Original Birth Certificates. Maine is an Unrestricted State. Maine-born adopted people who are at least 18 years of age have an unrestricted right to request and obtain their own original birth certificates.
Contact Preference Form. Maine allows a birthparent to file a contact preference form and a medical history form, which accompany the original birth certificate when it is releases. The contact preference form does not in any way affect the release or availability of the original birth certificate.
People Are Not Secrets. Maine law provides that a new certificate of birth after an adoption “may not be established if so requested by the adopting parents or the adopted person if the adopted person is at least 18 years of age.” As in many states, birthparents have no control over the issuance of an amended birth certificate and the sealing of the original.
Court Records. Court records in adoptions may be available by request only for adoptions finalized prior to August 8, 1953. For adoptions on or after that date, the court may allow inspection of records if it “determines that examination . . . is proper.”
Descendant Rights. Descendants of a deceased adopted person have the same rights in Maine to request and obtain the adopted person’s original birth certificate. The law does not define specific descendants; the form to apply for the OBC requests the person’s relationship to the adopted person.
Adoption Reunion Registry. Maine maintains a voluntary adoption reunion registry that requires a “request for contact” before identifying information may be released. The registry does not appear well supported or widely publicized, but it is apparently still operational.
Adult Adoption. Maine law does not specifically address the adoption of adults other than it is allowed under the overall adoption statute. The Maine Probate Court maintains adoption forms, including one entitled Petition for Adoption and Change of Name for an Adult Adoptee.
Maine Law: Vital Records, Birth Certificates & Registry
Relevant parts of Maine vital records law. The entire Maine vital records statute is available here.
§2763. Birth certificates of foundlings; report
Whoever assumes the custody of a child of unknown parentage shall immediately report to the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics in writing:
1. Date and place of finding. The date and place of finding or assumption of custody;
2. Sex, color, age. Sex; color or race; and approximate age of child;
3. Name and address of custodian. Name and address of the person or institution with whom the child has been placed for care;
4. Name. Name given to the child by the finder or custodian.
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. The report shall constitute the certificate of birth. If the child is thereafter identified, the record of birth made in compliance herewith and any certificate issued thereon shall be null and void and so recorded.
Rev. Stat. Tit. 22 § 2765. New certificate of birth following adoption or legitimation
1. New certificate of birth. The state registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in this State when the state registrar receives the following:
A. A certificate of adoption as provided in Title 18-A, section 9-304, or a certified copy of the decree of adoption along with the information necessary to identify the original certificate and establish the new certificate of birth, except that a new certificate may not be established if so requested by the adopting parents or the adopted person if the adopted person is at least 18 years of age;
B. A request that a new certificate be established and such evidence as the department may require by rule proving that the person has been legitimated.
1-A. Persons born in a foreign country. The state registrar shall establish a Maine certificate of birth for a person born in a foreign country and for whom a decree of adoption has been entered in a court of competent jurisdiction in Maine when the registrar receives the following:
A. A certificate of adoption as provided in Title 18-A, section 9-304; and
C. A request that a new certificate be established. A Maine 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 18 years of age or older.
1-B. Content of certificate. Any birth certificate issued under subsection 1-A shall show the true or probable foreign country of birth and shall indicate that the certificate is not evidence of United States citizenship for the child for whom it is issued or for the adoptive parents.
2. Original certificate not subject to inspection.
2-A. Certificate after adoption or legitimation. This subsection governs birth certificates after adoption or legitimation.
A. When a new birth certificate is established after adoption pursuant to subsection 1, paragraph A, or subsection 1-A, the actual place and date of birth, the names and personal data of the adoptive parents at the time of the child’s birth and the name of the child after adoption must be entered on the new birth certificate.
(1) At the request of an adopted person who is at least 18 years of age or of the adoptive parents of an adopted child under 18 years of age, the new certificate must carry a notation that it has been amended, all items that have been revised pursuant to the adoption decree must be identified, and the notation “court action” and the date of the adoption decree must be shown on the new certificate.
