Adoption Information Laws

Author: PeopleFinders on May 19th, 2020
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If you’re an adoptee searching for information about your biological family, you may have a hard time determining where to start. Where do you get information?

Your first thought may be to go through the legal system. After all, legally adopted individuals should have a trail that can lead back to biological parents. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Depending on where you live, your access to adoption information through the legal system can be either very open or very hidden.

Make sure you pay attention to the laws surrounding these important things:

-Non-identifying information

-Your original birth certificate

-Parents’ right to privacy versus your right to know

Non-Identifying Information

Most adoptees can access non-identifying information. Such info does not give the names or contact information of biological parents. But it might include certain things like the date and general area where an adoptee was born and a general physical description of the biological parents. Sometimes, there’s even a broad history of the biological parents, including race, ethnicity, religion, and basic medical information.

All states allow adoptive parents to access this information. And most states allow the adoptee to request it in writing.

This can be very helpful if you’re not necessarily interested in contacting your biological parents, but you want certain medical information that can be genetically important. Additionally, say you only want some basic information on your family history. Non-identifying information will help you learn a little more about where you came from without having to go through undue amounts of legal red tape.

Original Birth Certificate

An original birth certificate is the certificate issued with information about the biological parents when someone is born. When the state finalizes an adoption–which takes some time–even if the adoption has been decided in advance, a new birth certificate with the adopted parents’ names is issued.

Thus, even if you were adopted at birth, as long as the adoption happened through a legal agreement, you have another, original birth certificate.

This original birth certificate will give you identifying information about your biological parents, including full names and addresses. In many states, you need to request that the courts unseal the original before you can get a copy of it. That means going through the legal system. And, in many states, that also means receiving a court order, which often requires that you prove a necessity for obtaining the birth certificate.

Right to Privacy vs. Right to Know

Many states are currently involved in a battle pitting biological parents’ right to privacy against adoptees’ right to know where they came from. The Adoptees Right to Know Law intends to loosen the requirements of the states that only offer very limited or no access to original birth certificates.

As of the date of this post, many states still haven’t implemented this law. But it’s still a big step forward for adoptees who’ve had a difficult time accessing that original information.

What if My State Is Stringent on Adoption Information?

If your state is still strict with the information it allows adoptees to access, there are still a few ways to proceed. One is to access non-identifying information, and then wait to see if your state changes its laws. Maybe you can start working with adoption activism in your state to get the process started.

Or you can try to find your biological relatives directly, without going through the courts. One way to do try and do that is with a site like PeopleFinders.

With PeopleFinders, you can attempt to perform a people search on yourself. PeopleFinders offers records for millions of American adults. So, there’s a possibility that you’ll see potential biological family members in the “known relatives and associates” section. Check that section to see if there’s anyone you don’t recognize. Then check that person’s records to see if you can find out any more info about the nature of their relationship to you.


If you’re an adoptee, there are many different ways to start getting in contact with your biological family. Even if you didn’t know until recently, you can immediately start the process through the legal system. Or can you start investigating via a people search engine such as PeopleFinders, regardless of your state’s laws surrounding adoption.

That’s not all PeopleFinders may be able to help you do, either. Check the PeopleFinders blog for more information about how you can use these tools in your everyday life.

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