Sealing of adoption records began in the 1930’s. It was purportedly to protect the privacy of all involved, with the adoptees being the main concern especially if they were not told of the truth of their identity. However, there are instances when unsealing of the adoption records is necessary. Sometimes an adoptee needs to know his genetic history to help him make a medical decision. In other cases, the adoptee simply wants to know who he really is. Unsealing adoption records is a legal process, and if you are an adoptee and you want to go through this process, here’s what you should do.
- Make sure you are of legal age to request for the unsealing of the adoption records. Only adoptees at least 21 years of age are legally allowed to have access to their records. If you are younger than 21, you can have your birthparents represent you. Or wait a few more years until you reach the legal age.
- Find out where adoption occurred. The first thing you need to do is know where the adoption process was settled. This will then lead you to the court that handled the adoption. You can also contact the adoption agency that intermediated between your birthparents and adoptive parents. Remember, however, that some states have no law on unsealing adoption records, and as such, your pursuit may end up fruitless. In some states, unsealing of adoption records is allowed, but will take a few months to complete.
- Hire a lawyer. Although you can go through the process on your own, hiring a lawyer can back you up and walk you through the legal process. He will also help you make the best legal argument on why you want to access your record.
- File a petition. When you have already found where the adoption process was done, go to the county court and file a petition. Filing a petition involves filling out a form. You have to supply your name, birthday, names of your adoptive parents, reason for unsealing the adoption records, and other important details. The petition will be reviewed, and a few weeks after, a hearing will be staged.
- Attend the hearing. Although your presence will not be generally required, it is best to show up at the hearing. This will put you in a good light and will show your great desire of accessing your adoption records.
- Accept whatever the judge’s decision is. There are two possible endings to your pursuit: The judge ruling in your favor or the judge denying your petition. If your reason for accessing your adoption file has merits, like the use of adoption information for medical reasons, your petition has great chances of being approved. If not, your petition will be denied. In any case, try to accept the court’s decision and find other means to get access to your past and identity.
Having a confidential intermediary is your other option. It is a third party who can gain access to your adoption files and birthparents without revealing their and your identities. This type of setup is allowed in many states.