Access to Adoption Records - Texas

Date: December 2019

Who May Access Information

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 162.0162; 162.406

Nonidentifying information may be provided to the following:

  • The adoptive parents
  • The adult adoptee

Identifying information may be accessed by the following:

  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • A birth parent
  • An alleged father who acknowledges paternity
  • A birth sibling who is age 18 or older

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Fam. Code § 162.0162

The prospective adoptive parents of a child are entitled to examine the records and other information relating to the history of the child. The Department of Family and Protective Services, licensed child-placing agency, or other person placing the child for adoption shall edit the records and information to protect the identity of the birth parents and any other person whose identity is confidential. If a child is placed with a prospective adoptive parent prior to adoption, the prospective adoptive parent is entitled to examine any record or other information relating to the child's health history. The records must include any records relating to an investigation of abuse in which the child was an alleged or confirmed victim of sexual abuse while residing in a foster home or other residential child care facility.

If the prospective adoptive parents of a child have reviewed the health, social, educational, and genetic history report for the child and indicated that they want to proceed with the adoption, the department may, but is not required to, allow the prospective adoptive parents to examine the records and other information relating to the history of the child, unless the prospective adoptive parents request the child's case record. The department shall provide the child's case record to the prospective adoptive parents on their request.

The adoptive parents and the adopted child, after the child is an adult, are entitled to receive copies of the records that have been edited to protect the identity of the birth parents and any other person whose identity is confidential and other information relating to the history of the child maintained by the department, licensed child-placing agency, person, or entity placing the child for adoption. It is the duty of the person or entity placing the child for adoption to edit the records and information to protect the identity of the birth parents and any other person whose identity is confidential.

At the time an adoption order is rendered, the court shall provide to the parents of an adopted child information provided by the Vital Statistics Unit that describes the functions of the voluntary adoption registry under subchapter E. The licensed child-placing agency shall provide to each of the child's birth parents known to the agency the information when the parent signs an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights or affidavit of waiver of interest in a child. The information shall include the right of the child or birth parent to refuse to participate in the registry. If the adopted child is age 14 or older, the court shall provide the information to the child.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 162.407; 162.413; 162.414; 162.416

The persons listed above may register with a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry. A registration remains in effect until the 99th anniversary of the date the registration is accepted, unless a shorter period is specified by the applicant or the registration is withdrawn. A registrant may withdraw his or her registration in writing at any time.

The applicant must participate in counseling for not less than 1 hour with a social worker or mental health professional with expertise in postadoption counseling before the release of confidential information.

The administrator shall process each registration in an attempt to match the adoptee, the birth parents, and the birth siblings. The administrator shall determine that there is a match if the adult adoptee and the birth mother, father, or sibling has registered.

When a match has been made, the administrator shall mail to each registrant a written notice that does the following:

  • Informs the registrant that a match has been made
  • Reminds the registrant that he or she may withdraw the registration before disclosures are made, if desired
  • Notifies the registrant that before any identifying disclosures are made, he or she must sign a written consent and participate in counseling

Identifying information about a registrant shall be released without the registrant's having consented to disclosure after the match if the registrant is dead, his or her registration was valid at the time of death, and he or she had in writing specifically authorized the postdeath disclosure. Identifying information about a deceased birth parent may not be released until each surviving child is an adult or until each child's surviving parent or guardian consents in writing to the disclosure.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Health & Safety Code § 192.008

An adult adoptee who is applying for access to the person's original birth certificate and who knows the identity of each parent named on the original birth certificate is entitled to a noncertified copy of the original birth certificate without obtaining a court order.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Texas Vital Statistics Central Adoption Registry