How can I get my Original Birth Certificate if I was adopted?

Obtaining your birth certificate is a relatively straightforward process. You just have to complete your state’s birth certificate form, pay the state fees, mail it and, you will receive your certified copy at home. However, things get a little more tricky if you were adopted and want to obtain your original birth certificate.

Adoption records are usually sealed. Once the adoption process is finalized the original birth certificate is sealed along with the other adoption papers, and an amended birth certificate is issued in its place with the adoptive parents’ names, and the child’s new name in case it changed.

How to get an Original Birth Certificate after Adoption

When a child is born, the county or state of birth issues an original birth certificate (OBC) with date and time of birth, place of birth and parents’ names. An OBC is then given to the birth parents.

When a child is adopted, the adoptive parents will receive an amended birth certificate (ABC), which will contain new information that will reflect the adoption. Typically most of the information remains the same as the original, but replaces the birth parents’ names with those of the adoptive parents, as well as the child’s name, if changed during the adoption process.

The adoption papers will be used to create a new birth record, that will list the new adopted information, like the names and information of the adoptive parent(s) as the legal parents of the child. Other details that may be changed in an ABC include the child's date, time, and place of birth date, depending on the circumstances of the birth. All information regarding the biological parents will be removed from the official record.

The original birth certificate, along with the other adoption records, is sealed by the court. This makes it very difficult for adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.

Original Birth Certificates after Adoption Requests

If you want to obtain your amended birth certificate after adoption, you can request it simply by completing the online form, paying the government fees and submitting it to your birth state’s Vital Records office. However, adult adoptees do not have automatic access to their sealed original birth certificates. If you want to obtain your original birth certificate you will need to access your sealed adoption records.

Because each state, and county is different, your first step should be to contact the county office clerk where the adoption took place to learn how you can access your sealed adoption papers. Once you understand the regulations, you will be required to complete a petition form to get a court order to obtain your records.

If your petition is approved a court date will be set and you will need to explain to a judge why you need to access your adoption records (reasons given must be related to an emergency rather than to a personal basis, i.e. medical reasons.) If granted access you may then view the information and request a copy of your original birth certificate.

What is an adoption certificate?

Whenever a child is born in the United States, an original birth certificate is issued. The birth certificate will include the date of the birth, the time, and the parent’s names. However, when a child is adopted, an amended birth certificate (ABC) is issued. This adoption certificate can show all of the information of the original certificate, but it will replace the birth parent’s names with those of the adoptive parents. On the adoption certificate the name given at birth will be replaced with the new name, if the adoptive parents decide to change it.

The original birth certificate will be placed with other adoption records and the file will be sealed by the court. Generally, this original birth certificate will not be available to the adopted person.

Nowadays, however, several adoptions are open adoptions. This means that information between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees is shared and accessible. Bear in mind that only the adopted person, birth parents, or adoptive parents can file to access adoption records that are sealed.

It is important to note that each state has different levels of adoption information accessibility to adult adoptees. To obtain adoption records, the adoptee is advised to check the process in their county.

Generally speaking, the adoption certificate is the one adoptees will use throughout their lives to enroll in school, to get a driver’s license, apply for a passport, etc.

What does an adoption birth certificate look like?

An adoption birth certificate will look like any other birth certificate, and is just as valid for all the purposes a birth certificate is required. It will include all the details necessary to prove your identity. The certificate will have the adoptive parents names, the adoptee name, their place and time of birth.

The adoption birth certificate will allow you to enroll in university, apply for a U.S. passport, get married, and more.

Is an adoption certificate the same as a birth certificate?

While an adoption certificate can be used as a birth certificate, they are not exactly the same. The main difference is that an adoption certificate is issued after an individual has been adopted. This is because, often, the adoptive parents names will replace the birth parents names, especially in closed adoptions.

Besides this difference, research shows that some states have been known to modify other details when issuing and amended birth certificate. States like Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina often change the place of birth and replace it with the residence of the adoptive parents, even if it differs from the actual place of birth. Although they are not common, in some occasions, these changes can also include the date of birth.

The amended birth certificate or adoption certificate serves the same role as a regular birth certificate and can now be easily obtained by completing an online application.

What happens to original birth certificate after adoption?

In a great number of states in the U.S. after a child has been legally adopted, the original birth certificate is sealed and no longer available. A few states do not allow an individual access to their original birth certificate even when they are 18 years of age.

State laws vary, but as we have explained, on several occasions portions about the biological parents will be changed.

The sealing of the original birth certificate and the issuing of an amended version is done so that no one will know that the child is adopted when looking at the documents. It is possible to request that certain information on the amended certificate remain the same as on the original birth certificate. This will vary in each state.

Amendment of the birth certificate

The amending of a birth certificate is part of the adoption process. Once the judge has approved the adoption application, and the process has been finalized, the state will issue a new birth certificate. Usually it can take time for an adoption birth certificate to be issued, sometimes, up to a year.

How to Access to the Original Birth Certificate

Several people who have been adopted might be interested in having access to their original birth certificate. Whether an individual can have access to their original birth certificate or not will depend on the state and other circumstances. Many states will seal the original certificate after the adoption has been successful. In other states, adoptees can access their original birth certificate after they turn 18. Meanwhile, in some states, the adoptee needs to petition the court to get a copy of their original birth certificate. In most cases, judges only grant the request to unseal the original birth certificate if the adoptee can demonstrate that they have a valid and compelling reason for the unsealing. A compelling reason could be related to medical reasons. Judges are more likely to grant the unsealing of an original birth certificate if the biological parents are deceased.

If the state in which an adoptee was born keeps their records open, it is much easier for adoptees to access their birth certificates.

When a child is adopted, is the birth certificate changed?

When a child is adopted, the birth certificate is more often than not, changed. It is worth noting that there are closed adoptions and open adoptions. Currently, closed adoptions are rare in the United States but are common in international adoptions. When an adoption is closed, the files are physically sealed. The adoptee might be able to request access to their original birth certificate, but how easy this process is will depend on the state’s laws.

The open adoption process means that the adoptive parents meet the birth parents, and in many instances, they remain in touch. The openness of an adoption will vary depending on all the parties involved. In open adoptions, the birth parents tend to have a voice in choosing the family their child will go to.

As a general rule, when a child is adopted, the birth certificate will be amended to include the adoptive parents names.

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