Many Utah-born children are adopted each year. For those adoptees left with questions concerning their biological family, Utah offers several avenues for discovering bio family information.
Nonidentifying Health History
An adoptee, their guardians, siblings, or children may request nonidentifying health history from the adoption agency and/or the Office of Vital Statistics. This information is provided for a fee and contains known nonidentifying health information compiled at the time of adoption. This information may include genetic and social health history of the adoptee and the adoptee’s maternal and paternal biological families.
The Utah Mutual-Consent Voluntary Registry
Utah adoptees over the age of 21 may register with The Utah Mutual-Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry. If an adult member of the adoptee’s biological family has also registered, the identifying information of both parties will be released to the other.
The Utah Mutual-Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry can be found at https://adoptionregistry.utah.gov/adoption/
Unsealing Adoption Records
In Utah, adoption records are sealed. So, for today’s adult adoptees who do not match on The Utah Mutual-Consent Voluntary Registry, their next recourse is to petition the court to unseal their adoption records for good cause. Only a party to the adoption proceeding may petition the court to open the record. Thus, only the adoptee or the adoptive parents may act as petitioner in these cases. Utah’s statute requires that ‘good cause’ is shown. This has been interpreted to include physical or mental health necessity, as well as other genuine concerns.
Utah law is shifting toward open adoption. For adoptions finalized after January 1, 2016, birth parents will elect with written consent to the Office of Vital Records whether or not identifying information may be shared with the adult adoptee. Birth parents may change the election at any time and/or add information to the election.
Attorneys are able to assist with the complexities of unsealing records. With this comes the opportunity to be a part of the reunification journey.
Adoption is a beautiful and complex process whose participants may be left needing answers. There are options for Utah adult adoptees seeking information relating to bio families.