This color-coded political map indicates how different states have supported or not supported adoptees’ rights to access their original birth certificates. The source of the information comes from Adoptee Rights Law, an organization committed to furthering the rights of American adoptees.
Why is it so important to access original birth certificates? The truth is that adopted people often know they’re adopted and often want answers. This doesn’t mean that they’re rejecting their adoptive family. It’s simply human nature to wonder where your nose or your eyes came from.
Florida law does not provide adult adoptees access to their own original birth certificates, except by court order. Identifying information may be released to an adult adoptee if a birth parent consents to the release or if a court orders the records released for good cause. Florida law provides a list of considerations to determine if good cause exists to release identifying information.
Florida also maintains a mutual consent registry for adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and other birth relatives.
Below are relevant laws regarding adoptees rights in Florida:
Relevant Florida Law: Original Birth Certificates
Florida Statutes § 382.015
The clerk of the court in which any proceeding for adoption, annulment of an adoption, affirmation of parental status, or determination of paternity is to be registered, shall within 30 days after the final disposition, forward to the department a certified copy of the court order, or a report of the proceedings upon a form to be furnished by the department, together with sufficient information to identify the original birth certificate and to enable the preparation of a new birth certificate. The clerk of the court shall implement a monitoring and quality control plan to ensure that all judicial determinations of paternity are reported to the department in compliance with this section. The department shall track paternity determinations reported monthly by county, monitor compliance with the 30-day timeframe, and report the data to the clerks of the court quarterly.
(1) ADOPTION AND ANNULMENT OF ADOPTION.
(a) Upon receipt of the report or certified copy of an adoption decree, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of live birth, and establish a new certificate, the department shall prepare and file a new birth certificate, absent objection by the court decreeing the adoption, the adoptive parents, or the adoptee if of legal age. The certificate shall bear the same file number as the original birth certificate. All names and identifying information relating to the adoptive parents entered on the new certificate shall refer to the adoptive parents, but nothing in the certificate shall refer to or designate the parents as being adoptive. All other items not affected by adoption shall be copied as on the original certificate, including the date of registration and filing.
(b) Upon receipt of the report or certified copy of an annulment-of-adoption decree, together with the sufficient information to identify the original certificate of live birth, the department shall, if a new certificate of birth was filed following an adoption report or decree, remove the new certificate and restore the original certificate to its original place in the files, and the certificate so removed shall be sealed by the department.
(c) Upon receipt of a report or certified copy of an adoption decree or annulment-of-adoption decree for a person born in another state, the department shall forward the report or decree to the state of the registrant’s birth. If the adoptee was born in Canada, the department shall send a copy of the report or decree to the appropriate birth registration authority in Canada.
(2) DETERMINATION OF PATERNITY.
Upon receipt of the report, a certified copy of a final decree of determination of paternity, or a certified copy of a final judgment of dissolution of marriage which requires the former husband to pay child support for the child, together with sufficient information to identify the original certificate of live birth, the department shall prepare and file a new birth certificate, which shall bear the same file number as the original birth certificate. The registrant’s name shall be entered as decreed by the court or as reflected in the final judgment or support order. The names and identifying information of the parents shall be entered as of the date of the registrant’s birth.
(3) AFFIRMATION OF PARENTAL STATUS.
Upon receipt of an order of affirmation of parental status issued pursuant to s. 742.16, together with sufficient information to identify the original certificate of live birth, the department shall prepare and file a new birth certificate which shall bear the same file number as the original birth certificate. The names and identifying information of the registrant’s parents entered on the new certificate shall be the commissioning couple, but the new certificate may not make reference to or designate the parents as the commissioning couple.
(4) SUBSTITUTION OF NEW CERTIFICATE OF BIRTH FOR ORIGINAL.
When a new certificate of birth is prepared, the department shall substitute the new certificate of birth for the original certificate on file. All copies of the original certificate of live birth in the custody of a local registrar or other state custodian of vital records shall be forwarded to the State Registrar. Thereafter, when a certified copy of the certificate of birth or portion thereof is issued, it shall be a copy of the new certificate of birth or portion thereof, except when a court order requires issuance of a certified copy of the original certificate of birth. In an adoption, change in paternity, affirmation of parental status, undetermined parentage, or court-ordered substitution, the department shall place the original certificate of birth and all papers pertaining thereto under seal, not to be broken except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction or as otherwise provided by law.
