Original Birth Certificates. Alaska is an Unrestricted State. Alaska-born adopted people have always had an unrestricted right, at age 18, to request and obtain their own original birth certificates. While the record is sealed after an adoption, it has always been available in Alaska upon request of the adult adopted person.
Court Records. Court adoption records are confidential and sealed. They can only be released upon consent of the court and only upon extraordinary circumstances. If the court terminated parental rights on account of a pregnancy that resulted from sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, or incest, court records are only available by consent of all interested persons and upon court order for good cause shown.
People are Not Secrets. Alaska law provides that a new certificate of birth after an adoption will not be established “if so requested by the court decreeing the adoption, the adoptive parents, or the adopted person if the adopted person is of legal age.” Accordingly, birthparents have no control over issuance of a new birth certificate nor any guarantee that the original birth certificate will ever be sealed.
Identifying Information. Identifying information is not available through the court or vital records, except by court order or what is available through the release of the adopted person’s original birth certificate. While background non-identifying information is submitted to the court in an adoption, that information is forwarded to vital records for release when the adopted person requests the original birth certificate.
Descendant Rights. Descendants and ancestors of an Alaska-born adopted person do not have the right to request and obtain a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate. A court order is required.
Adult Adoption. Alaska law provides for adoption of adults. Only the consent of the adult to be adopted is necessary, unless the adult is married or incapacitated. Married adults must obtain the consent of their spouse to complete an adult adoption.
Alaska Law: Vital Records and Birth Certificates
Relevant parts of Alaska vital records law. The entire Alaska vital records statute is available here.
Sec. 18.50.170. Foundling registration
(a) The person who assumes the custody of a living infant of unknown parentage shall within seven days report the information prescribed by the state registrar on a form and in the manner prescribed by the state registrar to the local registrar of the registration district in which the child was found.
(b) The place where the child was found shall be entered as the place of birth and the date of birth shall be determined by approximation.
(c) A report registered under this section constitutes the certificate of birth for the infant.
(d) If the child is identified and a certificate of birth is found or obtained, a report registered under this section shall be sealed and filed in accordance with instructions of the state registrar, and may be opened only by order of a superior court or as provided by regulation.
Sec. 18.50.210. Court reports of adoption
(a) For each adoption decreed by a court in the state, the court shall require the preparation of a report of adoption on a form prescribed and furnished by the bureau. The report must include the facts necessary to locate and identify the original certificate of birth, if any, of the person adopted. If the person being adopted was born in the state, the report must provide information necessary to establish a new certificate of birth. If the person being adopted was born outside the United States, the report must provide findings, if requested by the adoptive parents, or other information necessary to establish a certificate of birth. The report must identify the order of adoption, and be certified by the court or the clerk.
(b) The petitioner or the attorney for the petitioner shall furnish with the petition for adoption information in the possession of the petitioner necessary to prepare the adoption report. The social welfare agency or other person concerned shall supply the court with additional information necessary to complete the report if the information is in the possession of the agency or the person. The furnishing of the information is a prerequisite to the issuance of a final decree in the matter.
(c) Whenever an adoption decree is amended or vacated, the court shall prepare a report on a form prescribed and furnished by the bureau. The report must include the facts necessary to identify the original adoption report and the facts amended in the adoption decree necessary to properly amend the original report, or the new certificate of birth if already established.
(d) Before the 11th day of each calendar month, the court shall forward to the bureau reports of decrees of adoption, including those vacated or amended, that were entered in the preceding month, together with the related reports the bureau requires.
(e) When the bureau receives a report of an adoption, or vacation or amendment of an adoption from a court for a person born in the United States but outside the state, a copy shall be made for the bureau’s files and the original shall be forwarded to the appropriate registration authority in the state of birth.
