In most States, adoption records are sealed after an adoption is finalized. The adopted person, birth parents, and adoptive parents must follow procedures established by the State to obtain identifying confidential information from the adoption records, but they may be able to obtain nonidentifying information from the agency that arranged the adoption. This section contains resources that address accessing adoption records (including original birth certificates and other vital records) in each State, obtaining adoption records for an intercountry adoption, and finding and maintaining connections from foster care.
For the Records: Restoring a Legal Right for Adult Adopted People (PDF - 247 KB)
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (2007)
Recommends that States provide adopted adults with access to their original birth certificates and/or adoption records.
Where to Write for Vital Records
National Center for Health Statistics
Provides the mailing addresses for obtaining vital records that can aid in searching.
International Social Services
Provides searches for marriage, birth, and death certificates in other countries.
Reciprocity by Country
U.S. Department of State
Provides current, country-specific information regarding how to obtain documents such as birth certificates and other vital records.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Provides a contact that searchers adopted from another country can use to request copies of their immigration records.
Adoption Opportunities Grantees: Improve Permanency Outcomes by Developing Services and Supports for Youth Who Wish to Retain Contact with Family Members
Provides links to nine Children's Bureau grantees and resources they have developed to promote youth permanency, including adoption.
Completing the Circle: Uncovering, Discovering and Creating Connections for Your Foster and Adoptive Children (PDF - 428 KB)
Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (2008)
Designed to help foster and adoptive parents identify, locate, and engage as many caring individuals as possible to support their foster and adoptive children over their lifetime.
Family Search: Reconnecting Youth in Foster Care to Family
Casey Family Services
Connections Count, 2007
Discusses the importance of identifying birth family members and engaging them in case planning with foster youth, as well as exploring the possibility of establishing meaningful and lasting relationships.
Foster Care Alumni
Serves as a central meeting place for people from foster care who wish to connect to each other and to use their experiences to advocate on behalf of foster children.
Designed and written by youth who have experienced the challenges of foster care and homelessness.
Never too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care
Howard & Berzin (2011)
Examines the State and Federal initiatives that focus on older youth in foster care and recommends steps to achieve better outcomes.