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Locating Birth Parents and Family History Information
Release of Information from Michigan’s Adoption Records
Michigan’s adoption law requires adoption agencies, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and courts to release certain information from adoption records to adult adoptees, former family members and adoptive parents of a minor child. The law divides the information in adoption records into two categories: non-identifying and identifying information:
The agency or court having the adoption record must release the following information concerning the adoptee and the adoptee’s family of origin within 63 days if available:
- Date, time, and place of birth of the adoptee including the hospital, city, county and state.
- An account of the health, psychological and genetic history of the adoptee.
- An account of the health, psychological and genetic history of biological parents and siblings.
- Description of the adoptee and the adoptee’s birth family including:
- given first name of adoptee at birth,
- age and sex of sibling(s) of adoptee,
- adoptee’s enrollment and performance in school, educational testing results, and special education needs,
- adoptee’s racial, ethnic and religious background,
- general description of birth parents including age at termination of parental rights and length of time parents had been married at time of placement,
- account of adoptee’s past and existing relationship with any individual or facility with whom the adoptee had lived or visited on a regular basis,
- educational, occupational, professional, athletic or artistic achievement of the birth family,
- hobbies, special interests and school activities of the birth family,
- Circumstances of any court order terminating parental rights of birth parent.
- Length of time between termination of parental rights and child’s placement.
- Status of termination; voluntary, or court ordered.
- Any information necessary to determine child’s eligibility for state or federal benefits.
Identifying information is defined as:
- Name of child before placement in adoption,
- Name of each biological parent at the time of termination of parental rights,
- Most recent name and address of each biological parent,
- Names of biological siblings at the time of termination.
Release of Information to Adult Adopted Person
You may request information from the agency that placed you or the court that finalized your adoption. You must submit a request for identifying information in writing. Release of identifying information to an adult adoptee is different depending on when parental rights were terminated:
On or after May 28, 1945 but before September 12, 1980
You can obtain your name, the names of biological siblings at the time of termination, and identifying information on both birth parents if both parents have filed statements of consent to release identifying information in the Central Adoption Registry (CAR). You can obtain your name, the names of biological siblings at the time of termination and identifying information on one birth parent if that parent has filed a statement of consent in CAR. You can obtain your name, the names of biological siblings at the time of termination and the name of a birth parent who is deceased.
Before May 28, 1945 or on or after September 12, 1980
You can obtain your name and the names of biological siblings at the time of termination if a birth parent has not filed a statement of denial with CAR. You can obtain identifying information on any birth parent who has not filed a statement of denial with CAR.
Release of Information to Former Parent or to an Adult Former Sibling
Non-identifying information may be released by the court that finalized the adoption and the placing agency upon request providing the adoptee is an adult. The name and address of an adult adoptee may be released by an adoption agency or court to a biological parent or an adult sibling if the adoptee has authorized the release in writing to the court and/or agency. The former parent(s) and adult former sibling may register statements of consent or denial with CAR.
Central Adoption Registry
The Central Adoption Registry (CAR) is a file kept by DHS of only former parents and former adult siblings’ statements consenting to or denying the release of identifying information. These statements will be forwarded to adoption agencies and courts upon request so they can determine what type of information can be released to an adult adoptee. The Registry is accessed by the court or agency only.
A former parent may consent to or deny the release of their name and address by submitting a Parent’s Consent/Denial Statement (DHS-1919) to CAR. A former adult sibling may register with CAR by completing the Adult Former Sibling Statement (DHS-1917). One may revoke or update their information by completing a new form and submitting it to the Registry. A statement of denial is not effective after the death of a former parent.
Forms are available from the courts, DHS local offices, adoption agencies, the Registry, or by downloading from the website listed. The address of the Registry is:
State of Michigan
Department of Human Services
Central Adoption Registry
PO Box 30037
Lansing, MI 48909
Release of Information to Adoptive Parents
Non-identifying information contained in adoption records must be given to adoptive parents of a minor child at the time of placement and upon request thereafter.
Locating an Adoption Record
All adoptions have a court record and may have an agency record too. There is no one central location of adoption records.
The court record of adoption is usually located in the family division of circuit court located in the county where the adoptive parents lived when the adoption took place.
A court, upon receiving a request for information from an adoption record in its possession from an adult adoptee, former parent or adult former sibling, must identify the placing agency. An agency receiving a request for information from an adoption record in its possession must identify the court that finalized the adoption.
The adult adoptee may make a written request to the Department of Community Health (DCH), Vital Records, Lansing, MI 48909 to request the name of the court that finalized the adoption.
Confidential Intermediary Program
The Confidential Intermediary Program is available through the court where the final order of adoption was entered. This program allows for search and contact by eligible individuals. Individuals (meeting certain timeframes) who may petition the court for an intermediary are:
- An adult adoptee, adoptive parent of a minor child, or an adult child of a deceased adoptee seeking contact with and/or information about a former family member.
- A former family member, which includes biological parent, birth grandparent, or adult birth sibling seeking contact and/or information with an adult adoptee person or an adult child of a deceased adoptee.
A confidential intermediary shall make a reasonable search for an individual whose identity is sought by a petitioner. Fees are generally charged for this service. For more information contact the Family Division of Circuit Court where the adoption was finalized.
Added Features of the Adoption Law
A petition to gain access to adoption records may be filed with the court that finalized the adoption. Such a petition may be advisable if the information sought cannot be obtained
any other way.
The direct descendant of the deceased adoptee is eligible for the same information as the adoptee. The law applies to all adoptions including relative and stepparent adoptions. A court, adoption agency, or DHS may charge $60 or the actual cost of releasing information, whichever is less. Part or the entire fee may be waived in case of indigence or hardship.
In some instances, an adult adopted person may obtain a copy of his/her original certificate of live birth from DCH:
- For adoptions where parental rights were terminated prior to May 28, 1945 and after September 12, 1980 and no parental denial statement is on file with the Registry.
- Through court order. (Contact the court where the order of adoption was entered for more information).
The information on this page was written by the Michigan Department of Human Services and is available as a brochure at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/FIA-AdoptPub439_12970_7.pdf.