Original Birth Certificates. Hawaii is a Compromised State. Not all adopted people born in Hawaii may obtain copies of their own original birth certificates or records. While people who are adopted in Hawaii may request and obtain their court adoption records, the law does not apply to people who are born in Hawaii but adopted in a different state. Conversely, those born outside of Hawaii but adopted in the state have a right to request and obtain their court records. More details about this important distinction and who it impacts is here, including a recommended legislative fix.
Court Records. Court records are released upon application of an adult adopted person who is at least 18 years of age (see above). The records may also be requested and released to a birthparent if the adopted person is at least 18 years of age. All other requests for release of court records must demonstrate good cause for the release. It is possible that the court records do not contain a copy of the adopted person’s original birth certificate. In such cases the law does not specify if the court could order the Hawaii Department of Health to release the OBC to the adopted person or to the adopted person’s birthparent. Adoptive parents, after issuance of the adoption decree, may request that the court’s records not be sealed.
Identifying Information. The laws of Hawaii do not directly address release of identifying information, other than release of information from adoption court records.
Descendant Rights. Descendants and ancestors of an adopted person do not have specific rights to request or obtain identifying information or a copy of the adoptee’s original birth record, other than through a court order. For court or vital records, a descendant or relative of the adopted person must demonstrate good cause to obtain the records.
Adult Adoption. Hawaii law provides for the adoption of adults. The law simply states that “[a]ny person may be adopted . . . provided that an adult to be adopted must give written consent to the adoption.” If married, written consent is also required of the adult adopted person’s spouse.
Laws of Hawaii: Vital Records and Original Birth Certificates
Relevant partis of Hawaii vital records law. The entire Hawaii vital records statute is available here.
§ 338-7. Registration of foundlings; foundling report
(a) Whoever assumes the custody of a living child of unknown parentage shall immediately report, on a form to be approved by the department of health, to the local agent of the department the following:
(1) Date and place of finding or assumption of custody;
(3) Color or race;
(4) Approximate age of child;
(5) Name and address of the person or institution with whom the child has been placed for care;
(6) Name given to the child by the finder or custodian.
(b) The place where the child was found or custody assumed shall be known as the place of birth, and the date of birth shall be determined by approximation.
(c) The foundling report shall constitute the certificate of birth.
(d) If a foundling child is identified and a regular certificate of birth is found or obtained, the report shall be sealed and filed and may be opened only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
§ 338-17.7. Establishment of new certificates of birth, when
(a) The department of health shall establish, in the following circumstances, a new certificate of birth for a person born in this State who already has a birth certificate filed with the department and who is referred to below as the “birth registrant”:
(1) Upon receipt of an affidavit of paternity, a court order establishing paternity, or a certificate of marriage establishing the marriage of the natural parents to each other, together with a request from the birth registrant, or the birth registrant’s parent or other person having legal custody of the birth registrant, that a new birth certificate be prepared because previously recorded information has been altered pursuant to law;
(2) Upon receipt of a certified copy of a final order, judgment, or decree of a court of competent jurisdiction that determined the nonexistence of a parent and child relationship between a person identified as a parent on the birth certificate on file and the birth registrant;
(3) Upon receipt of a certified copy of a final adoption decree, or of an abstract of the decree, pursuant to sections 338-20 and 578-14;
(4) Upon receipt of an affidavit from a United States licensed physician attesting that:
(A) The physician has a bona fide physician-patient relationship with the birth registrant;
(B) The physician has treated and evaluated the birth registrant and has reviewed and evaluated the birth registrant’s medical history;
(C) The birth registrant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender and has completed the transition to the new gender; and
(D) The new gender does not align with the sex designation on the birth registrant’s birth certificate; or
(5) Upon request of a law enforcement agency certifying that a new birth certificate showing different information would provide for the safety of the birth registrant; provided that the new birth certificate shall contain information requested by the law enforcement agency, shall be assigned a new number and filed accordingly, and shall not substitute for the birth registrant’s original birth certificate, which shall remain in place.
