Adoptees often want to know more about their biological parents, but it’s not always easy to get access to adoption records. There are a couple key factors that come into play here. Here’s everything you need to know about adoption records and why adoptees would seek out this information.
Why Adoptees Would Want to Know Who Their Biological Parents Are
The most common reason why adoptees want access to their adoption records is that they want the opportunity to know their biological parents, at least in some capacity. It can be difficult to go through life not knowing your biological parents, and this can leave a lasting psychological impact. Some adoptees don’t mind and have little interest in meeting their biological parents, but most are at least a little interested in the idea.
If an adoptee meets their biological parents, they may also meet many other members of a family they didn’t have growing up, such as siblings or half-siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Of course, this depends on the relationship the adoptee forms with their biological family, but they’ll only have that opportunity if they meet their biological parents first.
Another important reason for seeking out biological parents is to learn one’s family history. There’s the natural desire for a person to know where they came from, and the family medical history is something that is good to know. If an adoptee’s biological family has a history of heart disease, then it’s important for them to know that, as they can talk to their doctor about it and take preventative measures to avoid the same problems. However, in most cases, an adoptee can access this information regardless of whether they meet with their biological parents, as it’s considered non-identifying information.
How Adoption Records Work
The question of are adoption records public has a simple answer – no, they’re not. If adoption information was part of the public record, then anyone would be able to access it, which doesn’t protect the privacy of any of the people involved. Instead of looking at it as a matter of public record, it’s important to understand that there are two types of adoption:
- Open adoption
- Closed adoption
In open adoption, the adoptee and their family will have at least some information about the biological parents, and vice versa. They will also typically have the option to contact each other. In a closed adoption, all records on the biological parents are sealed, and the only way the adoptee can access these adoption records is by a court order.
The first factor that determines whether an adoption is open or closed is the area where the adoption took place. Every country has different adoption laws, and in the United States, adoption laws are set by the state. In areas that allow closed adoption, the biological parents can also provide consent for either identifying or non-identifying information to be released later.
Most states allow closed adoption, but will also provide at least non-identifying information to the adoptee should they ask for it upon reaching adulthood. It also may be possible for the adoptee to get identifying information via court order, even if the adoption records were sealed at the time.
The line between identifying and non-identifying information is whether the information could realistically lead to the adoptee identifying their biological parents or any other biological relatives. Non-identifying information includes family medical history along with quite a few other details, including the race, age and education of the biological parents.
Other Ways to Find Biological Parents and Family Members
Adoption records aren’t the only option for adoptees who wish to learn more about their biological families. If they have the name of a biological family member, they could look for that person using social media, although this isn’t always a good idea. If the biological parents wished to remain private and didn’t choose to disclose identifying information, then it may be best to respect that. However, you can find out who your real parents are if you choose to. You can find out who your mom is and find out who your birth father is.
One less intrusive method of getting in touch with biological family members is the Find My Family Adoption Registry. Here’s how it works:
- The adoptee registers with the organization.
- The adoptee gives the organization any info they have on the adoption.
- The adoptee looks through the organization’s database to look for any previous registrants who may be a match.
- If the adoptee finds anyone, they can have the organization do more research to see if it’s a match.
This is a good way to go because contact will only be made if both sides seek each other out.
If an adoptee wants more information on their biological family, there are legal avenues available to get it. How much info is available will depend on the state where the adoption took place and what the biological parents consented to, but it has at least become significantly easier for adoptees to contact their biological parents than it was in decades past.