NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Adoption Information Laws Vary Among States

January 17, 2000

Children who are adopted typically get birth certificates bearing the names of their adoptive parents. Later, as adults, they may want to search out their biological parents. The level of cooperation they get from their state will be is far from uniform across the country.

  • Except in Alaska, Kansas, Delaware and Tennessee, adoptees cannot get original birth certificates without court orders or other legal consent.
  • Although Oregon voters approved a law in 1998 allowing adopted adults born there to get their original birth certificates, it is being challenged and is presently stalled in court.
  • Tennessee maintains a "veto" registry which allows birth parents to deny contacts from their offspring, and adoptees face penalties if they make contact.
  • Delaware also gives birth-parents 35 days to veto release of birth certificate information.

Observers say the new adoption record laws are working well.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "New Laws Allow Adoptees to Learn About their Roots," Washington Times, January 17, 2000.


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