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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Adoption Law

 

New Hampshire law gives adoptees who are at least 18 years of age unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates. The state also allows birth parents to file a contact preference form and/or health history questionnaire, neither of which will restrict the right of adult adoptees to obtain their OBCs.

 

Court adoption records are not accessible except by court order. Any other identifying information—other than an original birth certificate— is not accessible except by court order or mutual consent.

 

 

Relevant New Hampshire Law: Original Birth Certificate

Section 5-C:33. Procedure for Amending the Birth Record Following Adoption
I. When the clerk of the town or city of birth occurrence receives a notice of adoption, a new birth record shall be prepared as specified in RSA 5-C:31.

 

II. The new birth record shall be substituted immediately for the original birth record by the clerk of the town or city.

 

III. The original birth record and the notice of adoption shall not be subject to inspection except pursuant to RSA 5-C:9 or upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to RSA 170-B:23.

 

IV. The actual place and date of birth shall be shown on the new birth record.

 

V. If no original birth record is on file for the adoptee the clerk of the town or city shall prepare a new birth record.

 

VI. If the date and place of birth have not been determined in the adoption proceedings, a delayed certificate of birth shall be filed with the state registrar as provided in RSA 5-C:38 through RSA 5-C:40 before a new certificate of birth is prepared and, if the required evidence cannot be obtained that would justify the creation of a delayed certificate of birth, the registrar shall authorize the preparation of a birth certificate for the adoptee using court records as the authority for approval.

 

VII. In the case of a single parent adoption, the information concerning the other parent shall be listed as “not stated.”

 

VIII. In the case of an adopting parent whose spouse is deceased, upon written request of the adopting parent, the clerk of the town or city shall include the information about the husband when his date of death is not more than 9 months prior to the adoptee’s birth and information on the wife shall be included when her date of death is after the adoptee’s date of birth.

 

IX. When a new birth record following an adoption is prepared by the clerk of the town or city of birth occurrence, no copy of the original birth certificate in the state of New Hampshire shall be disclosed except pursuant to RSA 5-C:9.

 

X. When the adoption concerns a child who had been born at home, the clerk of the town or city of birth occurrence shall minimize disclosure of information that would provide a possible connection with the natural mother by recording only the city or town of birth and not the street address on the new birth record; and, if the name of the natural mother is shown on the original birth record as the certifier, informant or attendant, replacing it with the adoptive mother’s name on the new birth record.

 

XI. When it has been determined by the division that an adoption had previously been decreed by an authorized court, including out-of-state courts, but the amended birth record had not been prepared at the time of the adoption, then the clerk of the city or town of birth occurrence shall immediately prepare a new birth record and the division shall contact the court that authorized the adoption and ask that a certified copy of the adoption decree be prepared and transmitted to the city or town of birth with a copy sent to the division.

 

XII. Upon receipt of a report of decree of annulment of adoption, the clerk of the town or city of birth occurrence shall replace the amended birth record with the original. The previous amended birth record and evidence shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to RSA 170-B:23.

 

Section 5-C:9. Disclosure of Information From Vital Records
I. Upon written application by an adult adoptee, who was born in this state and who has had an original birth certificate removed from vital statistics records due to an adoption, the registrar shall issue to such applicant a non-certified copy of the unaltered, original certificate of birth of the adoptee, with procedures, filing fees and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the state.

 

I-a. The registrar shall prescribe and, upon request, shall make available to each birth parent named on the original birth certificate, a contact preference form on which the birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adoptee who is the birth child of the birth parent. Upon such a request, the registrar shall also provide the birth parent with an updated medical history form, which shall be completed and returned, together with the completed contact preference form, by the birth parent to the registrar.

 

I-b. The contact preference form shall provide the birth parent with the following options from which the birth parent shall select one:

(a) I would like to be contacted. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.
(b) I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.
(c) I would prefer not to be contacted at this time. I have completed a contact preference form and an updated medical history form and am filing them with the registrar as set forth in this form.

 

I-c. When the registrar receives a complete contact preference form and a completed medical history form from a birth parent, the registrar shall match the contact preference form and the updated medical history form with the adoptee’s sealed birth certificate. The contact preference form and the updated medical history form shall then be attached to the adoptee’s sealed certificate.

 

I-d. Only a person authorized by the registrar to process an application made under paragraph I may process a contact preference form and an updated medical history form.

 

I-e. The applicant, a member of his or her immediate family, his or her guardian, or respective legal representatives shall be considered to have a direct and tangible interest for purposes of this section. Others may demonstrate a direct and tangible interest when information is needed for determination or protection of a personal or property right.