(b) When a new certificate of birth is established under this section, it shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth. The new certificate shall not be marked as amended and shall in no way reveal the original language changed by any amendment. Thereafter, the original certificate and the evidence supporting the preparation of the new certificate shall be sealed and filed. The sealed documents shall be opened only by an order of a court of record or, for those documents amended pursuant to subsection (a)(4), by request of the birth registrant.
(c) If a new certificate of birth is established under subsection (a)(4), it shall reflect, or shall be reissued to reflect, any legal name change made before, simultaneously, or after the change in sex designation; provided appropriate documentation of the name change is submitted.
(d) If a new certificate of birth is established under subsection (a)(4), the department shall not require any additional medical information or records other than those required by subsection (a)(4).
§ 338-17.8. Certificates for children born out of State
(a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.
(b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.
(c) The fee for each application for registration shall be established by rule adopted pursuant to chapter 91.
§ 338-18. Disclosure of records
(a) To protect the integrity of vital statistics records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure the efficient and proper administration of the vital statistics system, it shall be unlawful for any person to permit inspection of, or to disclose information contained in vital statistics records, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any record, except as authorized by this part or in a manner consistent with rules adopted by the department of health.
(b) The department of health shall not permit inspection of public health statistics records, or issue a certified copy of any record or part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant has a direct and tangible interest in the record. The following persons or agencies shall be considered to have a direct and tangible interest in a public health statistics record:
(1) The registrant;
(2) The spouse of the registrant;
(3) A parent of the registrant;
(4) A descendant of the registrant;
(5) A person having a common ancestor with the registrant;
(6) A legal guardian of the registrant;
(7) A person or agency acting on behalf of the registrant;
(8) A personal representative or trustee of the registrant’s estate or trust;
(9) A person whose right to inspect or obtain a certified copy of the record is established by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction;
(10) Adoptive parents who have filed a petition for adoption and who need to determine the death of one or more of the prospective adopted child’s natural or legal parents;
(11) A person who needs to determine the marital status of a former spouse to determine the payment of alimony;
(12) A person, agency, or a beneficiary of a will or trust who needs to determine the death of a co-owner of property; and
(13) A person or agency who seeks access to vital statistics records for a public health purpose, as reviewed by the department of health’s institutional review committee and approved by the director of health.
(c) The department of health may permit the use of the data contained in public health statistics records for research purposes only, but no identifying use thereof shall be made.
(d) Index data consisting of name and sex of the registrant, type of vital event, and such other data as the director may authorize shall be made available to the public.
(e) The department of health may permit persons working on genealogy projects access to microfilm or other copies of vital records of events that occurred more than one hundred fifteen years before the current year.
(f) The department of health shall not issue a verification in lieu of a certified copy of any record, or any part thereof, unless it is satisfied that the applicant requesting a verification is:
(1) A person who has a direct and tangible interest in the record but requests a verification in lieu of a certified copy;
(2) A government agency that, for a legitimate government purpose, maintains and needs to update official lists of persons in the ordinary course of the agency’s activities. Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, upon request from a government agency of the State or its political subdivisions, the department of health may further disclose to that government agency the date of the vital event that has been verified;
(3) A government, private, social, or educational agency or organization that seeks confirmation of a certified copy of any record submitted in support of or information provided about a vital event relating to any record and contained in an official application made in the ordinary course of the agency’s or organization’s activities by an individual seeking employment with, entrance to, or the services or products of the agency or organization;
(4) A private or government attorney who seeks to confirm information about a vital event relating to any record that was acquired during the course of or for purposes of legal proceedings; or
(5) An individual employed, endorsed, or sponsored by a government, private, social, or educational agency or organization who seeks to confirm information about a vital event relating to preparation of reports or publications by the agency or organization for research or educational purposes.
(g) For the purposes of this section, “research purposes” shall be limited to those purposes that have been reviewed by the department of health’s institutional review committee and approved by the department of health’s institutional review committee and the director of health.
§ 338-20. Adoption
(a) In case of the adoption of any person born in the State, the department of health, upon receipt of a properly certified copy of the adoption decree, or certified abstract thereof on a form approved by the department, shall prepare a supplementary certificate in the name of the adopted person, as fixed or changed by the decree, and seal and file the original certificate of birth with the certified copy attached thereto.
