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Governor’s Office


Search, Contact and Reunion

What adoption records are available in Maryland?

There are three different entities that can finalize an adoption in Maryland.

They are:

Departments of Social Services (public)
Licensed Child Placement Agencies (private)
Independent (private)

Regardless of the type of adoption, when an adoption is finalized the child’s original birth certificate and all legal documents pertaining to the adoption are “impounded”. The Court where the adoption was finalized holds all the legal documents. The Bureau of Vital Statistics holds the original birth certificate. The court records do not usually contain any social or medical information about the child or the birth family and rarely if ever include a copy of the original birth certificate.

DHR is authorized to facilitate public adoptions at local departments of social services offices and licensed child placement agencies throughout the state. These agencies must maintain copies of the adoption records. Older public adoption records are housed in the Maryland State Archives.

Independent or private adoptions are handled through physicians, private agencies, relatives, attorneys or other individuals connected to the birth or adoptive family. Because of client confidentiality issues, attorneys often destroy adoption records when they retire or leave their practice. In the event of an agency closing, adoption records may be forward to Maryland State Archives, or destroyed. This occurrence could mean that the information needed to reconstruct the case may not be available.

What information will be available?

It is standard practice to gather all available information relevant to the placement of a child in an adoptive home.

Details could include: social and medical background on the birth family; facts regarding the birth mother’s pregnancy or the child’s birth; the circumstances which led to the placement, and information about the adopting family. Copies of legal documents may also be included. In some instances, the files may contain correspondence received after the adoption from the birth family, the adoptive parents or the adoptee. How is non-identifying or medical information obtained?

  • If social services were involved in an adoption, post-adoption services are available to members of the adoption triad which include: adoptees, adoptive parents and birth family members. Any triad member may seek non-identifying medical and social background information from the local department. This is usually defined as descriptive information, such as: physical characteristics, education, health, nationality, etc., from their case files. This service is available to those involved in an adoption where the child was in the custody of the local department. This information can be obtained for a nominal fee.
  • If a Maryland licensed child placement agency was involved in the adoption, the triad members may request non-identifying medical and social background information. This is usually defined as descriptive information, such as: physical characteristics, education, health, nationality, etc., from their case files. This service is available to those involved in an adoption in which the child was adopted through a licensed child placement agency. This information can be obtained for a nominal fee.
  • If a closed private or public adoption agency was involved in the adoption, the triad members may request non-identifying medical and social background information from the local department that serves your area.
  • If you do not know the source of the adoption, contact the local department that serves your area.

 

How is non-identifying or medical information obtained?
  • If a Maryland Department of Social Services was involved in the adoption, post-adoption services are available to members of the adoption triad: adoptees, adoptive parents and birth family members. Any triad member may seek non-identifying medical and social background information from the local department. This is usually defined as descriptive information, such as: physical characteristics, education, health, nationality, etc., from their case files. This service is available to those involved in an adoption in which the child was in the custody of the local department. This information can be obtained for a nominal fee.
  • If a Maryland licensed child placement agency was involved in the adoption, the triad members may request non-identifying medical and social background information. This is usually defined as descriptive information, such as: physical characteristics, education, health, nationality, etc., from their case files. This service is available to those involved in an adoption in which the child was adopted through a licensed child placement agency. This information can be obtained for a nominal fee.
  • If a closed private or public adoption agency was involved in the adoption, the triad members may request non-identifying medical and social background information from the Department as directed at the end of this website.
  • If you do not know the source of the adoption, contact the Department as directed at the end of this website.

 

What options are available for those who want to search the date an adoption was finalized in Maryland?

Maryland maintains a mutual consent voluntary adoption registry. The registry is a confidential cross-reference file of adult adoptees, birth parents, siblings and other birth relatives. Individuals provide identifying information and authorize its release to birth parents and/or birth siblings.

The process includes a computer search of the registry database. The search identifies individuals whose information matches. If a match occurs, the identities of the parties are confirmed through the agency involved in the adoption finalization. Once confirmed, the information is released to the interested parties. There is a $25.00 fee.

Maryland also provides adoption search, contact and reunion services to adult adoptees and birth parents. Individuals may authorize DHR to initiate a search for birth parents or adult children they placed for adoption. There are some administrative fees associated with this service. A referral will be made to a confidential intermediary to assist with locating the individual being sought. The process may include:

  • attempting to obtain the case record;
  • continuing to search until basic search protocols have been completed and all reasonable leads have been exhausted;
  • initiating contact if the search is successful;
  • facilitating the contact and /or reunion if the parties are interested;
  • providing counseling.

 

What are the requirements?
  1. Applicants are required to complete a notarized consent to release information form specifying the services requested.
  2. Applicants will also be required to provide proof of identity, complete a statistical background information sheet, an updated non-identifying medical/family background heritage information form and a non-identifying letter of introduction.
  3. If one or both parties being sought are found, their identities will be confirmed through the agency that was involved in the adoption finalization. Once confirmed, the Confidential Intermediary will contact the parties being sought in a confidential manner to assess their willingness to provide the requested non-identifying or identifying information. An assessment interview is required before contact or reunion occurs.
  4. Even though basic search protocols will be completed and all reasonable leads will be exhausted, neither the Department nor the Confidential Intermediary can guarantee that the individual(s) sought will be:
    • located;
    • willing to release information;
    • willing to agree to a contact or make a reunion exchange, or
    • alive.
  5. The individual being sought may grant or deny permission. The Confidential Intermediary may request a consent agreement or disclosure veto from the individual(s) being sought and will only provide the services that are authorized. Consents and disclosure vetoes may be withdrawn at any time.
  6. In all cases, the Confidential Intermediary will attempt to obtain an Updated Non-identifying Medical/Family Background Heritage Information form and a Non-identifying letter of introduction. The Confidential Intermediary will notify you as to the outcome of these attempts.
  7. Although experience shows that it is rare, Confidential Intermediaries reserve the right not to facilitate a contact and/or reunion when, based on their professional opinion and that of a licensed social work supervisor, that doing so would injure either party. Although all parties are ensured that the Department and the Confidential Intermediary will not release identifying information without the consent of all involved parties.

 


Adoption Search Contact and Reunion Services and Mutual Consent Voluntary Registry

All services are coordinated through The Department of Human Resources. For more information contact:

Department of Human Resources
Social Services Administration
Adoption Search Contact and Reunion Services
311 West Saratoga Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
1-800-39 ADOPT or 410-767-7171