(2) If the birth certificate has been annotated pursuant to subparagraph (1), the annotation may be deleted in accordance with department regulations at the request of an adopted person who is at least 18 years of age or of the adoptive parents of an adopted child under 18 years of age.
B. When a new certificate is established after legitimation pursuant to subsection 1, paragraph B, the actual place and date of birth, the name of the child and the names and personal data of both parents at the time of birth must be shown. Notwithstanding section 2705, the new certificate may not be marked “amended.” The new certificate must be filed with all other birth certificates and is not subject to the provisions of section 2761, subsection 4.
C. When a new certificate of birth is established following adoption or legitimation, it must be substituted for the original certificate of birth. After that substitution, the original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption are not subject to inspection except upon order of the Probate Court or the Superior Court or pursuant to section 2768. The application for legitimation may be released to persons listed on the original birth certificate upon completion of written application to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics or the registrar’s designee.
3. Original certificate restored. Upon receipt of notice of an annulment or revocation of adoption, the original certificate shall be restored to its place in the files and the new certificate and evidence of adoption shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of a probate court or the Superior Court.
4. Delayed birth registration. 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 birth registration shall be filed as provided by law before a new certificate of birth is established.
5. Copies of original certificate. When the new certificate of birth is established, the state registrar shall provide each municipal clerk who is required by law to have a copy of the certificate of birth on file with a copy of the new certificate of birth. In the case of a Maine certificate of birth established for a person born in a foreign country, a copy of the certificate must be provided to and must be maintained on file by the clerk of the municipality where the adoptive parents resided on the date of the adoption. All copies of the original certificate in the custody of any municipal clerk must be sealed from inspection, except as provided in section 2768, or surrendered to the state registrar as the state registrar directs.
Rev. Stat. Tit. 22 § 2767-A. Amendment of birth certificate of adult
1. Amendment of birth certificate. The State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall amend the birth certificate of a person 18 years of age or older born in this State for the purpose of identifying or replacing a genetic parent who was not known or listed at the time of birth when the state registrar has received the following:
A. A signed, notarized request from the subject of the birth certificate that the birth certificate be amended;
B. Either the written, notarized consent of the genetic parent to be named on the amended birth certificate or a certified copy of the death certificate of the genetic parent to be named on the amended birth certificate; and
C. Evidence of genetic parentage based on testing of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, that includes:
(1) A notarized report of the results of the DNA testing; and
(2) Notarized documentation of the chain of custody of the blood and tissue samples examined in the testing.
The testing must be of a type generally acknowledged as reliable by accreditation bodies designated by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services, and it must be performed by a laboratory approved by an accreditation body designated by the federal Secretary of Health and Human Services.
2. Effect. If the request submitted pursuant to subsection 1 does not contain the written, notarized consent of the genetic parent to be named on the amended birth certificate, amendment of the birth certificate pursuant to this section does not affect the rights of inheritance and descent. A birth certificate amended without the written, notarized consent of the genetic parent to be named on the amended birth certificate must contain the following words in a conspicuous place: “This birth certificate has been amended to identify or replace a genetic parent not known or listed at the time of birth. This amendment does not affect the rights of inheritance or descent of the subject of the birth certificate.”
Rev. Stat. Tit. 22 § 2768. Access to original birth certificate by adopted person
An adopted person, the adopted person’s attorney or, if the adopted person is deceased, the adopted person’s descendants may obtain a copy of that person’s original certificate of birth from the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, referred to in this section as “the state registrar,” in accordance with this section.
1. Requirements. The adopted person must be at least 18 years of age and have been born in this State.
2. Application. The adopted person must file a written application with and provide appropriate proof of identification to the state registrar.
3. Issuance of birth certificate and forms. Upon receipt of the written application and proof of identification pursuant to subsection 2 and fulfillment of the requirements of subsection 4, the state registrar shall issue a noncertified copy of the unaltered original certificate of birth to the applicant. If a contact preference or medical history form has been completed and submitted to the state registrar pursuant to section 2769, the state registrar also must provide that information.
