laws and procedures have varied over time, and many states did not have a formal
procedure until the mid to late 1880s. Before that time, many adoptions were
informal. The child may have been
placed with relatives, or an apprenticeship arranged.
records are confidential in most states. State laws differ in how they handle
access to information in sealed adoption records. If you know in which state the
adopted person was born, you may contact the courts in that state to find out
what the laws are pertaining to adoption rights. If you have little or no
information on the birth family, perhaps your state has a Confidential
Intermediary Program (CIP). This program trains, certifies, and monitors
confidential intermediaries who can gain access to closed records. The
intermediary contacts the people involved to see if they are willing to make
contact with the adoptee. This also works for parents looking for their adopted
may want to join a triad organization (triad refers to the adoptee, birth
family, and adoptive family). These organizations are active in many cities
around the United States and provide information and support to people searching
for adoption records. Go to www.adoptiontriad.org/
to learn more about these organizations.
states now allow access to portions of the adoption record, for instance,
medical information. Some states
have open records after a period of time - say 100 years. In some states the adoptee must request the records in
person. A good reference book on adoption is:
Lori. The Ultimate Search Book: Worldwide
Adoption and Vital Records. Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1999.
on a modern adoption is best done by a researcher who lives in the area where
the adoption took place. Cyndi's List
has links to many adoption sites that are specific to localities. Other
links include mailing lists, news groups, volunteers, support groups, etc. If
your adoption took place in Arizona, Daniela and Janna will be glad to put you
in touch with a confidential intermediary or a triad organization. We may
be able to check newspapers, high school yearbooks, and other public records to
Me! Find a Confidential Intermediary Program in my state?
Me! Tell me the name of the newspaper in my city in which I might
find a published birth record for a particular year?
To ask these or
similar questions, click on Help Me!, fill
out the form that comes up, and submit your questions.