(b) The registrar of births shall show on the supplemental birth certificate the names of parents as stated in the adoption decree pursuant to section 578-14.
(c) Any certified copy of final decree of adoption, or abstract thereof, of persons born in the State, rendered by courts of other states and territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, or courts of a foreign country, shall be considered properly certified when attested by the clerk of the court in which it was rendered with the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the presiding judge, chancellor, or magistrate that the attestation is in due form.
(d) If no original certificate of birth shall be on file with the department, the department may require such evidence as it deems necessary to establish the facts of birth before preparing a supplementary certificate in the new name of the adopted person; provided that no such certificate shall be filed unless it shall be satisfactorily established that the adopted person was born in the State.
(e) The sealed documents may be opened by the department only by an order of a court of record or when requested in accordance with section 578-14.5 or 578-15. Upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order setting aside a decree of adoption, the department shall restore the original certificate to its original place in the files.
§338-20.5 Adoption; foreign born persons
(a) The department of health shall establish a Hawaii certificate of birth for a person born in a foreign country and for whom a final decree of adoption has been entered in a court of competent jurisdiction in Hawaii, when it receives the following:
(1) A properly certified copy of the adoption decree, or certified abstract thereof on a form approved by the department; and
(2) A copy of any investigatory report and recommendation which may have been prepared by the [director of human services]; and
(3) A report on a form to be approved by the department of health setting forth the following:
(A) Date of assumption of custody;
(C) Color or race;
(D) Approximate age of child;
(E) Name and address of the person or persons adopting said child;
(F) Name given to child by adoptive parent or parents;
(G) True or probable country of birth.
The true or probable country of birth shall be known as the place of birth, and the date of birth shall be determined by approximation. This report shall constitute an original certificate of birth; and
(4) A request that a new certificate of birth be established.
(b) After preparation of the new certificate of birth in the new name of the adopted person, the department of health shall seal and file the certified copy of the adoptive decree, the investigatory report and recommendation of the director of human services if any, the report constituting the original certificate of birth, and the request for a new certificate of birth. The sealed documents may be opened by the department only by an order of a court of record or when requested in accordance with section 578-14.5 or 578-15. The new certificate of birth shall show the true or probable foreign country of birth, and that the certificate is not evidence of United States citizenship for the child for whom it is issued or for the adoptive parents.
Laws of Hawaii: Court and Adoption Records
Relevant portions of Hawaii’s adoption law. The entire Hawaii adoption statute is available here.
§ 578-13 Change of name
The court may fix or change the given name and the family name of an adoptive minor child to the name stipulated by the adoptive parents or that name which is in the best interest of the child. The court may fix or change the given name and family name of an adoptive individual who is an adult at the time of the filing of the petition for adoption to the name stipulated by the adoptive parents or that name which is in the best interest of the adult.
§ 578-14 Record of adoption
(a) A certified copy of the decree of adoption, or a certified abstract thereof on a form approved by the department of health, after the decree has become effective, shall be sent to the department. The department shall cause to be made a new record of the birth in the name of the individual, as fixed or changed by the decree, with the names of the adoptive parents and, upon request of both adoptive parents, or the sole adoptive parent if there is only one, that the name or names of either or both of the natural parents appear on the certificate, with the name of a natural parent who consents to be named on the certificate.
(b) If a new birth certificate is issued, the original birth certificate shall be sealed and filed with the decree or the abstract thereof, and the sealed package shall be opened only as provided in section 578-15(b).
(c) If the birth of the individual occurred outside of the State and a record of birth exists, the certified copy of the decree or the abstract thereof, shall be transmitted by the department of health to the birth registration authorities of the place of the individual’s birth with a request that those authorities take appropriate action with respect to the record of the individual’s birth. If the birth of the individual occurred outside of the State, or if the birth of an individual born in the State has not been registered with the department of health, or if other good cause exists, the clerk of the court, upon request, and with the approval of the family court, upon the finding of the court that the action is for the best interests of the individual involved, shall furnish to the adoptive parents, or to the individual, or to any proper person acting in their behalf, a certified copy or abstract of the decree of adoption or a certificate of adoption in a form approved by the court. If the parental rights of a parent or the parents of a minor child have been judicially terminated under chapter 571 prior to the entry of the decree, a certified copy of the decree shall be filed in the termination proceeding.
