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How to Open Sealed Adoption Birth Records in California

By Mandi Titus ; Updated April 18, 2017
Opening sealed adoption records requires completing several request forms.

California allows adopted persons who have reached adulthood to request information from their sealed adoption record. Birth parents of a child who has reached adulthood may also request information. Adoptive parents can receive information when a child is under age 21. Some circumstances necessitate the records release, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. California allows the release of certain information upon receiving consent from both the birth parent and adopted person, though other records must be requested though court petition.

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Complete a records request form and consent to the release of your information. California allows birth parents and adopted persons who have reached the age of 18 to complete a "Consent for Contact" form that grants the release of names and contact information from the sealed record. For adopted persons who are 21 or older, a "Adoptions Information Act Statement" may be filled out, allowing the release of birth parent information from the sealed record, so long as the birth parent has consented to the release. California's Department of Social Services provides links to both forms on its website.

Determine where your adoption took place. If you are unable to find the desired information through the state's mutual consent program, you must find out which county the adoption was finalized in. Talk to your adoptive parents or contact the adoption agency that assisted with the adoption if you do not have this information.

File a petition with the Superior Court in the county that your adoption took place. You may request the original birth certificate and other documentation in the sealed record. Contact the court directly to receive the petition documentation and learn about its specific procedures and policies. The court has sole discretion to release information from the sealed record and typically allows the release if you can prove good cause.

Things You Will Need

  • California Adoptions Information Act Statement
  • California Consent for Contact form


Adopted persons seeking just an original birth certificate may petition the Superior Court in the county that they reside in.

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About the Author

Based in Florida, Mandi Titus has been writing since 2002. Her articles have been published on sites such as Goodkin, Go Green Street and Living the Healthy Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Stetson University.

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