Sec. 18.50.211. Certificate of birth for foreign-born adopted person
(a) The state registrar shall issue a certificate of birth for a person born outside the United States whose adoptive parents are residents of the state at the time of the adoption, upon request by the adopted person, or by the adopted person’s adoptive parent or guardian that the certificate be made, and upon receipt of an adoption report as provided in AS 18.50.210 together with
(1) the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth; or
(2) if there is no original certificate of birth, the findings of the court under AS 25.23.175, unless the adoption proceeding is commenced before August 31, 1982, in which case an affidavit of an adoptive parent setting out the true or probable date and place of birth and parentage of the adopted person must accompany the adoption report.
(b) [Repealed, § 2 ch 14 SLA 1995.]
(c) A certificate of birth issued under this section shall be in a form prescribed by the state registrar and shall state that it is not evidence of United States citizenship.
(d) Upon proof of naturalization an amended certificate of birth shall be issued under this section that deletes the statement that the certificate is not evidence of United States citizenship.
Sec. 18.50.220. New certificate of birth
(a) The state registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in the state, upon proper request that the certificate be made, and upon receipt of
(1) an adoption report as provided in AS 18.50.210, or a certified copy of the decree of adoption from a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish the new certificate of birth; however, a new certificate of birth may not be established if so requested by the court decreeing the adoption, the adoptive parents, or the adopted person if the adopted person is of legal age; or
(2) the evidence required by law and regulation proving that the person has been legitimated.
(b) When a new certificate of birth is established, the actual place and date of birth shall be shown. The new certificate shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth, and
(1) thereafter, in the case of an adoption, the original certificate and the evidence of adoption are not subject to inspection except as provided in AS 18.50.500 – 18.50.510 or by order of the superior court under AS 25.23.150, but the state registrar shall allow inspection by an agent of the state or federal government acting in the performance of the agent’s official duties; in the case of a legitimation, the original certificate and the evidence of legitimation are not subject to inspection except upon order of the superior court or as provided by regulation; however, the regulation shall allow inspection by an agent of the state or federal government acting in the performance of the agent’s official duties;
(2) upon receipt of a report that an adoption has been vacated, the original certificate of birth shall be restored to its place in the files and the new certificate and evidence are not subject to inspection except upon order of a superior court.
(c) If no certificate of birth is on file for the person for whom a new certificate is to be established under this section, a delayed certificate of birth shall be filed with the bureau as provided in this chapter before a new certificate of birth may be established.
(d) When a new certificate of birth is established by the state registrar, the state registrar shall direct the disposition of and substitution for all copies of the original certificate of birth in the custody of a local registrar of vital statistics or other local custodian of the records. When an adoption has been vacated, the state registrar shall instruct the local officials as to a necessary action.
Sec. 18.50.500. Identity of biological parents
(a) After receiving a request by an adopted person 18 years of age or older for the identity of a biological parent of the person, the state registrar shall provide the person with an uncertified copy of the person’s original birth certificate and any change in the biological parent’s name or address attached to the certificate.
(b) The state registrar may not disclose the name and address of a biological parent, except as required under (a) of this section or by the court under AS 25.23.150.
(c) An adopted person 18 years of age or older, or a biological parent, may submit to the state registrar a notice of change of name or address. The state registrar shall attach the information to the original birth certificate of the adopted person.
(d) The state registrar shall disclose to a biological parent, at that parent’s request, the most current name and address of an adopted child that appear in the state registrar’s adoption files if the child is 18 years of age or older and has requested in writing that the information be disclosed if ever requested by the biological parent.
Sec. 18.50.510. Descriptive information regarding biological parents
(a) The state registrar shall, at the request of an adoptive parent or of an adopted person 18 years of age or older, release the following information regarding a biological parent named on the original birth certificate of the adopted person if available from the registrar’s adoption records:
(1) the age of the biological parent on the day the adopted person was born;
(2) the heritage of the biological parent, to include
(A) national origin;
(B) ethnic background; and
(C) tribal membership;
(3) the medical history of the biological parent and of blood relatives of the biological parent;
(4) the number of years of school completed by the biological parent by the day the adopted person was born;
(5) a physical description of the biological parent on the day the adopted person was born, including height, weight, and color of hair, eyes, and skin;
(6) the existence of other children of the biological parent;
(7) whether the biological parent was alive at the time of adoption;
(8) the religion of the biological parent; and
(9) other information provided by the biological parent for disclosure to the child, which may include such items as photographs, letters, and a statement explaining the reasons for the adoption.
