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WISCONSIN

Adoption Law

 

Wisconsin law does not provide adult adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates, except by court order.

 

Wisconsin “impounds” an original birth certificate after an adoption and will release it only by court order or through Wisconsin’s Adoption Records Search Program. Affirmative consent is required from both birth parents before identifying information or an OBC is released, unless one birth parent is deceased, not known, or cannot be found. If only one birth parent is listed on the OBC and that birth parent is deceased, only the identity of the birth parent is released.

 

A birth parent may indicate a contact preference on a consent form, but the form is only filed if the birth parent also provides consent.

 

An adoptee must be at least 18 years of age to request identifying information through the Wisconsin adoption records search program. A birth parent’s medical information may also be available to an adult adoptee under a separate but similar statute.

 

 

Relevant Wisconsin Law: Original Birth Certificates

Wisc. Code 69.15(2-6)
(2) Adoptions.

(a) Except as provided under par. (b), if the state registrar receives an order under sub. (1) which provides for an adoption, the state registrar shall prepare, under sub. (6), a new certificate for the subject of the adoption unless the adoptive parents or the subject of the adoption requests, under s. 48.94 (1), that no new certificate be prepared. If the order is from a court in this state, the order shall include a certified copy of the original birth certificate registered for the subject of the adoption. The new certificate shall show:

1. The name of the registrant.
2. The date and place of birth as transcribed from the original certificate. The date and place on the original certificate may not be changed by the court.
3. The names and personal information of the adoptive parents unless otherwise indicated by the court order.
4. The hospital and time of birth as unknown.
5. The filing date on the original certificate.
6. Any other information necessary to complete the new certificate.

 

(b) If the state registrar receives an order under sub. (1) which provides for an adoption of any person born outside of the United States by any person who is a resident of this state at the time of adoption, and if the adoptive parents present proof of the facts of birth to the state registrar, the state registrar shall prepare a certification of birth data for the subject of the adoption. The certification shall indicate the date and place of birth, the child’s adoptive name, the adoptive parents’ names, and the sources of information of each of these facts. If the child has automatically acquired U.S. citizenship under 8 USC 1431 upon a court order granting an adoption after a foreign guardianship order as required under s. 48.97 (3), the certification shall also indicate that the child is recognized as a U.S. citizen by this state and that the certification shall have the full force and effect of a birth certificate issued by the state registrar. If neither of the birth parents of the subject of the adoption are U.S. citizens, the new certification may include proof of the naturalization of the subject of the adoption.

 

(c) If the state registrar determines that the registrant of a birth certificate was adopted without a change in the registrant’s birth certificate under par. (a) or (b), the state registrar shall obtain a copy of the court order which provided for the adoption, if available, and shall prepare, under sub. (6), a new certificate for the registrant.

 

(d)

1. A court shall order the state registrar to prepare for the subject of a birth certificate a new birth certificate based on the information on the subject’s original birth certificate if all of the following circumstances apply:

a. The subject of the birth certificate petitions the court for a new birth certificate.
b. The subject is an adult who was the subject of an adoption.
c. The subject did not have the opportunity under par. (a), at the time of the adoption, to request that no new birth certificate be prepared.
d. The subject knows the identity of each birth parent who is named on his or her original birth certificate.
e. Each birth parent who is alive and who is named on the subject’s original birth certificate does not object to the restoration of the information on the subject’s original birth certificate.

2. If the court grants an order under subd. 1., the state registrar shall prepare under sub. (6) a new birth certificate using all of the information contained on the original birth certificate, except for the adoptee’s given name at birth, if different.

3. After preparing a new birth certificate under subd. 2., the state registrar shall follow the procedure under sub. (6) (b) to impound all other birth certificates of the subject except the subject’s new birth certificate.

 

(e) If the state registrar receives an order under s. 48.97 (2) (d) registering the foreign adoption of a child who was adopted under the circumstances described in s. 48.97 (2), the state registrar shall prepare a certification of birth data for the child using the form in use at the time the court submits the information under s. 48.97 (2)(d). The certification shall indicate the date and place of birth, the child’s adoptive name, the adoptive parents’ names, and the sources of information of each of these facts. If the child has automatically acquired U.S. citizenship under 8 USC 1431 upon a court order registering a foreign adoption order under s. 48.97 (2)(d), the certification shall also indicate that the child is recognized as a U.S. citizen by this state and that the certification shall have the full force and effect of a birth certificate issued by the state registrar.

 

* * * * *

 

(6) Preparation of new certificates.