4. Fees; waiting period. The state registrar may require a waiting period and impose a fee for the noncertified copy provided pursuant to subsection 3. The fees and waiting period imposed under this subsection must be identical to the fees and waiting period generally imposed on persons seeking their own birth certificates.
5. Forms; rules. The state registrar shall develop by rule the data elements required in the contact preference form, medical history form and application form as required by this section and may adopt other rules for the administration of this section. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Rev. Stat. Tit. 22 § 2769. Contact preference and medical history forms
The State Registrar of Vital Statistics shall provide upon request each birth parent a contact preference form and a medical history form as described in this section.
1. Definitions. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
A. “Adoptee” means the person who is the subject of a birth certificate.
B. “Birth parent” means the person who is the biological parent of an adoptee and who is named as the parent on the original birth certificate of the adoptee.
C. “Contact preference form” means the form developed by the state registrar pursuant to subsection 3.
D. “Medical history form” means the form developed by the state registrar pursuant to subsection 2.
E. “State registrar” means State Registrar of Vital Statistics.
2. Medical history form. The state registrar shall develop and distribute upon request to birth parents a medical history form. A birth parent may use this form to describe the medical history of the birth parent. A birth parent shall fill out a medical history form if that birth parent fills out a contact preference form.
3. Contact preference form. The state registrar shall develop a contact preference form on which a birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adoptee. The form must contain the following statements from which the birth parent may choose only one.
A. “I would like to be contacted. I have completed this contact preference form and a medical history form and am filing them with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.”
B. “I would prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary. I have completed this contact preference form and a medical history form and am filing them with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.”
C. “Do not contact me. I may change this preference by filling out another contact preference form. I have completed this contact preference form and a medical history form and am filing them with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.”
4. Attachment of forms to birth certificate; treatment. Upon receipt of a completed contact preference form or medical history form, the state registrar shall attach the completed form to the original birth certificate of the adoptee. A completed contact preference form and medical history form have the same level of confidentiality as the original birth certificate.
§ 2706-A. Adoption contact files
1. File. The state registrar shall maintain files of the names and addresses of adopted persons and their adoptive and genetic parents who have registered under this section.
2. Registration. This subsection governs participation in the adoption registry.
A. The following persons may register their names and addresses with the state registrar and request contact:
(1) A person who is 18 years of age or older and:
(a) Who was adopted;
(b) Whose adoption was annulled;
(c) Whose adoptive parents surrendered and released parental rights to that person or had their parental rights terminated; or
(d) Who was freed for adoption but was never subsequently adopted;
(2) An adoptive parent if:
(a) The adopted person is under 18 years of age;
(b) The adopted person is deceased; or
(c) The adopted person is at least 18 years of age and is determined by a court to be incapacitated; and
(3) The legal custodian or guardian of:
(a) A person whose adoption was annulled, who was surrendered and released by that person’s adoptive parents or whose adoptive parents’ parental rights were terminated;
(b) An adopted person under 18 years of age who:
(i) Has been removed from the custody or guardianship of that person’s adoptive parents by order of a court; or
(ii) Was freed for adoption but was never subsequently adopted; or
(c) An adopted person who is at least 18 years of age and has been determined by a court to be incapacitated.
B. The following persons may register their names and addresses with the state registrar and request contact with an adopted person or a person freed for adoption as specified in paragraph A:
(1) A genetic parent of an adopted person or of a person freed for adoption but not subsequently adopted;
(2) The legal custodian or guardian of a person under 18 years of age whose full sibling or half-sibling is an adopted person or a person freed for adoption;
(3) If a genetic parent of an adopted person or a person freed for adoption is deceased, a genetic mother, legal father, grandparent, sibling, half-sibling, sibling of the person’s deceased genetic parent or that sibling’s spouse or first cousin of the deceased genetic parent; and
(4) A genetic sibling or half-sibling, who is at least 18 years of age, of an adopted person or a person freed for adoption.