§ 578-14.5. Medical information on the natural parents of the adopted minor child
(a) The department of health shall prepare a standard form entitled, “medical information form”, for the purpose of perpetuating medical information on the natural parents of the adopted minor child. This form shall include a request for any information relating to the adopted child’s potential genetic or other inheritable diseases or afflictions, including but not limited to known genetic disorders, inheritable diseases, and similar medical histories, if known, of the parents of the natural parents. The department of health shall make these forms available to all affected public agencies, all child placing organizations approved by the department of human services under section 346-17, attorneys, and other private individuals assisting the natural or adoptive parents in the adoption process, and the family court.
(b) All affected public agencies and all child placing organizations approved by the department of human services under section 346-17 shall make reasonable efforts to complete this form with medical information on both natural parents, to obtain from the natural parents written consent to the release of this information to or for the benefit of the adopted child, and whenever possible, to obtain from the natural mother a signed release to receive a copy of all of her medical records, relating to the birth of the adopted child, which are within the possession of the hospital or other facility at which the child was born. When applicable, the family court may require the petitioner or the petitioner’s agent in the adoption proceeding to obtain this completed form from the natural parents with their consents and the signed release from the natural mother.
(c) Whenever possible, a completed form with the required information on each natural parent shall accompany any document, to be filed with the family court, which requests the relinquishment, termination, or divestiture of parental rights, as provided under sections 571-61 and 587A-31, and the petition for adoption under this chapter. If available, a copy of the hospital or other facility’s medical records under subsection (b) shall also accompany the document to be filed in the family court. This copy shall not be disseminated to the parties and shall be sealed by the family court pending transmittal to the department of health.
(d) For good cause shown, the family court may waive the requirement in subsection (c).
(e) If the natural parents have been court ordered to complete the forms required in subsection (c) pursuant to section 587A-28(e)(6), and have either failed to complete the forms or have failed to return the completed forms to the department of human services, the requirement in subsection (c) shall be waived.
(f) The completed forms shall be made a part of the records of the department of health.
(g) The completed forms and, if applicable, the previously sealed copy of the natural mother’s medical records shall be forwarded to the department of health. The department shall extract from the medical records pertinent information relating to inheritable diseases and genetic disorders and shall retain this information in an abstract. The completed forms and the abstract, if available, shall be included in the department’s adoption records.
(h) An adopted child upon reaching the age of majority, the adoptive parent, guardian, or custodian on behalf of a minor adopted child, or an authorized designee of the adult adopted child or of the minor’s adoptive parent may file a written application with the department of health for access to the information described in subsection (g).
(i) Upon the filing of the application in subsection (h), the department of health shall furnish the applicant with a copy of the completed forms and, if available, the abstract of pertinent information from the natural mother’s medical records. The department is authorized to disclose the information under this subsection without prior court approval, notwithstanding section 338-20(e).
Nothing in this section shall be construed or applied in any manner to require any public agency or child placing organization to reveal the identities of the natural parents without their consents.
§ 578-15. Secrecy of proceedings and records
(a) The records in adoption proceedings, after the petition is filed and prior to the entry of the decree, shall be open to inspection only by the parties or their attorneys, the director of human services or the director’s agent, or by any proper person on a showing of good cause therefor, upon order of the court. Except in the case of an individual being adopted by a person married to the legal father or mother of the individual or unless authorized by the court, no petition for adoption shall set forth the name of the individual sought to be adopted or the name of either of the parents of the individual; provided that the legal name of the individual and the name of each of the individual’s legal parents may be added to the petition by amendment during the course of the hearing thereof and shall be included in the decree. The hearing of the petition shall be in chambers and shall not be open to the public.
