An Adult Adoptee’s Right to an Original Birth Certificate

Posted on April 10th, 2011 by David R. Ford

Only 10 states currently have laws that give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate (much less full access to their adoption records): Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee).  Two more (Connecticut and Rhode Island) have legislation pending, and there are efforts underway in others to give adoptees this right to basic information.

There are honorable arguments for and against granting adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate—as opposed to the second one issued for them, naming their adoptive parents in place of their birth parents.  The American Adoption Congress ( strongly supports access, while the National Council for Adoption ( takes the opposite view.  I personally support the efforts of the American Adoption Congress.

An Adoption File Full of Holes

Posted on April 7th, 2011 by David R. Ford

Back in the mid-1980’s, I had finally worked up the nerve to call the Virginia state agency that had my adoption records.  I knew that Virginia treated those records as confidential, but hoped that I might be able to get even a little bit of information that would help me in my search for my birth family.

The bureaucrat I finally spoke with seemed cold; maybe it was just because she got so many calls like mine, from people asking for something she couldn’t give them.  But I was surprised that she said I could have sanitized versions of my records, even though she told me there wouldn’t be much of interest in them.  The “sanitized” part would be anything that might identify my birth parents, which she said would be cut from the documents.