If you are an adoptee looking for your birth family, or a birth family looking for a sibling or child, you will need to be familiar with adoption language and the laws. Each state has different laws regarding adoption disclosure. You will need to understand the laws of the state in which your adoption was made. The adoption rights organization, Bastards Nation, has summarized regulations by state.
Before you start diving into the regulations, you will need to understand acronyms and terms. The following glossary will help you navigate the language.
• AD– Adoptee
• AP:–Adoptive Parent
• BP– Birth Parent
• BS–Birth Sibling
• Non-Identifying Information–Information about the other party usually limited to ages, physical descriptions, talents and hobbies and basic medical data. State laws vary as to the release and definition of non-identifying information. Cost as well as the amount of information received will depend on the agency or court that releases it.
• Non-Identifying Information Defined in Law–Some states define non-identifying information in their statutes, so that the release of non-identifying information is uniform to everyone who requests it.
• Passive Registry–At least two parties are required to register with a public or private agency in order for a match to be made. Some registries require as many as five signatures. (Both adoptive parents, both birthparents, and the adoptee).
• Active Registry–One party registers with a public or private agency and a third party contacts the person being sought for their consent to be contacted or have information released.
• Waiver of Confidentiality–A document filed by one party allowing for disclosure of records or identifying information to the other party. Not always honored by the state or agency.
• Intermediary System–Intermediaries are individuals approved by the court to have an adoption file released to them upon petition by an adoptee or birthparent. The intermediary then searches for the other party to obtain consent for identifying information to be released. Similar to an active registry.
• Disclosure Veto–A document filed by one party to register a refusal to the release of any identifying information.
• Contact Veto–A document filed by one party to register a refusal to be contacted by the searching party. Sometimes extends to all lineal relatives and descendants.
• Open Adoption–An agreement between the adoptive parents and the birthparents, usually verbal, but sometimes in writing that allows the birthparents to have some level of involvement in the adoptees childhood. Records remain sealed in open adoption agreements, unless the adoption occurred in a state that allows the adoptive parent the option of keeping the records unsealed. Should the adoptive parents choose to terminate the open adoption agreement at any time, the birthparent usually has no legal recourse. Currently, no state has passed legislation that outlaws or enforces open adoption agreements.