Access to Adoption Records - California

Date:

Who May Access Information

Citation: Fam. Code § 9202; 9203

Nonidentifying information is available to the following:

  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • The adoptive parent of an adoptee who is under age 18

Identifying information is available to the following:

  • The adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • The birth parent of an adult adoptee
  • The adoptive parent of an adoptee who is under age 21

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8706; 8817; 9202

Nonidentifying information about the birth parents and adoptee, such as medical history, scholastic information, psychological evaluations, and developmental history, is provided to the adopting parents.

The Department of Social Services or licensed adoption agency shall provide a copy of the medical report, in the manner the department prescribes by regulation, to any of the following persons upon the person's request:

  • A person who has been adopted and is at least age 18 or presents a certified copy of the person's marriage certificate
  • The adoptive parent of a person under age 18

A person who is denied access to a medical report may petition the court for review of the reasonableness of the department's or licensed adoption agency's decision.

The names and addresses of any persons contained in the report shall be removed unless the person requesting the report has previously received the information.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 9203; 9205; 9206

The adoptee who is age 21 or older may request the release of the identity of his or her birth parents and their most current address shown in the records of the department or licensed adoption agency if the birth parent or parents have indicated consent to the disclosure in writing.

The birth parent may request disclosure of the name and most current address of the adoptee if the adoptee is age 21 or older and has indicated in writing that he or she wishes his or her name and address to be disclosed.

The adoptive parent of an adoptee under age 21 may request disclosure of the identity of a birth parent and the birth parent's most current address shown in the records if the department or licensed adoption agency finds that a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstances justify the disclosure.

If an adult adoptee and the birth parents have each filed a written consent with the department or licensed adoption agency, the department or agency may arrange for contact between those persons.

Information about a birth sibling may be released to another sibling provided both are age 18 or older and have provided a written waiver.

Photos, letters, and other personal property may be released upon request if the adoptee is age 18 or older and other conditions have been met.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Health & Safety Code § 102705

All records and information specified in this article, other than the newly issued birth certificate, shall be available only upon the order of the superior court of the county of residence of the adopted child or the superior court of the county granting the order of adoption.

No such order shall be granted by the superior court unless a verified petition setting forth facts showing the necessity of the order has been presented to the court and good and compelling cause is shown for the granting of the order. The clerk of the superior court shall send a copy of the petition to the State Department of Social Services, and the department shall send a copy of all records and information it has concerning the adopted person with the name and address of the natural parents removed to the court. The court must review these records before making an order and the order should so state. If the petition is by or on behalf of an adopted child who has attained majority, these facts shall be given great weight, but the granting of any petition is solely within the sound discretion of the court.

Where the Information Can Be Located

  • California Department of Social Services
  • The licensed agency involved in the adoption