Arizona denies adult adoptees the right to obtain their own original birth certificates. Release of an OBC requires a court order.
While identifying information may be disclosed to an adult adoptee by court order, it is subject to birth parent consent or veto. Absent birth parent consent, an adult adoptee must demonstrate a “compelling need” for a court to disclose identifying information to the adoptee. The court may also decide “what information, if any, should be disclosed and to whom and under what conditions disclosure may be made.” The Arizona courts also oversee a confidential intermediary program that can be used to determine if information is available and can be released.
Relevant Arizona Law: Original Birth Certificate
Section 36-337. Amending Birth Certificates
A. The state registrar shall amend the birth certificate for a person born in this state when the state registrar receives any of the following:
1. Except as provided in subsection D of this section, an adoption certificate or a court order for adoption required pursuant to section 36-336.
2. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity pursuant to section 25-812.
3. For a person who has undergone a sex change operation or has a chromosomal count that establishes the sex of the person as different than in the registered birth certificate, both of the following:
(a) A written request for an amended birth certificate from the person or, if the person is a child, from the child’s parent or legal guardian.
(b) A written statement by a physician that verifies the sex change operation or chromosomal count.
4. A court order ordering an amendment to a birth certificate.
B. The state registrar shall change the name of the father on a registered birth certificate if:
1. The state registrar receives an administrative order or a court order ordering the state registrar to change the father’s name on the registered birth certificate.
2. Paternity is established through a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity pursuant to section 25-812.
C. If a registered birth certificate does not exist for a person born in this state who is requesting to amend a birth certificate the person making that request shall comply with the requirements established by rule.
D. The state registrar shall retain the information on a person’s registered birth certificate after the person’s adoption if all of the following documents are submitted to the state registrar:
1. A written request to retain the information signed by the adoptive parent or a court order containing a request to retain the information on the registered birth certificate.
2. A written statement agreeing to retain the mother’s name on the person’s registered birth certificate, signed by the mother, or if the mother is deceased, a certified copy of a registered death certificate for the mother.
3. If there is a father’s name stated on the registered birth certificate, a written statement agreeing to retain the father’s name on the person’s registered birth certificate, signed by the father, or if the father is deceased, a certified copy of a registered death certificate for the father.
E. If the state registrar amends a registered birth certificate following adoption, the birth certificate shall state the city or county of birth stated on the existing registered birth certificate and the date of birth stated on the existing registered birth certificate. The state registrar may omit the exact location of birth on the registered birth certificate.
F. If a local registrar or deputy local registrar amends a registered birth certificate, the local registrar or deputy local registrar shall forward all evidentiary documents provided to create the new birth certificate to the state registrar.
G. If the state registrar amends a registered birth certificate, the state registrar shall seal the previously registered birth certificate and the evidentiary documents provided to amend the registered birth certificate. The state registrar shall provide access to a sealed certificate or evidentiary documents only pursuant to section 36-322, a court order issued in this state or as prescribed by rule.
H. If the state registrar receives a court order annulling an adoption, the state registrar shall unseal the sealed registered birth certificate and shall seal the new birth certificate and evidentiary documents.
Relevant Arizona Law: Identifying Information
Section 8-121. Confidentiality of information; exceptions
A. It is unlawful, except for purposes for which files and records or social records or parts thereof or information therefrom have been released pursuant to subsection C of this section or section 8-120, 8-129 or 8-134, or except for purposes permitted by order of the court, for any person to disclose, receive or make use of, or authorize, knowingly permit, participate in or acquiesce in the use of, any information involved in any proceeding under this article directly or indirectly derived from the files, records, reports or other papers compiled pursuant to this article, or acquired in the course of the performance of official duties until one hundred years after the date of the order issued pursuant to section 8-116. After one hundred years has elapsed from the date of the order issued pursuant to section 8-116 the court shall transfer all files, records, reports and other documents in possession of the court relating to the adoption to the Arizona state library, archives and public records. The items transferred pursuant to this subsection shall be available for public inspection during business hours and may be made available in an alternative format.
B. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit persons employed by the court, the division or an agency from conducting the investigations or performing other duties pursuant to this article within the normal course of their employment.
C. This section does not prohibit persons employed by the court, the division, an attorney participating or assisting in a direct placement adoption pursuant to section 8-130 or an agency from providing partial or complete identifying information between a birth parent and adoptive parent when the parties mutually agree to share specific identifying information and make a written request to the court, the division or the agency.
