How to Get your Birth Certificate if you are 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.

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