(b) Information released under (a) of this section shall be on a standard form prepared by the commissioner. The information may not include the name of a biological parent or other information not listed in (a) of this section.
Relevant Alaska Law: Adoption Information and Court Records
Relevant portions of Alaska’s adoption law related to court records and information. The entire Alaska adoption statute is available here.
Sec. 25.23.150. Confidential nature of hearings and records in adoption proceedings
(a) All hearings held in proceedings under this chapter shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, their witnesses, counsel, persons who have not previously consented to the adoption but are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.
(b) The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) that are a part of the permanent record of a court are subject to inspection only upon consent of the court. The papers and records relating to an adoption or a termination of parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c)(2) on file with the department, an agency, or an individual are subject to inspection only with consent of all interested persons or by order of a court for good cause shown. Except as provided in this section, adoption records of the Bureau of Vital Statistics are subject to inspection under the provisions of AS 18.50.
(c) Except as otherwise provided by law, or as authorized in writing by the adopted child, if 14 or more years of age, or by the adoptive parent, or upon order of the court for good cause shown, a person may not disclose the identity or address of an adoptive parent, an adopted child, a child who is the subject of a proceeding under AS 25.23.180(c)(2), or a biological parent whose parental rights have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2).
(d) The court may order the disclosure of a natural parent’s identity or address only if:
(1) the court makes an express finding that the disclosure is required because of a medical necessity or other extraordinary circumstance; and
(2) the natural parent unless the parent’s parental rights have been terminated on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2), the child, and the adoptive parents are afforded proper notice and a hearing; the court may waive the hearing and notice requirement if it finds there is a medical necessity that poses an immediate risk to life.
Sec. 25.23.185. Records and information
(a) At the time a petition for adoption is filed with the court, the agency or individual placing the person for adoption, or the petitioner, shall file with the court, for release to the state registrar of vital statistics, the following information, or an explanation of its unavailability, on forms provided by the department:
(1) the address of each parent named on the original birth certificate; and
(2) background information required under AS 18.50.510.
(b) Upon entry of a decree of adoption, the clerk of the court shall transmit to the Bureau of Vital Statistics the information provided under (a) of this section. The bureau shall attach the information to the original birth certificate of the adopted person.
(c) A child adoption agency licensed under former AS 47.35 and a child placement agency licensed under AS 47.32 shall maintain records of the information required to be furnished to the court under this section or under regulations of the commissioner implementing this section. If a child adoption agency or child placement agency ceases to place persons for adoption, it shall transfer its records to the commissioner.
Sec. 25.23.160. Recognition of foreign decree affecting adoption.
A decree of court terminating the relationship of parent and child or establishing the relationship by adoption issued under due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or outside of the United States shall be recognized in this state and the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this state shall be determined as though the decree were issued by a court of this state.
Sec. 25.23.170. Applications for birth certificates
Within 30 days after an adoption decree becomes final, the clerk of the court shall, if requested by the adoptive parents, prepare an application for a birth certificate in the name of the adopted person. Upon issuing a decree terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) the court may order the preparation of an application for a birth certificate in the name of the child without reference to the parent whose parental rights have been terminated. The clerk of the court shall forward the application
(1) for a person born in the United States, to the appropriate vital statistics office of the place, if known, where the adopted person was born and a copy of the decree to the department for statistical purposes; and
(2) for a person born outside the United States to the state registrar of vital statistics.
Sec. 25.23.175. Findings concerning persons born outside the United States
In the case of the adoption of a person born outside the United States, if requested by the adoptive parents, the court shall make findings, based on evidence from the petitioner and other reliable state or federal sources, on the date and place of birth and parentage of the adopted person. The findings shall be certified by the court and included with the report of adoption filed with the state registrar of vital statistics under AS 18.50.210.