Except for certificates of foreign birth which are registered as provided in s. 382.017, and delayed certificates of birth which are registered as provided in ss. 382.019 and 382.0195, all original, new, or amended certificates of live birth shall be identical in form, regardless of the marital status of the parents or the fact that the registrant is adopted or of undetermined parentage.
The department shall adopt and enforce all rules necessary for carrying out the provisions of this section.
Relevant Florida Law: Adoption Records/Identifying Information
Florida Code § 63.162
(1) All hearings held in proceedings under this act shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, witnesses, counsel, persons who have not consented to the adoption and are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies who are present to perform their official duties.
(2) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption, including the original birth certificate, whether part of the permanent record of the court or a file in the office of an adoption entity are confidential and subject to inspection only upon order of the court; however, the petitioner in any proceeding for adoption under this chapter may, at the option of the petitioner, make public the reasons for a denial of the petition for adoption. The order must specify which portion of the records are subject to inspection, and it may exclude the name and identifying information concerning the parent or adoptee. Papers and records of the department, a court, or any other governmental agency, which papers and records relate to adoptions, are exempt from s. 119.07(1). In the case of an adoption not handled by the department or a child-placing agency licensed by the department, the department must be given notice of hearing and be permitted to present to the court a report on the advisability of disclosing or not disclosing information pertaining to the adoption. In the case of an agency adoption, the licensed child-placing agency must be given notice of hearing and be permitted to present to the court a report on the advisability of disclosing or not disclosing information pertaining to the adoption. This subsection does not prohibit the department from inspecting and copying any official record pertaining to the adoption that is maintained by the department or from inspecting and copying any of the official records maintained by an agency licensed by the department and does not prohibit an agency from inspecting and copying any official record pertaining to the adoption that is maintained by that agency.
(3) The court files, records, and papers in the adoption of a minor shall be indexed only in the name of the petitioner, and the name of the minor shall not be noted on any docket, index, or other records outside the court file, except that closed agency files may be cross-referenced in the original and adoptive names of the minor.
(4) A person may not disclose from the records the name and identity of a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or an adoptee unless:
(a) The birth parent authorizes in writing the release of his or her name;
(b) The adoptee, if 18 or more years of age, authorizes in writing the release of his or her name; or, if the adoptee is less than 18 years of age, written consent to disclose the adoptee’s name is obtained from an adoptive parent;
(c) The adoptive parent authorizes in writing the release of his or her name; or
(d) Upon order of the court for good cause shown. In determining whether good cause exists, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the adoptee, but must also give due consideration to the interests of the adoptive and birth parents. Factors to be considered in determining whether good cause exists include, but are not limited to:
1. The reason the information is sought;
2. The existence of means available to obtain the desired information without disclosing the identity of the birth parents, such as by having the court, a person appointed by the court, the department, or the licensed child-placing agency contact the birth parents and request specific information;
3. The desires, to the extent known, of the adoptee, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents;
4. The age, maturity, judgment, and expressed needs of the adoptee; and
5. The recommendation of the department, licensed child-placing agency, or professional which prepared the preliminary study and home investigation, or the department if no such study was prepared, concerning the advisability of disclosure.
(5) The adoptee or other person seeking information under this subsection shall pay the department or agency making reports or recommendations as required hereunder a reasonable fee for its services and expenses.
(6) Subject to the provisions of subsection (4), identifying information regarding the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee may not be disclosed unless a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adoptee has authorized in writing the release of such information concerning himself or herself. Specific names or identifying information must not be given in a family medical history. All nonidentifying information, including the family medical history and social history of the adoptee and the birth parents, when available, must be furnished to the adoptive parents before the adoption becomes final and to the adoptee, upon the adoptee’s request, after he or she reaches majority. Upon the request of the adoptive parents, all nonidentifying information obtained before or after the adoption has become final must be furnished to the adoptive parents.
(7) The court may, upon petition of an adult adoptee, for good cause shown, appoint an intermediary or a licensed child-placing agency to contact a birth parent who has not registered with the adoption registry pursuant to s. 63.165 and advise them of the availability of same.