How to Look up Adoption Records for Free

Written by laura nowak
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While many children benefit from adoption, adult adoptees often wonder about their roots and birth family. Depending on what state you live in, adoptees may have easier access to opening their records. In most states, adoptees must wait until they are of age, and must start researching their past through their adoption agencies.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Research your state's adoption laws regarding opening records. Only a few (7 out of 50) states now have an open record policy, while several others are semi-open with restrictions (see Resources below).

  2. 2

    Contact the agency that processed your adoption for your non-identifying information. If you do not know which agency it was, contact the circuit court closest to your adoptive parents; they can get you the proper information. Depending on the state you live in, you must be 18 or 25 years old before they will release these details to you.

  3. 3

    Comb the non-indentifying information--which may contain details about the location of the birth, physical appearances of the birth parents and medical history up to your birth--for anything that may help.

  4. 4

    Register on the state registry, and when both parties have registered and consented, the rest of your identifying information, including your original birth certificate, may be released (see Resources below).

Tips and warnings

  • If you are in a state with closed records, don't despair--there are plenty of registries.

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