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Obtaining Non-Identifying Information:
Adopted adults age 18 or older and adoptive parents of adoptees younger than 18 may request non-identifying information from the adoption agency or from the government department that joined in the adoption petition. If the request is denied, the party seeking information may petition the court in which the adoption was finalized. Birth parents can receive information on the status of the adoption and the adoptive parents at time of placement.

Obtaining Identifying Information:
If the adoption was finalized on or after January 1, 1984, the adopted adult age 18 or older can receive information on the birth parents if the birth parents have given written consent to the disclosure. Birth parents can receive information on an adopted adult age 21 or older if the adopted adult has given written consent to disclosure. Disclosures are filed with the adoption agency or the government agency that joined in the adoption petition. Adoptive parents of a person younger than 21 can receive information on the birth parents if there is a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstances that justify the disclosure according to the State Department of Social Services or licensed adoption agency. If the adoption was finalized before January 1, 1984, with consent of both requesting parties, the agency shall arrange contact between the birth parents and adopted adult. The agency shall release the names and addresses of birth siblings age 21 or older to one another if the birth siblings have filed consent.

Consent Program:
California does not have a mutual consent registry. However, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) operates a statewide Consent Program for adoptees (age 18 and over), birth parents, and siblings of adoptees who are 21 years of age or older. The Program is only for adoptions finalized in California and the specified parties may participate by submitting a Consent For Contact form (for adoptees and birth parents), or a Waiver of Rights to Confidentiality of Adoption Records For Siblings. You may obtain these forms by contacting CDSS at (916) 322-3778, or by contacting your local licensed public or private adoption agency. Upon receipt of a notarized consent form from an adoptee and a birth parent, or a notarized waiver form from an adoptee and a sibling, CDSS or the licensed adoption agency which handled the adoption can disclose the names and last known addresses of both parties so they may directly contact each other. CDSS and adoption agencies are prohibited by law from soliciting consents or waivers, and do not provide search services to adoptees, birth parents or siblings.

California Department of Social Services
Adoption Branch
744 P Street, MS 19-31
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 322-3778

Providing Information:
The Department or licensed agency shall release any letters, photographs, or other items of personal property in its possession to an adopted adult age 18 or older, birth parents, or adoptive parents of an adoptee under 18 upon written request. Identifying information will be deleted.

Obtaining an Original Birth Certificate:
An adoptee must petition the court in which the adoption was finalized.

See also: Open Counties [some counties will release identifying birth information to adoptive parents]

Search Resources for this State

Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. Reprinted with permission.

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