C. At the time of registration, each registrant shall indicate with which of the persons specified in paragraphs A and B contact is desired.
D. A registrant may withdraw from the adoption registry at any time by submitting a written request to the state registrar.
E. When an adopted person reaches 18 years of age and has not been determined by a court to be incapacitated, the state registrar, after mailing notice to the registrant, shall delete from the adoption registry any prior registration under paragraph A, subparagraph (2), division (a), or subparagraph (3), division (b).
3. Certification of identity and relationship. The state registrar shall require each person registering or requesting contact to provide certification of the registrant’s identity and relationship to the person with whom contact is desired and any additional information that is necessary to ensure accurate identification of the registrant and assist in identifying the other party.
3-A. Providing information about available counseling. The state registrar shall provide information about sources of counseling to any person registering or requesting contact.
4. Reviewing departmental files. The state registrar may review both public and confidential departmental files to assist in identifying or verifying the identification of the other party. If both parties have registered, the state registrar may release those names and addresses even if the relationship was identified or verified by the use of confidential departmental files. The state registrar may charge a fee for the assistance, which must reasonably reflect the cost of providing it.
5. Request for contact. When the state registrar has requests for contact from a person specified in subsection 2, paragraph A and a person specified in subsection 2, paragraph B that are related to the same adoption and both persons indicated at the time of registration that contact with the other person was desired, the state registrar shall notify each party of the name and address of the other party and of sources of counseling. If a genetic parent, an adoptive parent or an adopted person registered under this section has made a request for contact and the party being sought died in the State, the state registrar shall disclose to the requesting party the fact that the genetic parent, adoptive parent or the adopted person has died.
6. Confidentiality. Except as provided in subsection 5, the files established under this section are confidential and not open to public inspection.
7. Public information. The state registrar shall, by appropriate means, make known to the public the existence of the adoption contact files, the assistance the department may offer and the purposes of those files.
Maine Law: Adoption Court Records
Relevant portions of Maine’s adoption law related to court records. The entire Maine adoption statute is available here.
Rev. Stat. 18-C § 9-310. Records confidential
Notwithstanding any other provision of law and except as provided in Title 22, section 2768, all court records relating to an adoption decreed on or after August 8, 1953 are confidential. The court shall keep records of those adoptions segregated from all other court records. If a court determines that examination of records pertaining to a particular adoption is proper, the court may authorize that examination by specified persons, authorize the register to disclose to specified persons any information contained in the records by letter, certificate or copy of the record or authorize a combination of both examination and disclosure.
Any medical or genetic information in the court records relating to an adoption must be made available to the adopted child when the adopted child attains 18 years of age and to the adopted child’s descendants, adoptive parents or legal guardian on petition of the court.
Maine Law: Adoption Generally
§ 9-105. Rights of adopted persons
Except as otherwise provided by law, an adopted person has all the same rights, including inheritance rights, that a child born to the adoptive parents would have. An adoptee also retains the right to inherit from the adoptee’s former parents if the adoption decree so provides, as specified in section 2-117.
