Tennessee Adoption Laws

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Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-127; 36-1-128; 36-1-133

Nonidentifying information may be released to:
  • The adoptee who is age 18 or older
  • The adoptive parents or guardian if the adoptee is under age 18
  • The birth parent or legal relatives
  • The lineal descendants of an adoptee
  • The legal representative of any of the above persons

Identifying information is accessible to the following persons:

  • An adoptee who is age 21 or older
  • A birth parent or birth sibling
  • The spouse, lineal ancestor, or lineal descendant of an adoptee
  • The legal representative of any person listed above
Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-133

Upon written request of a person listed above, the department shall release nonidentifying information about the adoptee and such person's birth or legal relatives that may include:
  • The date and time of the child's birth
  • The child's weight and other physical characteristics at birth
  • The age of the adoptee's birth relatives at the time of the child's birth
  • The nationality, ethnic background, race, and religious preference of the birth or legal relatives
  • The educational level, general occupation, and any talents or hobbies of the birth or legal relatives
  • A general physical description of the birth or legal relatives, including height, weight, color of hair, color of eyes, complexion, and other similar information
  • Whether the birth or legal parent had any other children, and if so, any available nonidentifying information about such children
  • Available health history of the adoptee and the person's birth or legal relatives, including specifically, any psychological or psychiatric information that would be expected to have any substantial effect on the adoptee's mental or physical health

The department shall provide the same information described above to prospective adoptive parents with respect to any child or children the prospective adoptive parents are seeking to adopt.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 36-1-128; 36-1-129

The department shall maintain a contact veto registry for permitting registration of the willingness or unwillingness of the persons listed above for contact with persons eligible to have access to records. The registry shall contain the following information:

  • The name of each person who has filed a contact veto or who has given consent for contact
  • The address and telephone number of the person
  • The date and place of birth of the person, if known
  • Any persons whom the person who files a contact veto wishes to exclude from the application of the contact veto
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the person requesting contact
  • The method of contact, if any, to which the person consents, including contact through one or more third parties
  • Any other information that eligible parties wish to release to the other eligible parties

A person eligible to file a contact veto or give consent for contact may notify the department in writing that such person does or does not object to contact being made with such person by any person or group of persons who are eligible to establish contact.

As part of the surrender for adoption, a birth parent or guardian shall indicate whether or not he or she wishes to file a contact veto or give consent for further contact. By filing a contact veto, a person is entitled to notification of any inquiry requesting contact with the filing person.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code § 36-1-130

The original birth certificate is available to parties who have established their eligibility to have access to adoption records.


Department of Children's Services
Post Adoption Unit
436 6th Avenue, NW
8th Floor, Cordell Hull Building
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-1290

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate:

See provisions above under Obtaining Identifying Information.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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