 

(a) The state registrar shall prepare a new birth certificate under this section on the form in use at the time the original certificate was filed. The state registrar shall include on a new certificate the date of creation of the new certificate and shall sign it. The state registrar shall type on the new certificate any other legible signature on the original certificate.

 

(b) The state registrar shall register a new certificate created under this section and shall impound the original certificate or the certificate registered under sub. (5) and all correspondence, affidavits, court orders and other related materials and prohibit access except by court order or except by the state registrar for processing purposes or except when authorized under ss. 48.432 and 48.433. The state registrar shall send a copy of any new certificate registered under this section to the local registrar who filed the original of the replaced certificate. Upon receipt of the copy, the local registrar shall destroy his or her copy of the replaced certificate and file the new certificate.

 

(c) If the state registrar changes a birth certificate on file or registered under this section instead of preparing a new certificate, the state registrar shall make the change under s. 69.11 (5) and shall send a notice of the change to the local registrar who filed the original of the changed certificate. Upon receipt of the notice, the local registrar shall change his or her copy of the changed certificate.

 

 

Relevant Wisconsin Law: Access to OBC and Identifying Information

48.433. Access to identifying information about parents
(1) In this section:

(a) “Agency” has the meaning given under s. 48.432 (1) (ag).
(b) “Birth parent” has the meaning given under s. 48.432 (1) (am).

 

(2) Any birth parent whose rights have been terminated in this state at any time, or who has consented to the adoption of his or her child in this state before February 1, 1982, may file with the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), an affidavit authorizing the department or agency to provide the child with his or her original birth certificate and with any other available information about the birth parent’s identity and location. An affidavit filed under this subsection may be revoked at any time by notifying the department or agency in writing.

 

(3) Any person 18 years of age or over whose birth parent’s rights have been terminated in this state or who has been adopted in this state with the consent of his or her birth parent or parents before February 1, 1982, may request the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), to provide the person with the following:

(a) The person’s original birth certificate.
(b) Any available information regarding the identity and location of his or her birth parents.

 

(4) Before acting on the request, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall require the requester to provide adequate identification.

 

(5) The department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall disclose the requested information in either of the following circumstances:

(a) The department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), has on file unrevoked affidavits filed under sub. (2) from both birth parents.
(b) One of the birth parents was unknown at the time of the proceeding for termination of parental rights or consent adoption and the known birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit under sub. (2).

 

(6)

(a) If the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), does not have on file an affidavit from each known birth parent, it shall, within 3 months after the date of the original request, undertake a diligent search for each birth parent who has not filed an affidavit. The search shall be completed within 6 months after the date of the request, unless the search falls within one of the exceptions established by the department by rule. If any information has been provided under sub. (5), the department or agency is not required to conduct a search.

(c) Employees of the department and any agency conducting a search under this subsection may not inform any person other than the birth parents of the purpose of the search.

(d) The department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall charge the requester a reasonable fee for the cost of the search. When the department or agency determines that the fee will exceed $100 for either birth parent, it shall notify the requester. No fee in excess of $100 per birth parent may be charged unless the requester, after receiving notification under this paragraph, has given consent to proceed with the search.

 

(7)

(a) The department or agency conducting the search shall, upon locating a birth parent, make at least one verbal contact and notify him or her of the following:

1. The nature of the information requested.
2. The date of the request.
3. The fact that the birth parent has the right to file with the department the affidavit under sub. (2).

(b) Within 3 working days after contacting a birth parent, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall send the birth parent a written copy of the information specified under par. (a) and a blank copy of the affidavit.

(c) If the birth parent files the affidavit, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall disclose the requested information if permitted under sub. (5).

(d) If the department or an agency has contacted a birth parent under this subsection, and the birth parent does not file the affidavit, the department may not disclose the requested information.

(e) If, after a search under this subsection, a known birth parent cannot be located, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), may disclose the requested information if the other birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit under sub. (2).

(f) The department or agency conducting a search under this subsection may not contact a birth parent again on behalf of the same requester until at least 12 months after the date of the previous contact. Further contacts with a birth parent under this subsection on behalf of the same requester may be made only if 5 years have elapsed since the date of the last contact.

 

(8)

(a) If a birth parent is known to be deceased, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), shall so inform the requester. The department or agency shall provide the requester with the identity of the deceased parent. If both birth parents are known to be deceased, the department or agency shall provide the requester with his or her original birth certificate. If only one birth parent is known to be deceased, the department or agency shall provide the requester with his or her original birth certificate and any available information it has on file regarding the identity and location of the other birth parent if the other birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit under sub. (2).

(b) If a birth parent is known to be dead, the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), in addition to the information provided under par. (a), shall provide the requester with any nonidentifying social history information about the deceased parent on file with the department or agency.

(8m) If the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), may not disclose the information requested under this section, it shall provide the requester with any nonidentifying social history information about either of the birth parents that it has on file.

 

(8r)

(a) In this subsection, “birth parent” has the meaning given in s. 48.432 (1) (am) and includes any other person who may be the person’s biological parent and whose parental rights have been terminated.

(b) Any person 18 years of age or over whose birth parent’s rights have been terminated in this state or who has been adopted in this state with the consent of his or her birth parent or parents before February 1, 1982, may file with the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), an affidavit authorizing the department or agency to provide the person’s birth parent with any available information about the identity and location of the person. An affidavit filed under this subsection may be revoked at any time by notifying the department or agency in writing.

(c) Any birth parent whose rights have been terminated in this state at any time, or who has consented to the adoption of his or her child in this state before February 1, 1982, may request the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), to provide him or her with any available information about the identity and location of any person 18 years of age or over who was or may have been his or her child. Before acting on the request, the department or agency shall require the requester to provide adequate identification.

(d) If the department, or agency contracted with under sub. (11), has on file an unrevoked affidavit filed under par. (a) by a person 18 years of age or over who was or may have been a child of the requester, the department or agency shall disclose the information requested under par. (b) related to the person who filed the affidavit. In disclosing information under this paragraph, the department or agency may not disclose any information that would reveal the identity or location of a birth parent other than the birth parent requesting the information.

 

(9) The requester may petition the circuit court to order the department or agency designated by the department to disclose any information that may not be disclosed under this section. The court shall grant the petition for good cause shown.

 

(10) Any person, including this state or any political subdivision of this state, who participates in good faith in any requirement of this section shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that results from his or her actions. In any proceeding, civil or criminal, the good faith of any person participating in the requirements of this section shall be presumed.

 

(11) The department shall promulgate rules to implement this section and may contract with an agency to administer this section.

 

 

Relevant Wisconsin Law: Adoptions from Other Jurisdictions, Including Foreign

Section 48.97. Adoption and guardianship orders of other jurisdictions
(1) Effect and recognition of adoption decrees of other states. When the relationship of parent and child has been created by an order of adoption of a court of any other state, the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this state shall be determined under s. 48.92 as though the order of adoption was entered by a court of this state.

 

(2) Effect and recognition of foreign adoption decrees. If the adoption of a child who was born in a foreign jurisdiction and who was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth was finalized under the laws of the jurisdiction from which the child was adopted and if the child was admitted to the United States with an IR-3 or IH-3 visa issued by the U.S. citizenship and immigration services, all of the following apply:

(a) The adoption shall be recognized by this state and the rights and obligations of the adoptive parent and child shall be determined under s. 48.92 as though the order of adoption was entered by a court of this state.

(b) The adoptive parent shall not be required to readopt the child in this state.

(c) Within 365 days of a child being admitted to the United States, the adoptive parent shall submit a letter to the court requesting registration of the foreign adoption order. The parent shall include in the request all of the following:

1. Evidence as to the date, place of birth, and parentage of the child.

2. A certified or notarized copy of the final order of adoption entered by a court of the foreign jurisdiction and, if that final order is not in English, a certified translation or a notarized copy of a certified translation of that final order.

3. A sworn statement by the adoptive parent including all of the following:

a. That a home study was completed as required or recognized by this state and the home study recommends the parent as an adoptive parent.

b. That the required preadoption training was completed.

c. That the adoptive parent is receiving and will receive supervision from a licensed child welfare agency in the United States until the court enters an order registering the foreign adoption order and has satisfied all preadoption training requirements.

4. The name and address of the adoptive parents and the child.

5. Any other information necessary for the state registrar to prepare a certification of birth data for the child.

(d) Upon receipt of the letter under par. (c), the court shall enter an order registering the foreign adoption order, and may change the name of the child to that requested by the adoptive parents. The court shall then transmit the order registering the foreign adoption order to the state registrar.

(e) An order registering the foreign adoption order shall have the same effect as an adoption order granted under s. 48.91.

 

(3) Effect and recognition of foreign guardianship decrees; additional requirements. If a resident of this state has been appointed guardian of a child who was born in a foreign jurisdiction and who was not a citizen of the United States at the time of birth and the child was admitted to the United States with an IR-4 or IH-4 visa issued by the U.S. citizenship and immigration services, the guardian shall adopt the child under s. 48.839.

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