Alaska Law: Adoption Generally
Relevant portions from Alaska’s adoption law. The entire adoption statute is available here.
Sec. 25.23.010. Who may be adopted
Any person may be adopted.
Sec. 25.23.020. Who may adopt
(a) The following persons may adopt:
(1) a husband and wife together;
(2) an unmarried adult;
(3) the unmarried father or mother of the person to be adopted;
(4) a married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the person to be adopted is not the other spouse, and if
(A) the other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption;
(B) the petitioner and the other spouse are legally separated; or
(C) the failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to agree to the adoption is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of consent.
(b) Nothing in this section affects legitimation under AS 25.20.050.
Sec. 25.23.040. Persons required to consent to adoption
(a) Unless consent is not required under AS 25.23.050, a petition to adopt a minor may be granted only if written consent to a particular adoption has been executed by
(1) the mother of the minor;
(2) the father of the minor, if the father was married to the mother at the time the minor was conceived or at any time after conception, the minor is the father’s child by adoption, or the father has otherwise legitimated the minor under the laws of the state;
(3) any person lawfully entitled to custody of the minor or empowered to consent;
(4) the court having jurisdiction to determine custody of the minor, if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the minor is not empowered to consent to the adoption;
(5) the minor, if 10 years of age or older, unless the court in the best interest of the minor dispenses with the minor’s consent; and
(6) the spouse of the minor to be adopted.
(b) A petition to adopt an adult may be granted only if written consent to adoption has been executed by the adult and the adult’s spouse or by the guardian or conservator of an incapacitated adult.
Sec. 25.23.070. Withdrawal of consent
(a) A consent to adoption may not be withdrawn after the entry of a decree of adoption.
(b) A consent to adoption may be withdrawn before the entry of a decree of adoption, within 10 days after the consent is given, by delivering written notice to the person obtaining the consent, or after the 10-day period, if the court finds, after notice and opportunity to be heard is afforded to petitioner, the person seeking the withdrawal, and the agency placing the child for adoption, that the withdrawal is in the best interest of the person to be adopted and the court orders the withdrawal.
Sec. 25.23.125. Preference of minor to be adopted; guardian ad litem; protective orders
(a) If the person to be adopted is a minor under the age of 10 and the person is of sufficient age and intelligence to state desires concerning the adoption, the court shall consider the person’s desires.
(b) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or attorney, or both, under AS 25.24.310 for a minor who is to be adopted or for a minor whose parent is the subject of a petition to terminate parental rights under AS 25.23.180(c).
(c) The court may issue a protective order or other order that is in the best interest of a minor who is to be adopted.
Sec. 25.23.130. Effect of adoption decree; effect of termination of parental rights
(a) A final decree of adoption, whether issued by a court of this state or of any other state, has the following effect as to matters within the jurisdiction or before a court of this state:
(1) except with respect to a spouse of the petitioner and relatives of the spouse, to relieve the natural parents of the adopted person of all parental rights and responsibilities, and, except as provided in (c) of this section, to terminate all legal relationships between the adopted person and the natural parents and other relatives of the adopted person, so that the adopted person thereafter is a stranger to the former relatives for all purposes including inheritance, unless the decree of adoption specifically provides for continuation of inheritance rights, and the interpretation or construction of documents, statutes, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, that do not expressly include the person by name or by some designation not based on a parent and child or blood relationship; and
(2) to create the relationship of parent and child between petitioner and the adopted person, as if the adopted person were a legitimate blood descendant of the petitioner, for all purposes including inheritance and applicability of statutes, documents, and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption is decreed, that do not expressly exclude an adopted person from their operation or effect.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of (a) of this section, if a parent of a child dies without the relationship of parent and child having been previously terminated and a spouse of the living parent thereafter adopts the child, the child’s right of inheritance from or through the deceased parent is unaffected by the adoption.
(c) Nothing in this chapter prohibits an adoption that allows visitation between the adopted person and that person’s natural parents or other relatives.