 

 

Relevant New Hampshire Law: Court Adoption Records

Section 170-B:23. Confidentiality of Records
Notwithstanding any other law concerning public hearings and records:
I. All hearings held in adoptive proceedings shall be in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, counsel, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.

 

II. All papers and records, including birth certificates, pertaining to the adoption, whether part of the permanent record of the court or of a file in the division, in an agency or office of the town clerk or the bureau of vital records and health statistics are subject to inspection only upon written order of the court for good cause shown, except as otherwise provided in RSA 170-B:24.

 

III. Nothing contained in this section or RSA 170-B:24 shall prevent the department or the licensed child-placing agency from sharing with the adoptive parents all information it has available about the minor child being placed for adoption. The department or the licensed child-placing agency shall delete any information which would tend to identify a birth parent.

 

 

Relevant New Hampshire Law: Identifying Information

Section 170-B:24. Requests for Identifying and Non-Identifying Information
I. Requests for non-identifying social or medical information shall be handled in the following manner:

(a) Requests for non-identifying social or medical information may be made by an adoptee over the age of 18; a parent of an adoptee under the age of 18; or a birth parent of an adoptee.

(b) When any of the above listed people submits a request for non-identifying social or medical information, the department or agency shall disclose such information relating to the adoptee, the birth parents, or the blood relatives. The department or the agency shall delete any information from the health history or background which would tend to be identifying. Court approval is not required for information disclosed under this paragraph.

 

II. If the parties mutually agree to the release of identifying information, it shall be released as provided in this paragraph.

(a) Only the following people may sign a written release authorizing the department or licensed child-placing agency to disclose identifying information about an adoptee, a birth parent, or a blood relative:

(1) An adoptee over the age of 18 may sign a release to authorize disclosure of identifying information as provided in this section.
(2) The adoptive parents of an adoptee under the age of 18 may also sign a release to authorize disclosure of identifying information as provided in this section. However, said release shall become void when the adoptee reaches the age of 18.
(3) A birth parent of an adoptee may sign a release authorizing disclosure of identifying information as provided in this section at the time of surrender or later. A separate release shall be signed by each birth parent.

 

(b) Any release made pursuant to this section may be revoked or amended at any time.

 

(c) The person signing the release of information or its revocation shall file a copy of such release or revocation with the department or licensed child-placing agency conducting the assessment under RSA 170-B:18, if any. The department or licensed child-placing agency shall then file a copy of the release with the court in which the adoption petition was filed.

 

(d) The release of information shall contain the social security number of the person signing the release. The social security number shall be used only for purposes of locating that person and shall not be otherwise disclosed.

 

(e) When the department or agency involved in the adoption receives a request for identifying information where a release has been signed and not previously revoked, the department or agency shall attempt to contact the person who signed the release to reaffirm that person’s desire to be contacted. If the person reaffirms his or her desire to be contacted or the department or agency cannot locate the person who signed the release or if the person is deceased, the department or agency shall disclose identifying information to the person who requested it. Court approval is not required for information disclosed under this paragraph.

 

(f) When the department or agency involved in the adoption receives a request for identifying information where no release has been signed or the previously signed release has been revoked, the department or agency may, after review of its records, attempt to contact the person whose identity is sought, to ascertain if they desire to release identifying information. If the person whose identity is sought, and the person seeking identifying information agree to the release of identifying information, the department or agency shall release it. Court approval is not required for information released under this subparagraph.

 

III. Court approval shall be required prior to the release of identifying information in the following cases:

(a) If the parties do not agree, or if they cannot be contacted, or if the department or agency questions the safety of releasing information pursuant to paragraph II, the requesting party or the department or agency may petition the court having jurisdiction for the release of identifying information. The department or agency shall file a report of the department or agency’s action with the court. The court shall on its own motion or on request of any party hold a hearing on the issue of releasing identifying information. The department or agency involved shall receive notice of the hearing and be entitled to participate in any hearing under this section.

(b) For all other requests for identifying information under this section, court approval shall be required. The court shall request a review of the record and the facts of the request from the department or agency involved in the adoption. The court may hold a hearing on the issue of releasing identifying information. The department or agency involved shall receive notice of such hearings and be entitled to participate in any hearing under this section.

IV. Any person violating this section or RSA 170-B:23 shall, if a natural person, be guilty of a misdemeanor, and any other person shall be guilty of a felony.

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