§ 9-302. Consent for adoption
1. Written consent. Before an adoption is granted, written consent to the adoption must be given by:
A. The adoptee, if the adoptee is 12 years of age or older;
B. Each of the adoptee’s living parents, except as provided in subsection 2;
C. A person or agency having legal custody or guardianship of the adoptee if the adoptee is a child or to whom the child has been surrendered and released, except that the person’s or agency’s lack of consent, if adjudged unreasonable by a court, may be overruled by the court. In order for the court to find that the person or agency acted unreasonably in withholding consent, the petitioner must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person or agency acted unreasonably. The court shall determine whether the person or agency acted unreasonably in withholding consent prior to any hearing on whether to grant the adoption. The court may hold a pretrial conference to determine who will proceed. The court may determine that even though the burden of proof remains on the petitioner, the person or agency should present its reasons for withholding consent and the facts supporting the decision before the petitioner presents its evidence. The court shall consider the following:
(1) Whether the person or agency determined the needs and interests of the child;
(2) Whether the person or agency determined the ability of the petitioner and other prospective families to meet the child’s needs;
(3) Whether the person or agency made the decision consistent with the facts;
(4) Whether the harm of removing the child from the child’s current placement outweighs any inadequacies of that placement;
(4-A) Whether an agency withholding consent to the petitioner consented to the adoption of the child by a person who is a preadoptive parent as defined in Title 22, section 4002, subsection 9‑A or who was identified as an appropriate permanency placement in a court-approved permanency plan pursuant to Title 22, section 4038‑B; and
(5) All other factors that have a bearing on a determination of the reasonableness of the person’s or agency’s decision in withholding consent; and
D. A guardian appointed by the court, if the adoptee is a child, when the child has no living parent, guardian or legal custodian who may consent.
A petition for adoption must be pending before a consent is executed.
2. Consent not required. Consent to adoption is not required of:
A. A putative parent if the putative parent:
(1) Received notice and failed to respond to the notice within the prescribed time period;
(2) Waived the right to notice under section 9-201, subsection 3;
(3) Does not establish parentage of the child under section 9-201, subsection 9; or
(4) Holds no parental rights regarding the adoptee under the laws of the foreign country in which the adoptee was born;
B. A parent whose parental rights have been terminated under Title 22, chapter 1071, subchapter 6;
C. A parent who has executed a surrender and release pursuant to section 9-202;
D. A parent whose parental rights have been voluntarily or judicially terminated and transferred to a public agency or a duly licensed private agency pursuant to the laws of another state or country; or
E. A parent of an adoptee who is 18 years of age or older.
3. Consent by department; notice [Repealed]
4. Consent by department; notice. This subsection applies when the department consents to the adoption of a child in its custody.
A. When the department consents to the adoption of a child in its custody, the department shall immediately notify:
(1) The District Court in which the action under Title 22, chapter 1071 is pending; and
(2) The guardian ad litem for the child.
B. The department may consent to more than one person petitioning to adopt a child in its custody. In such cases, the court may request that the department provide information and a recommendation regarding petitioners.
§ 9-307. Adoption not granted
If the court determines that it is unable to finalize an adoption to which parents have consented, the court shall notify the parents that the court has not granted the adoption and shall conduct a review pursuant to section 9-205.
§ 9-308. Final decree; dispositional hearing; effect of adoption
1. Final decree of adoption; requirements. The court shall grant a final decree of adoption if the petitioner who filed the petition has been heard or has waived hearing and the court is satisfied from the hearing or record that:
A. All necessary consents, relinquishments or terminations of parental rights have been duly executed and filed with the court;
B. An adoption study, when required by section 9‑304, has been filed with the court;
C. A list of all disbursements as required by section 9‑306 has been filed with the court;
D. The petitioner is a suitable adopting parent and desires to establish a parent-child relationship with the adoptee;
E. The best interest of the adoptee, described in subsection 2, is served by the adoption;
F. The petitioner has acknowledged that the petitioner understands that the transfer of the long-term care and custody of an adoptee who is a minor child without a court order is prohibited under Title 17‑A, section 553, subsection 1, paragraphs C and D; and
G. All requirements of this Article have been met.
2. Best interest of adoptee. In determining the best interest of an adoptee, the court shall consider and evaluate the following factors to give the adoptee a permanent home at the earliest possible date:
A. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the adoptee and the adopting person or persons, a parent or a putative parent;
B. The capacity and disposition of the adopting person or persons, the parent or parents or the putative parent to educate and give the adoptee love, affection and guidance and to meet the needs of the adoptee. An adoption may not be delayed or denied because the adoptive parent and the adoptee do not share the same race, color or national origin; and
C. The capacity and disposition of the adopting person or persons, the parent or parents or the putative parent to provide the adoptee with food, clothing and other material needs, education, permanence and medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted in place of medical care under the laws of this State.
