Monday, September 2, 2013

Adult Adoptees in Texas - Opening Adoption Records

Update January, 2015:

A couple of people have emailed me that the suggestions I made have not worked for them. I'm sorry if my ideas have not worked.  I open my adoption file in 2003 and perhaps some things have changed.

I still have not found the file.  I continue to look for my adoption info from 2003.


Original blog:

I moved over a year ago and I cannot find my file with all my information containing what I did to open my adoption file!  I've looked everywhere!  I'm hoping that I will find it soon - maybe if I quit looking it will "pop up"!

In the past 8 months, at least 5 people have called or emailed me about my old blog post regarding my journey to open my adoption record.  The blog post I am referring to is probably 7-8 years old.

Here is a quick summary of 2 of my ideas:

1.  If you are over the age of 18 the State of Texas has a Texas Central Adoption Registry for you to try to locate your birth family.  It costs $30.  Their phone number is 888-963-7111 extension 6279.  Their address is Central Adoption Registry, Department of State Health Services, P O Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347.

You can "google" this information and all the information regarding how to register for this site will show up.

Please be advised that I registered for this site over 10 years ago when I tried to find my birth family.  Due to some incorrect information, my birth family and I did not connect.  So if you and your birth family incorrect information and/or slightly different information, the employees will not connect you.  I suspect that they don't want to be held responsible for "connecting" the wrong families.  But it is certainly worth a try and it is not a lot of money.

2.  The other idea is to apply for a "Non-certified copy of your original birth certificate" for $10. This is done by writing the Department of State Health Services, Texas Vital Statistics, P O Box 12040, Austin, Texas 78711-2040.  They say on their website to allow 2 months.

You can "google" this information and read all about this birth certificate and get a copy of the forms that you will need to send into Austin.  They do ask for your adopted parents names as well as your birth mother's name.  So if you have not accessed your adoption file, you might not have this information.

Other ideas:

1.  If you had an adoption through an adoption agency, begin there.  Even though they will "black out" a lot of information.  It is the easiest place to begin.

2.  Hire a private investigator.  I did.  I am thankful that I did.  She specialized in helping adoptees. I do not have her name.  It's in the missing file.

3.  Be prepared for the worst.  I'm sure that are happy reunion stories.  Mine was not.  Another friend of mine did not have a happy one either  - she located her bio mom in a homeless shelter.
DO NOT GIVE ANY OF YOUR RELATIVES MONEY!  YOU DO NOT OWE THEM ANYTHING -- a bio mom gave me this information as I started the search for my bio family & it was good advice -- follow it!

4.  Going to Court to Opening Your Sealed Adoption Record --

I recommend hiring an attorney to help you do this!  Please don't do it on your own.

A lot of people attempt to go to court and ask a judge to open their "sealed" adoption records after they turn 18.  Even with a medical necessity, some judges do not want to open adoption records.  Judges in Texas have a lot of discretion.  Once a file is assigned to a specific court, it is impossible to get the file transferred to another court.  Therefore, if you attempt to handle this matter yourself without an attorney and the judge refuses to open the file - DO NOT DO ANYTHING TO UPSET THE JUDGE.  It will come back to haunt you in the future.

I strongly urge you to retain an attorney that knows the judge.  How do you find an attorney that knows the judge?  Great question.  This is often difficult to determine.  It must be done very discretely.  Patience is required.  Do not be a bull in a china shop.  Quietly ask around for the best lawyer to use in that judge's courtroom.

I know that you feel that you are "entitled" to see your adoption file.  Unfortunately, there are some judges do not agree with you.  In fact, they feel strongly that you are never entitled to see the file ever - no matter if you feel it is a life and death matter.  (Somehow your file might suddenly "disappear" - it could suddenly get misfiled somewhere in their voluminous court files never to be found or it might disappear in the bottom of a locked desk drawer -- you never want something like this to happen to your file because it could be "lost forever"!)

That said, there are some judges that will easily & gladly open a person's adoption file.  If  you are one of the lucky ones, count your blessings.  I only get the phone calls from the people that are hitting the brick walls.

5.  If you expect to be greeted with open arms - you probably won't be -- you might be the "secret" that no one talked about in the family!  If you were the product of a rape, an affair or incest do you really want to know?  Be sure you are prepared for the worst before you open this can of worms!  You might consider counseling before beginning this journey.

6.  I do not recommend anyone under 25 years old search out their bio parents.  I was almost 50 years old when I found my bio family.  They were really a screwed up bunch.  I'm really glad that I did not try to locate them when I was younger - they would have really played "head games" with me if I'd been younger and innocent!  I understand why judges don't want to open adoption records for people -- they are actually trying to protect you from yourselves!

Good luck on your journey.  I wish you only happiness and love at the end of your trail.







2 comments:

  1. There is a search group on Facebook called Texas Adoptee Search and Support. It is an amazing group of people, some helpful search angels but mostly members helping members. The group started last year and already have many success stories of reunion. Also, in Central Texas there is a group called Adoption Knowledge Affiliates (AKA) with monthly meetings and peer support. www.adoptionknowledge.org. In November there is a statewide conference with speakers from a cross the country and notables from Texas. This yeast conference 8a November 4th&5th. Search resources and assistance is available through AKA.

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  2. I helped my dad (then 65) look up his closed adoption in the Harris County records room. There the clerk was very kind and explained that we could go to the court directly and ask if the judge would sign off on the open records request we had completed (very important if you get the chance to do this that you use the words "any and all records pertaining to the birth of ______).

    Graciously he did, and even wished my dad well.

    This happened so easily for a couple of reasons, 1) the time of day was just before or after lunch and the court was empty and the judge was working with his clerks only 2) my dad's adopted and biological parents are all deceased.

    I hope this information helps someone.


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