(b) Upon the entry of the decree, or upon the later effective date of the decree, or upon the dismissal or discontinuance or other final disposition of the petition, the clerk of the court shall seal all records in the proceedings; provided that upon the written request of the petitioner or petitioners, the court may waive the requirement that the records be sealed. The seal shall not be broken and the records shall not be inspected by any person, including the parties to the proceedings, except:
(1) Upon order of the family court upon a showing of good cause;
(2) After the adopted individual attains the age of eighteen and upon submission to the family court of a written request for inspection by the adopted individual or the adoptive parents;
(3) After the adopted individual attains the age of eighteen and upon submission to the family court of a written request for inspection by the natural parents;
(4) Upon request by the adopted individual or the adoptive parents for information contained in the records concerning ethnic background and necessary medical information; or
(5) Upon request by a natural parent for a copy of the original birth certificate.
As used in this subsection, “natural parent” means a biological mother or father, or a legal parent who is not also the biological parent.
(c) The clerk of the court shall keep a docket of all adoption proceedings, which may be inspected only by order of the family court.
Laws of Hawaii: Adoption Generally
Relevant portions of Hawaii’s adoption law. The entire Hawaii adoption statute is available here.
§ 578-1 Who may adopt; jurisdiction; venue
Any proper adult person, not married, or any person married to the legal father or mother of a minor child, or a husband and wife jointly, may petition the family court of the circuit in which the person or persons reside or are in military service or the family court of the circuit in which the individual to be adopted resides or was born or in which a child placing organization approved by the department of human services under the provisions of section 346-17 having legal custody (as defined in section 571-2) of the child is located, for leave to adopt an individual toward whom the person or persons do not sustain the legal relationship of parent and child and for a change of the name of the individual. When adoption is the goal of a permanent plan recommended by the department of human services and ordered pursuant to section 587A-31, the department may petition for adoption on behalf of the proposed adoptive parents. The petition shall be in such form and shall include such information and exhibits as may be prescribed by the family court.
§ 578-1.5. Adoption
Any person may be adopted under this chapter; provided that an adult to be adopted must give written consent to the adoption.
§ 578-2. Consent to adoption
(a) Persons required to consent to adoption. Unless consent is not required or is dispensed with under subsection (c) hereof, a petition to adopt a child may be granted only if written consent to the proposed adoption has been executed by:
(1) The mother of the child;
(2) A legal father as to whom the child is a legitimate child;
(3) An adjudicated father whose relationship to the child has been determined by a court;
(4) A presumed father under section 578-2(d);
(5) A concerned natural father who is not the legal, adjudicated, or presumed father but who has demonstrated a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of a child, either:
(A) During the first thirty days after such child’s birth; or
(B) Prior to the execution of a valid consent by the mother of the child; or
(C) Prior to the placement of the child with adoptive parents;
whichever period of time is greater;
(6) Any person or agency having legal custody of the child or legally empowered to consent;
(7) The court having jurisdiction of the custody of the child, if the legal guardian or legal custodian of the person of the child is not empowered to consent to adoption;
(8) The child to be adopted if more than ten years of age, unless the court in the best interest of the child dispenses with the child’s consent.
(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, if the adult is married.
(c) Persons as to whom consent not required or whose consent may be dispensed with by order of the court.
