Adoption Records – California Department of Social Services

What can you get? From: Adoption Records – California Department of Social Services

  • You may be able to obtain a copy of the adoption record that is maintained by the superior court by filing a petition, under California Family Code 9200, in the clerk’s office of the county superior court where the adoption was finalized.
  • Adoptees, Birth Parents, Siblings of Adoptees are you looking for one another?

Are you an adoptee who wants to identify the name of your birth mother? Your first thought may be to obtain your original birth certificate. These are kept under seal by the California Department of Public Health and are not released except by court order. Similarly, the adoption file that has the name of the birth mother is confidential.

Is it possible to get court authorization to open the adoption file? The Department of Social Services website offers faint hope to adoptees, birth parents or adoptive family who seek to obtain the adoption file: “You must show good and compelling cause for the granting of the order. It is at the sole discretion of the court as to whether any documents from the adoption record will be released.” Most courts will not grant the petition except for particular medical conditions. But this is not a hopeless situation and the possibility for finding family members through alternative means is still good. You can hire a professional researcher or, if you first want to pursue this on your own, here are some recommended actions:

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