3. Findings; decree; confidentiality. The court shall enter its findings in a written final decree that includes the new name of the adoptee. The final decree must further order that from the date of the decree the adoptee is the child of the petitioner and must be accorded the status set forth in section 9‑105. If the court determines that it is in the best interest of the adoptee, the court may require that the names of the adoptee and of the petitioner be kept confidential.
4. Notice to parents. Upon completion of an adoption proceeding, the parents who consented to an adoption or who executed a surrender and release must be notified by the court of the completion by regular mail at their last known address. Notice under this subsection is not required to a parent who is also a petitioner. When the parents’ rights have been terminated pursuant to Title 22, section 4055, the notice must be given to the department and the department shall notify the parents of the completion by regular mail at their last known address. Actual receipt of the notice is not a precondition of completion and does not affect the rights or responsibilities of adoptees or adoptive parents.
5. Notice to grandparents. The department shall notify the grandparents of a child when the child is placed for adoption if the department has received notice that the grandparents were granted reasonable rights of visitation or access under Title 19‑A, chapter 59 or Title 22, section 4005‑E.
6. Effect of adoption. An order granting the adoption has the following effect:
A. An order granting the adoption of the child by the petitioner divests the parent and child of all legal rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties and obligations to each other as parent and child, except an adoptee inherits from the adoptee’s former parents if provided in the adoption decree.
B. An adoption order may not disentitle a child to benefits due the child from any 3rd person, agency or state or the United States and may not affect the rights and benefits that a Native American derives from descent from a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe.
§ 9-311. Interstate placements
1. Certificate of compliance; bring child to this State. A person or agency who intends to bring a child to this State from another state for the purpose of adoption must provide to the court the certification of compliance as required by the department pursuant to Title 22, chapter 1153 or 1154, as applicable.
2. Certificate of compliance; remove child from this State. A person or agency who intends to remove a child from this State for the purpose of adoption in another state must obtain from the department certification of compliance with Title 22, chapter 1153 or 1154, as applicable, prior to the removal of the child from this State.
3. Department certification required. The court may not grant a petition to adopt a child who has been brought to or will be removed from this State for the purpose of adoption without department certification of compliance with Title 22, chapter 1153 or 1154, as applicable.
4. Civil violation. An agency or person who fails to comply with this section commits a civil violation for which a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $5,000 may be adjudged.
§ 9-312. Foreign adoptions
If an adoption in a foreign country has been finalized and the adopting parents are seeking an adoption under the laws of this State to give recognition to the foreign adoption, a court may enter a decree of adoption based solely upon a judgment of adoption in a foreign country and may order a change of name if requested by the adopting parents. The fee for filing the petition is $55.
§ 9-315. Annulment of the adoption decree
1. Annulment; reasons and limitations. A court may, on petition filed within one year of the decree of adoption and after notice and hearing, reverse and annul an adoption decree based on findings by clear and convincing evidence that the adoption was obtained as a result of fraud, duress or illegal procedures.
A. If the adoptee is a minor, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem on behalf of the minor adoptee and shall consider the best interest of the child, taking into account the factors set forth in Title 19‑A, section 1653, subsection 3. The court shall sustain the decree unless there is clear and convincing evidence of one or more bases for annulment and that the decree is not in the best interest of the child.
The court may allocate the costs of the guardian ad litem to one or more of the parties and may appoint counsel for a minor adoptee or a party to the annulment proceedings. A minor adoptee may appear and be represented by counsel.
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.
2. Notice. Notice of a petition to annul must be given to the parents, except those whose parental rights were terminated through a proceeding pursuant to Title 22, section 4055, subsection 1, paragraph B, subparagraph (2), and to all parties to the adoption including the adoptive parents, an adoptee who is 14 years of age or older and the agency involved in the adoption.
3. Certified copy of annulment. After the court annuls a decree of adoption, the register shall transmit immediately a certified copy of the annulment to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics.