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FOR THE RECORDS II: An Examination of the History and Impact


An Examination of the History and Impact

Of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates

Policy & Practice Perspective

July 2010

Funded and Prepared by: The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

This paper examines the most current evidence related to restoring adult adoptee access to original birth certificates, updating the Adoption Institute’s 2007 For the Records report.

A lengthy examination and analysis of the arguments on both sides of the debate leads to these primary findings:

  • Barring adopted adults from access to their original birth certificates wrongly denies them a right enjoyed by all others in our country, and is not in their best interests for personal and medical reasons.

  • Alternative solutions to providing adopted adults access to their OBCs, such as mutual consent registries, are ineffective and do not adequately address the needs of adopted persons.

  • The overwhelming majority of birthmothers do not want to remain anonymous to the children they relinquished for adoption and support (or do not oppose) those children’s access to their OBCs.

  • Providing adult adoptees with access to their original birth certificates does not threaten the integrity of adoptive families or the institution of adoption; indeed, the evidence suggests that the opposite is the case.

  • In other countries and in U.S. states that have restored adopted adults’ access to OBCs, or never sealed these records at all, there is no evidence of any of the significant negative consequences critics predict.

Based on these findings, the Adoption Institute recommends significant changes in current adoption law and policy in order to restore adopted persons’ rights to information about their origins and heritage – and to achieve equality for the members of all families, regardless of how they are formed.

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1 Comment

May 12, 2023

I'm at a brick wall as my adoption records do not list my birth parents names, only my adoptive parents names as the mother and father. This is so unfair to me.

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