records are information-based documents, which are compiled, into a thorough report to include all biographical information as it pertains to a child up for adoption and the coordinating parents who adopt. In nearly all states throughout America, adoption records are sealed and subsequently withheld from public inspection after an adoption process has been finalized. The majority of states throughout the country have instituted procedures by which coordinating parties to an adoption may obtain both identifying and non-identifying information from an adoption record while still enabling protection regarding the interests of all involved parties.
The traditional forms of adoption records will contain two forms of information: Non-identifying information and Identifying information. Both forms of information will be regulated based on the adoption laws of the particular jurisdiction in which the adoption records were produced and subsequently delivered to the prospective adopting parties.
Non-identifying information is typically limited to descriptive details about an adoptee and the adopted child’s birth relatives. Generally, this type of information is provided to the adopting parties at the time the adoption was finalized or agreed upon.
Non-identifying information will typically include the following information:
The date and place of the adopted child’s birth
The age of the biological parents and the general physical description, such as the child’s eye and hair color
The race, religion, ethnicity and medical history of the biological parents
The educational level of the biological parents and their occupations at the time the adoption took place
Any existence of other children born to each birth parent
The reason for placing the child up for adoption
Each state in America will introduce provisions in statute that will allow for access to non-identifying information by an adoptive parent or a guardian of an adoptee who happens to be a minor. Nearly every state will allow the adoptee to access non-identifying information about birth relatives—typically administered upon written request. In most cases, the adopting party must be at least 18 years of age before the individual may access this information.
Approximately, 28 states in the country allow birth parents to access such information, generally concerning the health and social history of the child. Furthermore, 15 states will give such access to adult birth siblings. Policies on the information collected and how that information is maintained and disclosed will vary from state to state.
Identifying information pertains to the disclosure of records or other information that may lead to the identification of biological parents, other birth relatives, or the adoptee. Identifying information will include current or past names of the individual, any employment records, addresses, or similar information. Statutes in the majority of states will permit the release of identifying information when the individual whose information is sought will consent to the release.
If consent is not fulfilled with the appropriate party, the information will not be released without a court order, which documents a ‘good cause’ to release the information. A party seeking a court order must demonstrate through the delivery of clear and convincing evidence that there is a compelling reason for disclosure which effectively outweighs maintaining condfiendeitality of a party to an adoption.