(1) Persons as to whom consent not required:
(A) A parent who has deserted a child without affording means of identification for a period of ninety days;
(B) A parent who has voluntarily surrendered the care and custody of the child to another for a period of two years;
(C) A parent of the child in the custody of another, if the parent for a period of at least one year has failed to communicate with the child when able to do so;
(D) A parent of a child in the custody of another, if the parent for a period of at least one year has failed to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so;
(E) A natural father who was not married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s conception or birth and who does not fall within the provisions of subsection (a)(3), (4), or (5);
(F) A parent whose parental rights have been judicially terminated under the provisions of sections 571-61 to 571-63, or under the provisions of any other state or other law by a court or other agency having jurisdiction to take the action;
(G) A parent judicially declared mentally ill or intellectually disabled and who is found by the court to be incapacitated from giving consent to the adoption of the child;
(H) Any legal guardian or legal custodian of the child sought to be adopted, other than a parent, who has failed to respond in writing to a request for consent for a period of sixty days or who, after examination of the person’s written reasons for withholding consent, is found by the court to be withholding the person’s consent unreasonably;
(I) A parent of a child who has been in the custody of a petitioner under this chapter for a period of at least one year and who entered the United States of America as a consequence of extraordinary circumstances in the child’s country of origin, by reason of which extraordinary circumstances the existence, identity, or whereabouts of the child’s parents is not reasonably ascertainable or there is no reasonable means of obtaining suitable evidence of the child’s identity or availability for adoption;
(J) Any parent of the individual to be adopted, if the individual is an adult eligible for adoption under subsection (b); and
(K) A parent whose parental and custodial duties and rights have been divested by an award of permanent custody pursuant to section 587A-33;
(2) Persons whose consent may be dispensed with by order of the court. The court may dispense with the consent of a parent who comes within subsection (a)(3), (4), or (5) herein, upon finding that:
(A) The petitioner is the stepfather of the child and the child has lived with the child’s legal mother and the petitioning stepfather for a period of at least one year;
(B) The father is a concerned father as provided by subsection (a)(5), herein, and has not filed a petition to adopt the child, or the petition to adopt the child filed by the father has been denied; or
(C) The father is an adjudicated, presumed, or concerned father as provided by subsections (a)(3), (4), or (5), herein, and is not a fit and proper person or is not financially or otherwise able to give the child a proper home and education.
(d) Presumption of paternity. A man is presumed to be the natural father of a child if:
(1) He and the child’s natural mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage, or within three hundred days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce, or after a decree of separation is entered by a court;
(2) Before the child’s birth, he and the child’s natural mother have attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and:
(A) If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage, or within three hundred days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, or divorce; or
(B) If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within three hundred days after the termination of cohabitation;
(3) After the child’s birth, he and the child’s natural mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid; and
(A) He has acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing filed with the department of health;
(B) With his consent he is named as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate; or
(C) He is obligated to support the child under a written voluntary promise or by court order;
(4) While the child is under the age of majority, he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child; or
(5) He acknowledges his paternity of the child in writing filed with the department of health, which shall promptly inform the mother of the filing of the acknowledgment, and she does not dispute the acknowledgment within a reasonable time after being informed thereof, in a writing filed with the department of health. If another man is presumed under this section to be the child’s father, acknowledgment may be effected only with the written consent of the presumed father or after the presumption has been rebutted. If the acknowledgment is filed and not disputed by the mother and if another man is not presumed under this section to be the child’s father, the department of health shall prepare a new certificate of birth in accordance with chapter 338.
(e) Notice of hearing; minor parent; consent authorizing selection of adoptive parents. No hearing of a petition for adoption shall be had unless each of the living parents of the child who falls within the provisions of subsection (a) and who has not consented to the proposed adoption, but who is alleged to come within the provisions of subsection (c)(1)(A), (B), (C) and (D) or (c)(2) of this section, and any man whose name appears as father on the child’s birth certificate, shall have had due notice, actual or constructive, of the allegations of the petition and of the time and place of the hearing thereof. Such notice need not be given to any parent whose parental rights have been legally terminated as hereinabove provided or whose consent has been filed with the court.
The minority of a child’s parent shall not be a bar to the right of such parent to execute a valid and binding consent to the adoption of such child.
Any parental consent required hereunder shall be valid and binding even though it does not designate any specific adoptive parent or parents, if it clearly authorizes the department of human services, or a child placing organization approved by the department under the provisions of section 346-17 or some proper person not forbidden by law to place a child for adoption, to select and approve an adoptive parent or parents for the child.
(f) Withdrawal of consent. A consent to adoption which has been filed or received in evidence in an adoption proceeding or which has been given to the department of human services or to a child placing organization approved by the department under section 346-17, or to any other proper person not forbidden by law to place or receive an individual for adoption, may not be withdrawn or repudiated after the individual has been placed for adoption, without the express approval of the court based upon a written finding that such action will be for the best interests of the individual to be adopted.
