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No longer unknown: Steps to take to learn your birth history

If you have been following our blog, you know that there are established procedures Florida courts follow in order to release information to adoptive individuals. If you were adopted and are just beginning your search for your birth parents, you may not want to dive headlong into pages of adoption statutes immediately. While it may seem overwhelming to parse the rules designed to protect your birth parents' identities, you may find it helpful to know which information you are legally entitled to review and which information you will need court permission to access. As with most states, the state of Florida will reveal details to adoptive children upon their turning 18 years of age if their birth parents consented to the release of such information.

In your initial search for your birth and genetic history, you should see if you qualify to receive this information:

1. Non-identifying information

Facts that qualify as "non-identifying" include details about the adopted person and the adopted person's birth relatives. Typically, this history is provided to the adoptive parents at the time of adoption. In addition to the date and place of the adoptive person's birth, non-identifying details are usually provided: family, medical and social history. With these details, you may be able to discover your ethnicity, birth parents' religious affiliation, or birth siblings.

2. Identifying information

As is suggested in its name, "identifying information" refers the specific details about the birth parents: last known names and addresses. Since the act of providing this information to the Florida adoption registry is completely voluntary, it is possible that your birth parents may not have consented to have their personal information released. Additionally, facts recorded on the registry are limited to the individuals to whom permission has been granted and may be withdrawn at any time. If the adopted child is less than 18 years old, her request must be coupled with a consent form signed by the adoptive parent.

3. Birth information

If you desire to have a copy of your original birth certificate, you will need a court order to release this document.

Those born in Florida may use a search and consent program to reach out to family members who have not registered their identifying information with the state. This confidential intermediary system will allow adopted children to contact an individual who has been given access to adoptive records for the sole purpose of locating birth relatives.

While the process of obtaining birth information may seem circuitous, you can proceed slowly, using the mental recollections and documents that your adoptive parents provide. In order to determine which type of birth information the state of Florida has on file regarding your history, you may also want to contact a knowledgeable attorney.

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