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  • U.S. Vital records (ie: birth, death, marriage and divorce records) are controlled by state government vital records offices. 

  • Each state controls how the vital records of its citizen are issued, stored, accessed, archived. 

  • To access vital records, pertaining to oneself or a family member, one must request a copy from the vital records office in the state where the event occurred.

Vital Records Basics

  • Only ten states (as of March 2020) currently provide adult adoptees with unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates. (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island.  (Alaska and Kansas never placed a permanent seal on adoptees' OBCs).

  • The remainder of states have some form of restricted access placing numerous conditions on an adult adoptees' ability to obtain their OBCs.  The laws vary widely from state-to-state and some are complex.  Such conditions may include a court order, date of adoption, consent of birth parents, redaction of birth parents' names, registration in a state-run mutual consent registry. 

  • Click here to learn more about the laws concerning OBC access in your state.

  • Non-Identifying information (relevant to adoption) is any information that does not disclose the identity of the birth parent(s).  Information such as birth parent(s) names, dates of birth addresses, and phone numbers are withheld making it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to discover their identities.   

  • Non-ID is usually compiled by a social worker or other appointed professional during the time of the pregnancy via interview with the birth mother (and in some instances other family members as well). 

  • Non-ID may include a physical description of the birth parents, their hobbies, interests, professions, notable health information, ethnicity, religious affiliation, education level circumstances of the pregnancy, personality and demeanor, etc.  Sometimes information is also included about the adoptees' grandparents.   

  • Sometimes Non-ID is sparse (ie: "Your birth mother was 18 at the time of your birth,  She was 5'5, 120 lbs, had brown hair, brown eyes, and enjoyed singing in her High School chorus.  No information was provided about your natural father.") and sometimes Non-ID is pages long and very detailed.

  • Sometimes Non-ID is falsified by the birth mother, attorney, adoption agency, social worker for the purpose of protecting the birth mother's anonymity and ensuring that the child may never find their family of origin.

  • Alternatively, Non-ID may be correct and bear clues that make reunion possible...though Non-ID on it's own is seldom enough.  It can be extremely helpful when used in conjunction with DNA testing to solve adoption search cases.

  •  Click here to learn about how to send for your Non-ID.    

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