Adoption Records in California: Unlock Your Family History

Adoption records in California are crucial for individuals seeking to understand their biological heritage and medical history. Accessing these records can provide adoptees and birth parents with essential information and insights into their backgrounds.

State Adoption Records Laws in California

California maintains sealed adoption records, but specific provisions allow adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents to access these records under certain conditions. Recent legislative changes have improved access to original birth certificates for adoptees.

Accessing Adoption Records in California

Adoptees over the age of 18 can request their original birth certificates from the California Department of Public Health. Birth parents can update their contact information within the adoption records.

State Agencies and Resources

Adoption Registries

  • California Adoption Registry
  • How to register: Submit a notarized affidavit to the California Department of Public Health.
  • Search process: Matches adoptees with birth parents and siblings if both parties have registered.

Related Article: Can Adopted Children Inherit from Biological Parents?


Additional Resources

Mental Preparations and Mental Health Considerations

Reaching out to biological family members or uncovering the identities of birth parents and adoptees can be an emotional and complex journey.

Here are some mental health considerations:

  • Emotional Readiness: Reflect on your emotional state and readiness before making contact. Be prepared for various possible outcomes and responses.
  • Support System: Surround yourself with a robust support network, including friends, family, or a mental health professional, to help you navigate this process.
  • Setting Expectations: Understand that the responses from biological family members can vary widely. Be prepared for acceptance, rejection, or no response at all.
  • Counseling Services: Seek out counseling services to help process your emotions and experiences. Many adoption organizations provide counseling for adoptees and birth parents.
  • Taking It Slow: Give yourself time to absorb new information and progress gradually in establishing contact.

How long are adoption records sealed in California?

In California, adoption records are generally sealed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. Here is a detailed overview of the sealing and accessibility of adoption records in California:

Sealing of Adoption Records

Adoption records in California are sealed upon the finalization of the adoption. This means that the original birth certificate and other identifying information about the birth parents are not accessible to the public or the adoptive family without a court order.


Related Article: Do Adoption Birth Certificates Look Different? FAQs


Duration of Sealing

Adoption records in California remain sealed indefinitely unless a court orders them to be opened. There is no automatic unsealing of adoption records after a certain period. The records stay confidential to safeguard the privacy of all parties involved.

Accessing Sealed Adoption Records

  • Adoptees: Adoptees who are 18 years of age or older can request non-identifying information from their adoption records. For identifying information, such as the original birth certificate, a court order is required.
  • Birth Parents: Birth parents can access non-identifying information about the adoptee and may request identifying information if the adoptee has consented or if a court order is obtained.
  • Adoptive Parents: Adoptive parents can obtain non-identifying information at any time, which helps in understanding the medical and social background of the child without revealing the birth parents’ identities.

Confidential Intermediary Program

California does not have a mutual consent registry but operates a confidential intermediary program.

This program allows adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents to request the services of a confidential intermediary.

The intermediary can access sealed adoption records and facilitate contact between the parties if both sides consent.

Court Orders

To obtain a court order to unseal adoption records, the requesting party must typically demonstrate a compelling reason to the court.

The court will consider the interests and rights of all parties involved before granting access to sealed adoption records.

Final Thoughts

In California, adoption records remain sealed indefinitely to protect the privacy of all parties involved.

However, adoptees and birth parents have avenues to access both non-identifying and identifying information through confidential intermediaries and court orders.

Accessing adoption records in California can offer significant insights into personal and medical histories, enriching the lives of those involved.

By utilizing available resources and considering the emotional aspects, individuals can approach this journey with confidence and support.

For further assistance, contacting the California Department of Social Services or consulting with an adoption attorney is recommended.