(g) Maintenance of action based on medical or surgical treatment of child barred when. A person who consents to adoption, or on whose behalf a consent to adoption is signed, and a nonconsenting parent whose consent is not required or is dispensed with hereunder shall be barred from maintaining any action based upon medical or surgical care or treatment given to the child with the permission of the petitioner or petitioners or the person or agency authorized by the parental consent to select and approve an adoptive parent or parents; provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed to alienate or impair any cause of action accruing to the child for personal injury which may be sustained as a result of such medical or surgical care or treatment.
§ 578-10. Disposition of minor child on discontinuance, withdrawal or denial of petition
Upon the discontinuance or withdrawal or denial of any petition for adoption, the court may make appropriate temporary orders concerning the care, custody and control of a minor child involved and may refer the minor child to the department of human services or to another appropriate agency or officer for action as in the case of a minor subject to section 571-11(1).
§ 578-12. Setting aside or modifying decree
At any time within one year from the date of entry of any decree of adoption, the court may, for good cause, set aside or modify the decree and, in connection therewith, may make appropriate orders, concerning the custody of the minor child and the disposition and handling of the record of adoption by the department of health. The setting aside or modification of any decree of adoption shall not affect any property rights which have become vested between the date of the entry of the decree or the effective date of the decree and the effective date of any order setting aside or modifying the decree of adoption.
No decree of adoption shall be subject to attack in any collateral proceeding, and, after the expiration of one year from the date of its entry, no decree of adoption shall be subject to direct attack upon any ground other than fraud rendering the decree void as of the time of its entry.
§ 578-16. Effect of adoption
(a) A legally adopted individual shall be considered to be a natural child of the whole blood of the adopting parent or parents as provided in the Uniform Probate Code, relating to the descent of property.
(b) The former legal parent or parents of an adopted individual and any other former legal kindred shall not be considered to be related to the individual as provided in the Uniform Probate Code except as provided in this section.
(c) An adopted individual and the individual’s adopting parent or parents shall sustain towards each other the legal relationship of parents and child and shall have all the rights and be subject to all the duties of that relationship, including the rights of inheritance from and through each other and the legal kindred of the adoptive parent or parents, the same as if the individual were the natural child of the adopting parent or parents.
(d) Except as provided in subsection (e), all legal duties and rights between the individual and the individual’s former legal parent or parents shall cease from the time of the adoption; provided that if the individual is adopted by a person married to a legal parent of the individual, the full reciprocal rights and duties which theretofore existed between the legal parent and the individual, and the rights of inheritance as between the individual and the legal parent and the legal relatives of the parent, as provided in chapter 560, shall continue, notwithstanding the adoption, subject only to the rights acquired by and the duties imposed upon the adoptive parents by reason of the adoption.
(e) Notwithstanding subsections (b) and (d), if an individual is adopted before that individual attains the age of majority and:
(1) The individual is adopted by a spouse of a natural parent of the individual; or
(2) The individual is adopted by a natural grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling of the individual or the spouse of a natural grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling;
then for the purposes of interpretation or construction of a disposition in any will, trust, or other lifetime instrument, whether executed before or after the order of adoption, and for purposes of determining heirs at law, the rights of the adopted individual and the individual’s descendants with respect to the individual’s natural family shall not be affected by the adoption, and they shall be included in any determination of heirs or members of any class, unless specifically excluded by name or class.
(f) An adopted individual, who by reason of subsection (e) would be a member of two or more designations or classes pursuant to a single instrument, both by relationship through a natural parent and through an adoptive parent, shall be entitled to benefit by membership in only one of these designations or classes, which shall be the larger share.
(g) For purposes of this section, if a person has been adopted more than once, the term “natural parent” includes an adopting parent by an earlier adoption.
(h) An individual legally adopted under the laws of any state or territory of the United States or under the laws of any nation shall be accorded the same rights and benefits in all respects as an individual adopted under this chapter.
Rey Marin says
I am trying to get my adoption records from Hawaii. Who do I contact??
Gregory D. Luce says
There are two forms to help: one provides instructions and where to send a request and the other is the form that you complete to make the request. They are here and on the state court website for Hawai’i:
Instructions for Requests Regarding Confidential Adoption Records of the Family Court
Request Regarding Confidential Adoption Records of the Family Court
Good luck! I hope whatever you find is useful and meaningful.
