Access to Adoption Records - North Carolina

Date: December 2019

Who May Access Information

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Nonidentifying information is available to the following:

  • The adoptive parent
  • The adult adoptee
  • A minor adoptee who is a parent or an expectant parent

A licensed child-placing agency or a county Department of Social Services may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the purpose of sharing identifying information for any of the following:

  • A birth parent
  • An adult adoptee
  • An adult birth sibling of an adult adoptee
  • An adult birth half-sibling of an adult adoptee
  • An adult family member of a deceased birth parent
  • An adult family member of a deceased adoptee

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-103; 48-3-205

Any person listed above may request a copy of any document prepared pursuant to § 48-3-205 and any additional nonidentifying health-related information about the adoptee's original family. The information that is provided at the time of the adoptive placement includes the following:

  • The date of the child's birth and any other reasonably available nonidentifying information
  • The age of the birth parents at the time of the child's birth
  • The heritage of the birth parents, including nationality, ethnic background, and race
  • Education completed by the birth parents at the time of the child's birth
  • The general physical appearance of the birth parents
  • All reasonably available nonidentifying information about the health and genetic history of the child, the birth parents, and other members of the birth parents' families

Nonidentifying information about the adoptee's present circumstances may be disclosed to a birth parent, an adult sibling, or the guardian of a minor sibling.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 48-9-104; 48-9-109

Except as provided below, no one shall release from any sealed records the name, address, or other identifying information about an adoptee; adoptive parent; birth parent; or individual, who, but for the adoption, would be the adoptee's sibling or grandparent, except upon order of the court.

A child-placing agency may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for a person listed above without appointment by the court in order to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information, facilitate contact, or share identifying information with the written consent of all parties. An agency also may agree to act as a confidential intermediary for the adoptive parents of a minor adoptee without appointment to obtain and share nonidentifying birth family health information.

If such agency determines that the person who is the subject of the search, or a lineal ascendant of that person, is deceased, the agency may obtain a copy of the death certificate and deliver it to the person who requested the services.

Nothing in this article is meant to prevent the following:

  • An employee of a court, agency, or any other person from doing the following:
    • Inspecting confidential records, other than records maintained by the State registrar, for the purpose of discharging any obligation
    • Disclosing the name of the court or agency involved in the adoption to an individual described above who can verify his or her identity
    • Disclosing or using information contained in sealed records for statistical or research purposes
    • Giving a file-stamped copy of a document to a person, or to the legal representative of a person, who has filed the document in an adoption proceeding
  • In agency placements, a parent placing a child for adoption and the adopting parents from authorizing an agency to release information to each other that may reveal the identity of an adoptee, an adoptive parent, or an adoptee's placing parent
  • The Division of Social Services from sharing information regarding the identity of birth parents with an agency acting as a confidential intermediary

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 48-9-106

Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order issued pursuant to § 48-9-105 authorizing the release of an adoptee's original birth certificate, the State registrar shall give the individual who obtained the order a copy of the original birth certificate with a certification that the copy is a true copy of a record that is no longer a valid certificate of birth.

Where the Information Can Be Located

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services