(d) Except as provided in (e) and (f) of this section, a decree terminating parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) voids all legal relationships between the child and the biological parent so that the child is a stranger to the biological parent and to relatives of the biological parent for all purposes, including interpretation of documents executed before or after the termination of parental rights that do not include the child by name or by a description not based on a parental or blood relationship.
(e) Inheritance rights between a child and a biological parent are not voided by a decree terminating parental rights on the grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) unless the decree specifically provides for the termination of inheritance rights.
(f) A decree ordering termination of parental rights between a biological parent and a child on the grounds specified in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) does not relieve the biological parent of an obligation to pay child support unless the decree specifically provides for the termination of the obligation to pay child support. A child support obligation under this subsection does not entitle the obligor to contact or otherwise maintain a relationship with the child.
Sec. 25.23.140. Appeal and validation of adoption decree
(a) An appeal from any final order or decree rendered under this chapter may be taken in the manner and time provided for appeal from a judgment in a civil action.
(b) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, upon the expiration of one year after an adoption decree is issued, the decree may not be questioned by any person including the petitioner, in any manner upon any ground, including fraud, misrepresentation, failure to give any required notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter, unless, in the case of the adoption of a minor the petitioner has not taken custody of the minor, or, in the case of the adoption of an adult, the adult had no knowledge of the decree within the one-year period.
(c) Subject to the disposition of an appeal, one year after a decree is issued terminating parental rights on grounds set out in AS 25.23.180(c)(2) , the order may not be challenged on any ground, including fraud, misrepresentation, failure to give notice, or lack of jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter.
Teresa Gonzales says
Thank you so much for this. I’m an adoptee from Anchorage Alaska. I’d just mustered the courage to order my ancestry DNA kit and checked on how I could find my birth parents and BAM, ran into this site. Kismet perhaps. Anywho, you rock. Thanks again.
Gregory D. Luce says
Wow, thanks! And you’re the first person I’ve “met” who was adopted in Alaska!
Connie Sides says
I am also an adoptee from Anchorage, Alaska and am happy to have found this site.
If any of those agencies know you are adopted, they may not give you your true identity, but relatives 5 generations back like they did me. I’m part of a tribe, but yet I have no cousins? Yes even the folks at any DNA company will look up possibly your adoptive parents’ long-distance relatives only. Thats what happened to me at Family Tree DNA.
Takara Dalton says
Hi, I have been helping someone look for a sibling. Do you happen to be half Iñupiaq?
Denise Robinson says
I too was adopted in Anchorage. My situation may be a little different in a sense that my birth mother raised me she just allowed my adoptive father to adopt me after they married. I was 8 months old. Trying to discover my birth father is a struggle. Especially since my mother died young and I am unable to ask her questions. Thank you for all of this. I believe we all deserve some bit of answers.
Nettie Cox says
Nettie Cox, I gave up my son in Anchorage,Alaska, in 1961 at ten months of age due to things i could not control. I was married and have been divorced for many years as i am almost 80 years old now and have been searching for him ever since he turned 18 years of age and no luck. they used to tell me at vitals in Juneau,Alaska when i called if he had ever contacted them for info but the one they have in there now will not tell you anything.There is Medical problems in my family that i think he needed to know about.I have asked for his original birth cert. but no such luck.It went thru Social Services, Anchorage,Alaska. Should i just give up and let it go or is there any hope? He would be in his late 50s now.Thanks N.Cox, 09/04/2019
erik gjovig says
Don’t give up. I’m 38 and was adopted in seward alaska in 1983 (my birth) and I’m just now beginning to search for my biological mother. I promise, no matter what happens, know that your child thinks of you often.
Don’t feel bad Nettie they did that to me too. I did meet my son but if it was left up to the state of Alaska that would never have happened. 2 weeks before he turned 18 I put a letter into the state stating my son could contact me. When he turned 18 he did come back to Alaska looking for me, but the letter was gone. And so the state denied him any info about me. Then he went to an agency and they found me. What a beautiful surprise. And also to find out what the state does with written requests is terrible.