Loranne Gole says
does original birth cetificate mean it can be used like other non adoptee s birth ceriticate . Is the BC legal
Gregory D. Luce says
The copy of the OBC is not a legal document that can be used for things such as passports or other identification requirements. But it is a factual document.
Alina Sofi says
Who can request the adoption records? I have a friend who is trying to find his brother who he hasn’t seen in decades. His grandmother kept it a secret from him but she has a hard time speaking and her memory isn’t quite good. All he knows is his birthday and his first name.
Would this also include his birth certificate as well?
Gregory D. Luce says
The adoption court record in Hawai’i should include the original birth certificate. If it doesn’t I have heard, only anecdotally, that the court will provide an order to release it from vital records.
Under the new law, you have to be the adopted individual or a natural parent to request information. I don’t know if your friend is the adopted individual or not or whether his brother is. You may want to seek information from the Department of Human Services concerning possible assistance in locating siblings. That said, the first stop may be contacting Adoption Circle of Hawaii, which was instrumental in getting the most recent changes in the law enacted.
This is SO helpful. I run a nonprofit placement agency in AR called Shared Beginnings. We support natural parents and adoptees rights. Our goal is to help reconnect families. Many Marshallese families and babies were trafficked through Hawaii! This information is SO helpful!
Thank you for your work!
Aloha Pelio says
My mother was born/adopted in 1941, she has since passed away but always wanted to know her past. Can I, being her only living child, request the original birth certificate? The law as it stands only mentions the actual adoptee and/or the parents of the adoptee having the right to request them, but not the adoptees children. Also, someone once mentioned that since she was adopted so long ago (in 1941) that those records are open anyways?
Toni Mann says
What about older adoption records? My mother was adopted in 1924 in Honolulu. She, and everyone involved in the adoption have all passed. I have her original birth certificate, stating her birth mother’s name and her adoptive parents. I would like to learn more about the circumstances concerning the adoption, i.e. how were the adoptive parents chosen, did they already know the birth mother, etc. Could I find that information on adoption records?
I was born in July of 1969 in Hawaii. Adopted in September of that same year. I am wanting to get my original birth certificate. I am so overwhelmed at how to go about it.
He provides the link 👆🏻
Jeff K-S says
Aloha. Are the adoption records able to be accessed by descendants of the adoptee?
I am in need of some direction. I was born in Hawaii 1959, adopted 6 months after birth in Hawaii. Recently I found my biological father’s family (he passed away in 2019) located in Texas. My father and his family (my family) are American Native Indian Choctaw and I have processed my application for tribal enrollment which is my right thru linage of my great grandmother under her DAWS number who was one of the last to enroll. For this I had obtain my adoption records and have a legal DNA test for tribal enrollment performed. I did this with my biological half brother and my biological aunt. Results were conclusive 99.96%, I am told now that I need a court order establishing paternity of my biological father as he is not listed on my original birth certificate. I was born in wedlock but conceived through an extramarital affair. My biological mother had to have her husband sign over parental rights as he was my “legal” father, but she never listed my biological father’s name. I currently live in Texas. How do I proceed to do this 62 years after the fact, both biological parents deceased, and thousands of miles from Hawaii? Can you help direct me where or how to start, please?
Update to my previous comment. I have since received an email from the tribal enrollment office am told that I only need a court order to establish paternity, not an amended birth certificate. I have the results of the legal DNA test already that was performed a little over a month ago. Can this court order be obtained in the state of Texas and if so, can you tell me what steps I need to take? Thank you in advance for any direction you can give me.
Michael Banks says
My father was adopted in Hawaii in 1940 and the court in Hawaii rejected my request to unseal my father’s records. The court said his original bc could only be granted to the adoptee, the birth parents or the adoptive parents.
Gregory D. Luce says
I’m sorry to hear that and it may make strict legal sense (maybe) but it certainly does not adhere to what the law should be about. That said, I’ve made inquiries into changing Hawaii law so that it 1) provides the OBC directly from the state department of health (and not only from the court); and 2) it provides for rights of descendants to request and obtain the OBC if the adopted person is deceased. There’s more information here, including proposed bill language.