Adult adopted people in Alabama have an unrestricted right to request and obtain their own original birth certificates, beginning at age 19. Upon request for a sealed OBC, an adoptee—as well as any person who had an original birth certificate removed from the registrar’s files due to legitimation or a paternity determination—will receive a non-certified copy of the OBC as well as “any evidence of the adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination held with the original record.”
A birth parent may file a contact preference form that sets forth the parent’s preference for any contact. The form provides only the parent’s preference for contact, whether directly, through an intermediary, or no contact at all. The contact preference form does not operate as a disclosure veto or tool for redacting identifying information.
Relevant Alabama Law: Original Birth Certificate
New birth certificate upon adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination; availability of original certificate; contact preference form.
(a) The State Registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in this state upon receipt of any of the following:
(1) A report of adoption as provided in Section 22-9A-11 or a report of adoption prepared and filed in accordance with the laws of another state, the District of Columbia, a territory of the United States, or a foreign country, or a certified copy of the decree of adoption, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish a new certificate of birth. A new certificate of birth shall not be established if so requested by the court decreeing the adoption.
(2) A request that a new certificate be established upon completion of the legitimation procedure specified in Sections 26-11-2 and 26-17-6. If the name of another man is shown as the father of the child on the original certificate, a new certificate may be prepared only when a determination of paternity is made by a court of competent jurisdiction or following adoption.
(3) A certified copy of a valid court determination of paternity that establishes the name of the father and decrees the name the child is to bear together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth.
(b) The new certificate of birth prepared as a result of subsection (a) shall be on the form in use at the time of its preparation and shall include all of the following items and other information necessary to complete the certificate:
(1) The name of the child.
(2) The actual place and date of birth as shown on the original certificate.
(3) The names and personal particulars of the adoptive parents or of the natural parents, whichever is appropriate.
(4) The name of the attendant.
(5) The birth number assigned to the original birth certificate.
(6) The original filing date.
(c) The new certificate shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth in the files, and the original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the foregoing, any person 19 years of age or older who was born in the State of Alabama and who has had an original birth certificate removed from the files due to an adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination may, upon written request, receive a copy of that birth certificate and any evidence of the adoption, legitimation, or paternity determination held with the original record. The copy of the original birth certificate shall be in a form that clearly indicates it is not a certified copy and that it may not be used for legal purposes. All procedures, fees, and waiting periods applicable to non-adopted citizens born in the State of Alabama seeking copies of certificates of birth shall apply.
(d) A birth parent may at any time request from the State Registrar of Vital Statistics a contact preference form that shall accompany a birth certificate issued under subsection (c).
The contact preference form shall provide the following information to be completed at the option of the birth parent:
(1) I would like to be contacted.
(2) I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary.
(3) I prefer not to be contacted at this time. If I decide later that I would like to be contacted, I will submit an updated contact preference form to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics. I have completed an updated medical history form and have filed it with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
The medical history form shall be in a form prescribed by the Department of Vital Statistics and shall be supplied to the birth parent upon request of a contact preference form from the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
Only those persons who are authorized to process applications made under subsection (c) may process contact preference and medical history forms.
The medical history form and contact preference form are confidential communications from the birth parent to the person named on the sealed birth certificate and shall be placed in a sealed envelope upon receipt from the birth parent. The sealed envelope shall be matched with and placed in the file containing the sealed birth certificate.
The sealed envelope containing the contact preference form and medical history form shall be released to a person requesting his or her own original birth certificate under subsection (c). The contact preference form and medical history form are a private communication from the birth parent to the person named on the sealed birth certificate and no copies of the forms shall be retained by the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
Relevant Alabama Law: Court Records
Section 26-10A-31. Confidentiality of records, hearing; parties.
(a) After the petition is filed and prior to the entry of the final decree, the records in adoption proceedings shall be open to inspection only by the petitioner or his or her attorney, the investigator appointed under Section 26-10A-19, any attorney appointed for the adoptee under Section 26-10A-22, and any attorney retained by or appointed to represent the adoptee. Such records shall be open to other persons only upon order of court for good cause shown.
(b) All hearings in adoption proceedings shall be confidential and shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than interested parties and their counsel, except with leave of court.
(c) After the final decree of adoption has been entered, all papers, pleadings, and other documents pertaining to the adoption shall be sealed, kept as a permanent record of the court, and withheld from inspection except as otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12. No person shall have access to such records except upon order of the court in which the decree of adoption was entered for good cause shown except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12.
(d) When the court issues the adoption order, all licensed agencies or individuals shall send a sealed information summary sheet and the non-identifying information referred to in subsection (g) in a separate summary sheet to the State Department of Human Resources. The following information shall be included:
(1) Birthname and adoptive name;
(2) Date and place of birth of person adopted, except in the case of abandonment;
(3) Circumstances under which the child came to be placed for adoption;
(4) Physical and mental condition of the person adopted, insofar as this can be determined by the aid of competent medical authority;
(5) Name and last known address of natural parents, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, if known;
(6) Age of the natural parents at child’s birth;
(7) Nationality, ethnic background, race, and religious preference of the natural parents;
(8) Educational level of the natural parents;
(9) Pre-adoptive brother/sister relationships;
(10) Whether the identity and location of the natural father is known or ascertainable.
(e) The State Department of Human Resources and the investigating agency’s adoption records must be kept for a minimum term of 75 years. If a licensed child placing agency ceases to operate in Alabama, all adoption records of the agency, including those of the child, the natural family, and the adoptive family, shall be transferred to the Department of Human Resources.
(f) Except as otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, all files of the investigating office or agency appointed by the court under Section 26-10A-19 shall be confidential and shall be withheld from inspection except upon order of the court for good cause shown.
(g) Notwithstanding subsection (f) of this section, the State Department of Human Resources or the licensed investigating agency appointed by the court pursuant to Section 26-10A-19(b) and (c), shall furnish, upon request, to the petitioners, natural parents, or an adoptee 19 years of age or older, nonidentifying information which shall be limited to the following:
(1) Health and medical histories of the adoptee’s natural parents;
(2) The health and medical history of the adoptee;
(3) The adoptee’s general family background, including ancestral information, without name references or geographical designations;
(4) Physical descriptions;
(5) The length of time the adoptee was in the care and custody of one other than the petitioner; and
(6) Circumstances under which the child comes to be placed for adoption.
(h) Notwithstanding subsection (f), if either the natural mother or the natural or presumed father have given consent in writing under oath to disclosure of identifying information as defined in subsection (d) and which is not otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, the State Department of Human Resources or a licensed child placing agency shall release such identifying information.
(i) If the court finds that any person has a compelling need for nonidentifying information not otherwise available under subsection (e) of this section which only can be obtained through contact with the adoptee, the adoptee’s parents, an alleged or presumed father of the adoptee, or the adoptee’s adoptive parents, the court shall direct the agency or a mutually agreed upon intermediary, to furnish such information or to establish contact with the adoptee, the adoptee’s natural parents, the alleged or presumed father of the adoptee, or the adoptive parents of the adoptee in order to obtain the information needed without disclosure of identifying information to or about the applicant. The information then shall be filed with the court and released to the applicant within the discretion of the court. However, the identity and whereabouts of the person or persons contacted shall remain confidential.
(j) Notwithstanding any subsection of this section to the contrary, when an adult adoptee reaches the age of 19, the adoptee may petition the court for the disclosure of identifying information as defined in subsection (d) and which is not otherwise provided for in this section or in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, if a natural or presumed parent has not previously given consent under subsection (h). The court shall direct an intermediary to contact the natural parents to determine if the natural parents will consent to the release of identifying information. If the natural parents consent to the release of identifying information the court shall so direct. If the natural parents are deceased, cannot be found, or do not consent to the release of identifying information then the court shall weigh the interest and rights of all of the parties and determine if the identifying information should be released without the consent of the natural parents.