Access to Adoption Records - Massachusetts

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Who May Access Information

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

Nonidentifying information may be provided to the following:

  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • The adoptive parents
  • The birth parents

Identifying information may be released to the following:

  • The adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • The adoptive parents
  • The birth parents

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

A child-placing agency that holds records relating to an adoptee, the birth parents, or the adoptive parents shall do the following:

  • Release to the adoptee who is age 18 or older, upon his or her written request, information about his or her birth parents that does not identify the birth parents or their present or former locations
  • Release to a birth parent of an adoptee, upon the birth parent's written request, information about the adoptee that does not reveal his or her identity after adoption or his or her present or former locations
  • Release to an adoptive parent, if the adoptee is under age 18, upon the adoptive parent's written request, information about the adoptee and his or her birth parents that does not identify the birth parents or their present or former locations

The information shall include such nonidentifying information that the agency holds concerning the medical, ethnic, socioeconomic, and educational circumstances of the person. The agency, in its discretion, shall further release such nonidentifying information concerning the circumstances under which the adoptee became available for adoption as it deems to be in the best interests of the person so requesting.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

If a child-placing agency has received written permission from a birth parent to release the identity of the birth parent to the adoptee, and the agency has received written permission from the adoptee or written permission from the adoptive parents, if the adoptee is under age 21, to release the identity after adoption of the adoptee to the birth parent, then the agency shall release the identity of the adoptee to the birth parent and the identity of the birth parent to the adoptee.

The child-placing agency shall do the following:

  • Release to the birth parent, upon the birth parent's written request, any personal data that it holds relating to the birth parent
  • Release to an adoptive parent, upon his or her written request, any personal data that it holds relating to the adoptive parent

In making any disclosure of information, the agency shall remove personal identifiers relating to a third person. All other adoption records held by the placement agency shall be confidential and shall not be released.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 46, § 13

If the original birth record has been amended following adoption, the State registrar shall issue information contained in the original record only upon receipt of an order of the probate court instructing the State registrar to release the information contained in the original record. Evidence contained in the adoption record of a parent's willingness to provide information about her identity to the adoptee shall, except in extraordinary circumstances, be considered sufficient evidence to warrant the granting of an order for release of the information contained in the birth certificate registered prior to adoption.

Where the Information Can Be Located

  • Adoption Search Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Social Services
  • Registry of Vital Records and Statistics