Serena Hayes says
Hello I was adopted when I was a little girl and I don’t have much information at all about my biological family but I do know my mothers name if you can help me please
Chandar R Pass says
Hello, my name is chandar, and I was be adopted in 1979 in Fairbanks Ak, when was 24 hours old, I am looking for my birth parents and possible siblings. Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated 😊.
For starters and I promise I am telling you all facts. I’ve found all of my siblings FINALLY after 40 years.
Call the clerk in the courthouse where you were adopted and have them send you all the information that you need in order to get ALL of your adoption records, your original birth certificate ect. Also don’t believe anything your adopted parents told you just seek your own truth. I learned a lot in my search and the best way is to look yourself. Find out the facts of why you were adopted and if you’re native and registered with a tribe please contact them as well
John J. Lehe says
My name is John Lehe (Pronounced Lee) and I have been an investigator for over 30 years and I have personally located many missing or abducted children during my career. In 2017, I located 3 siblings living in Wyoming who were taken from Alaska in 2012 when they were very young. I have also reunited many families who were separated as a result of adoption. I located my niece’s biological father and I have helped other family members over the years. I even tracked down my adopted daughter’s biological father when she was 18 and put them in contact. I felt she deserved to have contact with her biological father. I currently work as the Lead Investigator for the State of Alaska, Department of Administration earning a good income and so I do not require payment for my services. My compensation is derived from the fulfillment of helping families reunite, as they should. I work on a case by case basis because I do not have much time to dedicate towards these endeavors and do this on my own personal time. My personal email is [email protected].
Jenni Burgoon says
If anyone is needing help locating their bio family please contact John Lehe (see his comment above). I saw his comment on this site and I emailed him asking if he could help locate my bio dad. Within five minutes he emailed me back and within two hours we were on the phone discussing what information I knew. Within 30 minutes of getting off the phone, he found him! I had been casually looking for him for years and found nothing and he found him in 30 minutes!! Less than two weeks later I have reached out to my bio dad and he should be responding soon. John is very professional and I very much appreciated his experience during this process. I would highly recommend contacting him to see if he can help you as well.
Father was in Air Force stationed in Anchorage. They adopted me in Juneau in 1974-1975. I did an ancestry dot com dna Kit. Found a half sister. She believes we have 3 other brothers.
I’m all the way in Texas, and only have the birth certificate signed by the judge. No other paperwork. I just found this out.
Dustin Mayo says
My name is Sammy aka Dustin and I’m looking for my birth mother and came across your website and I was curious about getting my orginal birth records here in Alaska
Kimberly Parton says
My name is Kimberly I’m in search of my sibling whome was born May 20th 1972 thier birth mothers name would be Catherine Ann
Born in Anchorage Alaska was a private adoption I believe. Ive been searching for along time any information would be greatly appreciated. Been trying to fill the hole that’s been there along time . God bless to all
Pravina Lal says
Hi! How can I do this on behalf of my deceased mother, who was a Fairbanks adoptee in 1967? Myself and my siblings would really appreciate knowing where our roots begin.
Danell Jean Bickford says
I am an adoptee born in Ketchikan Alaska September 25, 1961. I applied for and received my original birth certificate in 2007. My name at the time of my birth was Della Ray Milner. I have since located a full sister who was born in 1967 however my original BC lists 3 siblings older than I. One of those sibling is a girl born in March 31, 1960, also born in Ketchikan, whom I just made contact with today through my youngest sister. Her name is Jeanette. She didn’t know she had any siblings until she did an ancestry DNA test and it located a brother. His name is Larry Fleck. She spoke to him 1 time. My 3 older siblings and I were abandoned by our bio mom in a motel room in 1962, all of us ending up in the Kerr Children’s Home in Portland Oregon. My younger sister (I know is my sister because we did a DNA test showing we are 98.9% related) was born in Feb. 1967 and later was abandoned by our bio mom in Georgia where Jodi, (My youngest sister) was raised, never adopted. How can I get more info on the other siblings? I believe both of my bio parents are deceased.