Search And Consent Laws

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search and consent laws

State laws that specify that an adopted adult, birthparent, sibling or half-sibling may request, through a social services department, that an intermediary, either a social worker or other designated person, will search for and contact another person, usually a birthparent or adopted adult, to ask if she/he is willing to communicate. As of this writing, these states (Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) have passed search and consent laws.

If the birthparent is found, the agency is to ask the birthparent if s(he) wishes to release identifying information. If the birthparent consents, then the information will be given to the adopted person. Many SEARCH groups believe that adopted adults are entitled to this information, regardless of the laws of the state.

Search and consent laws differ from the registry concept. With an adoption registry, the adopted adult independently registers the desire for information about a birthparent. If the birthparent also registers, the information is shared with both parties (See MUTUAL CONSENT REGISTRIES.) Some states have multiple laws providing for MUTUAL CONSENT REGISTRIES, search and consent, and a variety of other approaches, including veto laws.

States that utilize the concept of mutual consent registries, include Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.


Adoption Factbook III (Washington, D.C.: National Council For Adoption, 1999).

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