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MASSACHUSETTS

Adoption Law

Massachusetts law does not provide all adult adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates. Rather, adoptees born between July 17, 1974, and January 1, 2008, are denied access to their own OBCs, except by court order. Adoptees born on or before July 17, 1974, have unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates, as do those born after January 1, 2008 (upon reaching the age of 18).

Relevant Massachusetts Law: Original Birth Certificate

Chapter 46, Section 2B. Pre-adoption birth certificates; application for inspection by adopted persons
Upon written application, which shall include proof of identity and payment of applicable fees, by an adopted person 18 years of age or older who was born in the commonwealth on or before July 17, 1974 or on or after January 1, 2008 or by an adoptive parent of an adopted person under 18 years of age and born in the commonwealth on or after January 1, 2008, the state registrar shall:-

(a) make available for inspection at the offices of the state registry the birth certificate prior to adoption which indicated the prior legal parent or parents listed on the initial birth certificate or if there has been more than 1 adoption, the birth certificate prior to the first adoption which indicates the parent or parents listed on the birth certificate prior to adoption.

(b) send by certified mail return receipt to the adopted person age 18 or older or to the parents of an adopted person under 18 years of age a photocopy of the contents of the birth record with the following notation on it: ”The contents of this birth record are being released under section 2B of chapter 46 of the Massachusetts General Laws or under a court order. This record was amended by adoption. This is not a certified copy of a birth record.”

Relevant Massachusetts Law: Court Adoption Records

All petitions for adoption, all reports submitted thereunder and all pleadings, papers or documents filed in connection therewith, docket entries in the permanent docket and record books shall not be available for inspection, unless a judge of probate of the county where such records are kept, for good cause shown, shall otherwise order. Such petitions, reports, pleadings, papers, and permanent docket and record books shall be segregated. A separate permanent docket book shall be provided for all such entries. This section shall apply to the index of the court of all such entries, a separate index of which shall be provided.

 

Relevant Massachusetts Law: Adoption Agency Records

Chapter 210, Section 5C. Inspection of pleadings, reports, etc.; docket book 

(a) A placement agency, as defined in section 1A of chapter 15D, holding records relating to an adopted person, the biological parents of an adopted person or the adoptive parents of an adopted person shall


Chapter 210, Section 5D. Release of information concerning adoption:

(1) release to such adopted person, if he has reached the age of eighteen years, upon his written request, information about his biological parents which will not identify or tend to lead to the identification of the biological parents or their present or former locations.

(2) release to a biological parent of an adopted person, upon the biological parent’s written request, information about such adopted person which will not reveal or tend to reveal his identity after adoption or his present or former locations, and which will not tend to lead to his identity after adoption or present or former locations.

(3) release to an adoptive parent, if the adopted person is under the age of eighteen years, upon the adoptive parent’s written request, information about the adopted person and his biological parents which will not identify or tend to lead to the identification of the biological parents or their present or former locations.

Such information shall include such nonidentifying information which the agency holds concerning the medical, ethnic, socio-economic, and educational circumstances of the person. The agency, in its discretion, shall further release such nonidentifying information concerning the circumstances under which the adopted person became available for adoption as it deems to be in the best interest of the person so requesting.

(b) If a placement agency, as defined in section nine of chapter twenty-eight A, has received written permission from a biological parent of an adopted person to release the identity of the biological parent to the adopted person and the said agency has received written permission from the adopted person, or written permission from the adoptive parents if the adoptive person is under the age of twenty-one, to release the identity after adoption of the adopted person to the biological parent, then the agency shall release the identity of the adopted person to the biological parent and the identity of the biological parent to the adopted person; provided, however, that if the biological parent is surviving, that he or she has given written consent at least thirty days before the release of said identifying information. The term ”biological parent”, as used in this subsection, shall mean a biological mother, or a father named on the birth certificate of the adopted person filed in court with the adoption papers, or a man who has signed, as father, an adoption surrender filed in court with the adoption papers.

(c) Information released to a person pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (b) shall be provided in writing if such person so requests.

(d) Such placement agency shall:

(1) release to the biological parent of an adopted person, upon the biological parent’s written request, any personal data, as defined in section one of chapter sixty-six A, which it holds relating to the biological parent.

(2) release to an adoptive parent, upon his written request, any personal data, as defined in section one of chapter sixty-six A, which it holds relating to the adoptive parent.

(3) in making any disclosure of information pursuant to this paragraph, the agency shall remove personal identifiers relating to a third person. No agency shall rely on any exception contained in clause Twenty-sixth of section seven of chapter four to withhold personal data otherwise accessible under this paragraph.

(e) All other adoption records held by such placement agency shall be confidential and shall not be released.

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