Access to Adoption Records - West Virginia

Date: December 2019

Who May Access Information

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-601; 48-23-402

Nonidentifying information may be provided to the following:

  • The adoptive parents or, in the event of death of the adoptive parents, the child's guardian
  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • The birth parent

If the adoptee is deceased, nonidentifying information may be provided to the following:

  • The adoptee's spouse if he or she is the legal parent of the adoptee's child or the guardian of any child of the adoptee
  • Any progeny of the adoptee who is age 18 or older

Identifying information may be obtained through the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry by the following:

  • The birth parent when the child is age 18 or older
  • The adult adoptee except when there is a sibling in his or her adoptive family who is under age 18

Access to Nonidentifying Information

Citation: Ann. Code § 48-23-601

Prior to placement for adoption, the agency shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents a detailed written health history and genetic and social history of the child. These histories must exclude information that would identify birth parents or members of a birth parent's family.

Records containing such nonidentifying information shall be retained by the clerk of the court for 99 years, and shall be available upon request, together with any additional nonidentifying information that may have been added on health or genetic and social history, to any person listed above.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-501 through 48-23-504; 48-22-702

The adult adoptee and each birth parent may register by submitting an affidavit to the registry. The failure of any person to file with the registry for any reason, including death or disability, precludes the disclosure of identifying information to those persons who do register.

Upon registering, the registrant must participate in no less than 1 hour of counseling with a social worker.

In any case where the identity of the birth father was unknown to the birth mother, or one or both of the birth parents are deceased, this information shall be shared with the adult adoptee. In these cases, the adoptee will not be able to obtain identifying information through the registry.

The affidavit must include, if known, the following:

  • The current name and address and any previous name by which the person was known
  • The child's original and adopted names
  • The place and date of the child's birth
  • The name and address of the agency that placed the child

The administrator of the registry shall process each affidavit in an attempt to match the adoptee and the birth parents. There is a match when the adult adoptee and the birth parent have each registered and received the required counseling. When a match has taken place, the department shall directly notify all parties through a direct and confidential contact.

If an adoptee or a parent of a minor adoptee cannot obtain identifying information by use of the registry, identifying information may be sought by petitioning the court. If the court is unable to obtain consent from either of the birth parents, the court may release identifying information to the adoptee if at a hearing the court finds there is evidence of compelling medical or other good cause for release of such identifying information.

Access to Original Birth Certificate

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-5-18

The State registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in West Virginia when he or she receives a certificate of adoption or a certified copy of the order of adoption, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish a new certificate of birth.

A new certificate of birth shall show the actual city, county, and date of birth, if known, and shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth on file. The original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption may be inspected only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, except as provided by legislative rule or as otherwise provided by State law.

Where the Information Can Be Located

West Virginia Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry