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Adoption Search

The Virginia Department of Social Services maintains a permanent record for all adoptions finalized in Virginia since July 1, 1942. There may be a time that adoptees and birth family members decide to search for each other or request information about the adoption. The Code of Virginia § § 63.2-1246 and 63.2-1247 identify parties who may search as well as who may have access to the information from the adoption record.

What is adoption disclosure?

Adoption disclosure is the release of information from the adoption record, either non-identifying or identifying information.

What is non-identifying information from the adoption record?

Non-identifying information may include information about the circumstances surrounding placement, any known medical history at that time, birth family's social history, and legal documents. It does not include the names of birth family members or trace information that could lead to their identity such as date of birth or addresses.

Who can receive non-identifying information?

Adoptees may submit an Adoptee Application for Disclosure to request non-identifying information from the adoption record once they turn 18 years of age.

Adoptive parents may submit an Adoptive Parent Application for Disclosure to request non-identifying information from the adoption record regardless of the adoptee's age.

I only need proof that I was adopted, how do I obtain a certified copy of the Final Order of Adoption?

The circuit court can only provide you with a certified copy of the Final Order of Adoption. Virginia Department of Social Services can provide a copy of the Final Order of Adoption that redacts your birth family's identifying information as well as your birth name. To receive a redacted copy of your Final Order of Adoption, complete an Adoptee Application for Disclosure and request non-identifying information-final order only. You will need to check with the agency that is requesting proof of your adoption to see if this will suffice.

What is identifying information?

Identifying information is the information that will lead to the identification of your birth family such as names, contact information, or date of birth.

Who can search?

Adoptees may search for their birth parents and adult birth siblings when they turn 18 years old by submitting an Adoptee Application for Disclosure.

Adoptive parents of a minor child may search for birth parents and adult birth siblings when the adoption was finalized after July 1, 1994 by submitting an Adoptive Parent Application for Disclosure.

Birth parents may search if the adoption was finalized after July 1, 1994 and the adoptee is at least 21 years old by submitting a Birth Parent Application for Disclosure.

Adult birth siblings may search for an adult adoptee that is a least 21 years old when the adoption was finalized after July 1, 1994 by submitting an Adult Birth Sibling Application for Disclosure.

I'm the birth parent or adult birth sibling of an adoptee whose adoption was finalized prior to July 1, 1994, what information may I receive about the adoptee?

Birth family members cannot complete a search for the adoptee when the adoption was finalized prior to July 1, 1994. Birth family members may send letters and their contact information by submitting a Relative Update to an Adoption Record form. The adoptee will receive the information in the event that the adoptee requests information from the adoption record.

Is there a cost?

Virginia law allows agencies to charge a reasonable fee for adoption disclosure. You will discuss the fees with the agency once your application is processed.

How long does the adoption disclosure process take?

Once an Application for Adoption Disclosure to Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) is submitted, VDSS has 30 days to designate an agency to process your application. The agency will then have 90 days to complete your request. There may be times that the agency is waiting to hear back from you or birth family members and an extension may be granted.

I'm a descendant or spouse of an adoptee, what information may I obtain?

In Virginia, adoption records are sealed when the adoption is finalized and family members are not permitted to inspect a relative's adoption record.

I was adopted and born in Virginia. How do I access my original birth certificate?

Although Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) preserves adoption records, VDSS does not maintain original birth certificates. The Department of Health Vital Records maintains original birth certificates. Accessing your original birth certificate will require a court order or the Commissioner of VDSS approval. See Virginia Department of Health's website for more information.

Why do I have an amended birth certificate?

Virginia law requires the Department of Health State Registrar to establish a new birth certificate for a person born in Virginia when the adoption is finalized. The original birth certificate is then sealed.

I was adopted in Virginia, but born in another state. How do I access my original birth certificate?

Virginia Department of Social Services only maintains your adoption record and not your original birth certificate. Contact Vital Records in the state where you were born to learn about the process of accessing your original birth certificate.

Can I share critical medical information?

Critical medical information is shared when a physician or licensed mental health provider submits a written statement indicating that it is critical that medical, psychological, or genetic information be shared and states the reasons why it is necessary to share this information. Confidentiality of all parties is maintained when the information is exchanged.

Adult adoptees and adoptive parents can request that an attempt be made by the agency that was involved in the adoption to convey critical medical, psychological, and genetic information to birth parents or birth siblings.

Birth parents and adult birth siblings can also request that an attempt be made by the agency that was involved in the adoption to convey critical medical, psychological, and genetic information to the adoptee.

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