A Complete Guide to Adoption Records in Florida
Accessing adoption records is a goal for many adoptees — and other individuals as well. Until as recently as several years ago, this was much harder to accomplish. The majority of past adoptions were closed, with sealed records and many unanswered questions.
Today, things are different.
If you are looking for your Florida adoption records, there’s a good chance you can find them. There are two reasons for this:
- Florida adoption laws have a clear process for accessing records.
- Modern adoptions are increasingly open or semi-open.
We hope this guide to adoption records in Florida answers the questions you may have about what records are, why you may want them and how to access these documents. If you were adopted through American Adoptions of Florida and wish to learn more about your adoption records, you can always give us a call anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION.
However, remember: We are not legal experts. Please speak with a local adoption attorney for personalized guidance on accessing and opening your adoption records.
What are Florida Adoption Records?
Adoption records contain all the essential documentation that was required to complete an adoption. The information that most individuals are attempting to find is typically a name (as well as possibly an address) for a birth parent or adopted child.
Florida adoption records contain two different types of information: non-identifying and identifying.
Non-identifying information is actually more specific than it sounds. This aspect of adoption records in Florida may contain things like the date and place of birth of the adoptee, age of the birth parents, birth parent descriptions, education level of birth parents, and a registry of other children born to birth parents at the time of the adoption.
Identifying information is more specific, listing names, addresses, medical records and other information that specifically identifies everyone involved in the adoption.
It may be relatively simple to access non-identifying information in a Florida adoption records search, while identifying information could require more effort and legal assistance.
Reasons to Search for Florida Adoption Records
- An adoptee attempting to identify birth parents
- Birth parents in a closed adoption attempting to locate their child
- Biological siblings searching for their brother/sister who was placed for adoption
- Descendants of an adoptee (children, grandchildren) trying to learn more about their biological family heritage
- Relatives of deceased adoptees searching for biological family
The unifying motivation here is an attempt to understand more about heritage and establish connections to biological family — both important pursuits with potentially life-changing outcomes.
Laws about Adoption Records in Florida
Nearly all states seal adoption records once the adoption is finalized. This does not mean they are closed forever, but they are protected.
Laws on Who May Access Information
The information may be accessed by adopted persons who are 18 or older, the birth parents, the adoptive parents, birth siblings and birth grandparents.
Laws on Accessing Non-Identifying Information
The non-identifying information must be shown to the adoptive parents before the adoption becomes final. If the adoptee requests non-identifying information once they are 18 or older, Florida adoption records law requires that it be shown to them.
Laws on Accessing Identifying Information
Accessing identifying information is a longer process, and it could require a petition to unseal adoption records in Florida. This information cannot be disclosed unless the respective party (the person it identifies) has given written consent.
However, that’s not the end of the discussion. Once an adoptee is 18 or older, or if adoptive parents support this search before the child is 18, a court may rule that records should be unsealed without the consent of the identified party. If this happens, the identified party will be notified.
The Florida Adoption Registry
The Florida adoption registry is established as a part of state adoption laws. It is maintained by the Department of Children and Family Services. The registry lists the last known names and addresses of adopted persons, birth parents and adoptive parents, as well as other identifying information any party would like to include in the registry.
How to Conduct a Florida Adoption Records Search
With an understanding of the reasons to look and the laws about records, you may be wondering how to conduct a Florida adoption records search. While we cannot give direct legal advice, you could follow these steps in your search.
- Step 1: Contact the County Clerk from the place of your birth and adoption.
- Step 2: Fill out a petition to unseal adoption records in Florida.
- Step 3: A court date may be set to determine whether or not there is “good cause shown” to unseal identifying information. You may need to report to court to speak with the judge. An adoption attorney is not required, but it is always advisable to work with a legal professional.
- Step 4: Choose to review the Florida adoption records yourself or have the records viewed by a confidential intermediary.
Following these steps will give you the best chance to access adoption records in Florida.
Learn More about Florida Adoption Records
Gaining access to your Florida adoption records can be a big step in your journey. If you are interested in more information or professional services, please contact a local adoption attorney.
Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.