Obtaining Original Birth Certificates and Other Records After Adoption

In Utah, it is extremely difficult for an adoptee to obtain any records related to their birth or adoption—including the adoptee’s original birth certificate—because these records are sealed following an adoption. An adoptee will literally have to wait 100 years before the records are unsealed. However, an adoptee in Utah can petition the court to order the Department of Health to allow inspection and/or copying of those records in certain circumstances.

The adoptee must establish that there is “good cause” to allow the adoptee to inspect and/or copy birth or adoption records. Unfortunately, Utah courts have not given any examples of what constitutes “good cause.” The most common example from other states is the adoptee’s need to gather familial genetic or medical history for the purpose of diagnosing or treating a serious medical condition. “Good cause” may exist where the adoptee is attempting to establish the right to inherit from the adoptee’s deceased birth parents. Another example may be to verify an adoptee’s ethnic background to take advantage of educational or other kinds of benefits that would not otherwise be available to the adoptee.

Additionally, federal law allows native or indigenous adoptees to obtain information without meeting this “good cause” standard. “The Indian Child Welfare Act” provides that once reaching the age of 18, a native or indigenous adoptee is entitled to obtain any and all information “that may be necessary to protect any rights flowing from the individual’s tribal relationship.”

If you need help gaining access to sealed birth or adoption records, please call me at (801) 365-1022 or e-mail me at chase@snjlegal.com to discuss your case.

Skoubye, Nielson, Johansen Attorneys Salt Lake City Utah

Chase B. Ames

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