This article answers frequently asked questions about accessing adoption records in Texas.
What are the different ways to access adoption records?
Depending on what identifying information you have, you may access confidential adoption records in the following ways:
- Child-placing agency or Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Get a de-identified copy of adoption records (this means the records will not name the birth parents or other person whose identity is confidential) through the child-placing agency or Department of Family and Protective Services that placed the child for adoption.
- Court of adoption. Ask the court that granted the adoption to unseal the adoption records by filing (turning in) a Petition to Unseal Records and showing good cause to unseal the records.
- Vital Statistics Unit. Get a plain paper copy of your original birth certificate from the Vital Statistics Unit if you are an adult adoptee and you can identify the names of the parents listed on your original birth certificate.
- If you are unable to identify the names of the parents on your original birth certificate, get a copy of your original birth certificate from the Vital Statistics Unit with a court Order Unsealing Adoption Records.
- Get a de-identified copy of adoption records (such as medical and social records) from private, non-related adoptions and from closed adoption agencies through the Vital Statistics Unit upon request.
- Central Adoption Registry. Register with the Central Adoption Registry to be connected with birth parents or siblings who also register with the Central Adoption Registry.
Who is able to get a copy of confidential adoption records?
The following people may access a de-identified copy of the health, social, education and genetic history report:
- An adoptive parent of the adopted child,
- The managing conservator, guardian of the person, or legal custodian of the adopted child,
- The adopted child once he or she becomes an adult,
- The surviving spouse of the deceased adopted child (the adoptee) if the surviving spouse is the parent or guardian of the adoptee’s child, and
- The progeny (descendant) of the adopted child (the adoptee) if the adoptee is dead and the descendant is an adult
Read the law here: Tex. Family Code 162.006.
In addition, the following people may access a de-identified copy of records and other information about the history of the adopted child:
- adoptive parents, and
- the adopted child (the adoptee) when the adoptee becomes an adult.
Read the law here: Tex. Family Code 162.0062.
How do I get a copy of my adoption records from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)?
The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) must have been involved in your adoption to give you a copy of your records. To learn if DFPS was involved in your adoption, call DFPS at 512-929-6764 or 877-764-7230. See How Can I Get My Records? You can also fill out a Request for Case Records (form 4885) to ask for your adoption records if you were personally involved.
How do I get a copy of adoption records from an adoption agency?
If you know which agency was involved in your adoption, contact that adoption agency directly to ask for your records. To learn which agency placed you for adoption, call the Central Adoption Registry division of the Texas Department of State Health Services at 512-458-7388.
Note: You must be 18 years of age or older to request the records. The records will be de-identified and will not name the birth parents or others whose identity is confidential.
Read the law here: Texas Family Code 162.006 to 162.0062.
What if the adoption agency that placed me for adoption is now closed?
Contact the Vital Statistics Unit to learn if it has a copy of the adoption records from the agency that is now closed. The Central Adoption Registry (CAR) maintains many adoption records from closed adoption agencies.
Get more information at the Vital Statistics Unit page listing for Closed Child Placing Agencies With Records.
If the Vital Statistics Unit does have the records from the closed agency, fill out a VS210 Request for Open Records Application form to get a copy of the de-identified adoption records.
What if I don’t know which court granted my adoption?
You may ask Vital Statistics to identify the court of adoption by filling out and turning in a VS143 Request for Identity of Court of Adoption form.
What records can I get from the Vital Statistics Unit?
- Non-certified copy of your original birth certificate.
- Fill out a VS 145 – Adult Adoptee Application for Non-Certified Copy of Original Birth Certificate form and turn it in to get a copy of your original birth certificate.
- You must be 18 years of age or older, and must be able to name the parents listed on your original birth certificate. (Note: If you cannot name the parents listed on your original birth certificate, get a copy of your original birth certificate by giving the Vital Statistics Unit a court order unsealing adoption records.)
- Mail the form, together with a copy of your government-issued ID, and $10 fee, to:
Department of State Health Services
Texas Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 12040
Austin, TX 78711-2040
- De-identified copy of adoption records.
- The Vital Statistics Unit Central Adoption Registry keeps adoption records from private, non-related adoptions and from many closed adoption agencies. For these adoption records, fill out a VS210 Request for Open Records Application form to get a copy of the de-identified records.
What is the Central Adoption Registry?
The Central Adoption Registry (CAR) is a part of the Texas Department of State Health Services that maintains many adoption records. CAR has a voluntary registry system where adult adoptees, biological parents and siblings can voluntarily sign up to be connected to their biological family members that also sign up with the registry. To register with CAR, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older,
- Provide proof of your age and identity,
- Pay a $30 fee, and
- Fill out and turn in a registry application. Get the VS 2271 – Central Adoption Registry Application and Instructions.
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