Adopted Children Are Gaining Easier Access To Birth Records

When we see family lawyers in the news, it is often in cases of divorce and child custody, but just as often, it can be in cases of adoption or paternity.

This month, an interesting addition to the world of adoption law showed up in the press.

Most states require adopted children to obtain a court order to access their birth records. Once adoptees turn 18, generally they can file a court order to find the birth records in that state. The privacy laws tend to act in favor of the biological parents, allowing them to retain their anonymity even after the children are grown, by default.

In recent years, however, states are allowing these adult adoptees to seek the hospital records of their births without any kind of court order.

Missouri just became the latest state to clear the way for adopted children to access their birth records, according to the Herald-Whig.

The Missouri Catholic Conference’s general counsel, Tyler McClay, voiced his group’s opposition to this change. Given the Catholic Conference’s advocacy of adoption, the fact that the church promised privacy and discretion to the biological parents who chose adoption makes this decision controversial.

“We made this promise to birth mothers back in the day, and we wanted to honor that,” said McClay in an interview with

Missouri will keep some safeguards in place to keep the birth parents’ identities private, but the adoptees themselves will now have full access to those records, and will require no court intervention to enable access.

Of course, we will continue to follow these changes as other states look into them, including the state of Ohio.

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