California Adoption Laws

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Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Fam. Code § 9203

Identifying information is available to:
  • The adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • The birth parent of an adult adoptee
  • The adoptive parent of an adoptee who is under age 21
Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8706; 8817

Nonidentifying information about the birth parents and adoptee, such as medical history, scholastic information, psychological evaluations, and developmental history, is provided to the adopting parents.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Fam. Code §§ 9201; 9203; 9205; 9206

The adoptee who is 21 or older may request the release of the identity of his or her birth parents and their most current address shown in the records of the department or licensed adoption agency if the birth parent or parents have indicated consent to the disclosure in writing.

The birth parent may request disclosure of the name and most current address of the adoptee if the adoptee is age 21 or older and has indicated in writing that he or she wishes his or her name and address to be disclosed.

The adoptive parent of an adoptee under age 21 may request disclosure of the identity of a birth parent and the birth parent's most current address shown in the records if the department or licensed adoption agency finds that a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstances justify the disclosure.

If an adult adoptee and the birth parents have each filed a written consent with the department or licensed adoption agency, the department or agency may arrange for contact between those persons.

Information about a birth sibling may be released to another sibling provided both are age 21 or older and have provided a written waiver.

Photos or letters and other personal property may be released upon request if the adoptee is age 18 or older and other conditions have been met.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Health & Safety Code § 102705

The original birth certificate is available only by order of the court.

Where the Information Can Be Located

  • California Department of Social Services, Adoptions Support Unit
  • The licensed agency involved in the adoption
California Department of Social Services
Adoption Branch
744 P Street, MS 19-31
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 322-3778

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (

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