D. A person may petition the court to obtain information relating to an adoption in the possession of the court, the division or any agency or attorney involved in the adoption. Nonidentifying information may be released by the court pursuant to section 8-129. The court shall not release identifying information unless the person requesting the information has established a compelling need for disclosure of the information or consent has been obtained pursuant to subsection E of this section or from the birth parent pursuant to section 8-106. If a compelling need for disclosure of information is established, the court may decide what information, if any, should be disclosed and to whom and under what conditions disclosure may be made.
E. An adoptee who is eighteen years of age or older or a birth parent may file at any time with the court and the agency, division or attorney who participated in the adoption a notarized statement granting consent, withholding consent or withdrawing a consent previously given for the release of confidential information. If an adoptee who is eighteen years of age or older and the birth mother or birth father have filed a notarized statement granting consent to the release of confidential information, the court may disclose information, except identifying information relating to a birth parent who did not grant written consent, to the adoptee or birth parent.
8-106(E). Consent to adoption; waiver; consent to the release of information
E. An agency, the division or an attorney participating or assisting in a direct placement adoption pursuant to section 8-130 shall obtain from a birth parent, at the time consent for adoption is obtained, a notarized statement granting permission or withholding permission for the child being adopted, when the child reaches eighteen years of age, to obtain identifying and nonidentifying information about the child and the consenting birth parent. The agency, division or attorney shall inform the birth parent at the time of obtaining the notarized statement that the decision to grant permission or withhold permission may be changed at any time by filing a notarized statement with the court. The most recent notarized statement shall operate as consent for the court to grant or withhold identifying and nonidentifying information.
Relevant Arizona Law: Adoption Records
8-120. Records; inspection; exception; destruction or transfer of certain records
A. Except as provided in section 8-129, all files, records, reports and other papers compiled under this article, whether filed in or in possession of the court, an agency or any person or association, shall be withheld from public inspection.
B. Such files, records, reports and other papers may be open to inspection by persons and agencies having a legitimate interest in the case and their attorneys and by other persons and agencies having a legitimate interest in the protection, welfare or treatment of the child if so ordered by the court.
C. This section does not prohibit persons employed by the court, the division or an agency from conducting the investigations or performing other duties pursuant to this article within the normal course of their employment.
D. This section does not prohibit persons employed by the court, the division, an attorney participating or assisting in a direct placement adoption pursuant to section 8-130 or an agency from providing partial or complete identifying information between a birth parent and adoptive parent when the parties mutually agree to share specific identifying information and make a written request to the court, the division or the agency.
E. Except for files that belong to an attorney, all files, records, reports and other papers not filed in or in the possession of the court shall not be destroyed until after a ninety-nine year period. The files that belong to an attorney shall not be destroyed until after a seven-year period.
F. If an adoption agency ceases operations, the adoption agency shall do all of the following:
1. Transfer the documents described in subsection A of this section to the division or to another adoption agency in this state if the documents concern a matter that is closed.
2. Transfer the documents described in subsection A of this section to another adoption agency in this state if the documents concern a matter that is open.
3. Notify the division of the transfer of any documents to another adoption agency in this state pursuant to this subsection.
4. Notify all adoptive parents whose files it is transferring pursuant to this subsection of the transfer.
A. Before placing a child for adoption, the division or the agency or the person placing the child, if the child is not placed by the division, shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents detailed written nonidentifying information including a health and genetic history and all nonidentifying information about the birth parents or members of a birth parent’s family set forth in a document that is separate from any document containing identifying information. This subsection does not apply if the birth parents are deceased, their whereabouts are unknown or the information is not otherwise reasonably available.
B. Records containing the information prescribed in subsection A:
1. Shall be retained by the division, agency or person for ninety-nine years, and if an agency or person ceases to function, the agency or person shall transfer these records to the division, except that an agency ceasing operations may transfer these records to another agency within this state, provided the agency transferring the records gives notice of the transfer to the division.
2. May be supplemented with information supplied by any member of the birth family, any member of the adoptive family or an adult adoptee or the family of an adult adoptee. Supplemental information supplied to the division or the agency or the person who placed the child shall be filed with all other information concerning the adoption.
3. Shall be available on request throughout the ninety-nine year period, together with any other information described in subsection A which is added, to the following persons only:
(a) The adoptive parents of the child or, if the adoptive parents have died, the child’s guardian.
(b) The adoptee if he is eighteen or more years of age.
(c) If the adoptee has died, the adoptee’s spouse if he is the legal parent of the adoptee’s child or the guardian of any child of the adoptee.
(d) If the adoptee has died, any progeny of the adoptee who is eighteen or more years of age.
(e) The birth parent of the adoptee or other biological children of the birth parent.
C. The actual and reasonable cost of providing information pursuant to this section shall be paid by the person requesting the information.