Mississippi denies adult adoptees the right to obtain their own original birth certificates upon request. Release of the OBC requires a court order.
The Mississippi Adoption Confidentiality Act allows for release of identifying information from a state-maintained “centralized adoption records file,” subject to birth parent consent. It is also against the law in Mississippi for one birth parent to reveal the identity of another birth parent.
Relevant Mississippi Law: Original Birth Certificate
Miss. Code Ann. § 93-17-21. Revised birth certificate
(1) A certified copy of the final decree shall be furnished to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, together with a certificate signed by the clerk giving the true or original name and the place and date of birth of the child. The said bureau shall prepare a revised birth certificate which shall contain the original date of birth, with the place of birth being shown as the residence of the adoptive parents at the time the child was born, but with the names of the adopting parents and the new name of the child. In all other particulars, the certificate shall show the true facts of birth. The fact that a revised birth certificate is issued shall be indicated only by code numbers or some letter inconspicuously placed on the face of the certificate. The word “revised” shall not appear thereon. However, in the event an unmarried adult shall be the adopting parent, then such birth certificate may show thereon, upon order of the chancellor as set forth in the decree of adoption, that same is a revised birth certificate, giving the court where said decree was issued and the date of such decree. The original birth certificate shall be removed and placed, with reference made to the decree of adoption, in a safely locked drawer or vault, and the same shall not be public records and shall not be divulged except upon the order of the court rendering the said final decree or pursuant to Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223, and for all purposes the revised certificate shall be and become the birth certificate of the child. However, the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State of Mississippi shall be required to prepare and register revised certificates only for births which occurred in the State of Mississippi as shown either by the court decree or by the original birth record on file in the bureau; but if the birth occurred in some other state, then the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the State of Mississippi shall be required to furnish to the attorney or other person representing the adopted child the name and address of the proper official in the state where the child was born, to whom the adoption decree and other information may be referred for appropriate action, and shall furnish to such attorney the certified copy of the decree and the certificate furnished by the clerk.
(2) Provided, however, notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, either an original or a revised birth certificate may be issued, as hereinafter provided, by the Bureau of Vital Statistics to any child who was born outside the United States or its possessions and adopted, either heretofore or hereafter, by an order of a court in this state. Upon presentation of a certified copy of the final decree of adoption containing the required information, the Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics shall be authorized and directed to receive said certified copy of the decree of adoption and prepare therefrom, and record, a birth certificate which shall disclose the following information: The name of the child (being the adopted name), race, sex, date of birth, place of birth (being the actual town, district and county of said child’s birth, except where the child is born in a penal or mental institution where the name of the county shall be sufficient), names, race, ages, places of birth and occupation of parents (being the adoptive parents) including the maiden name of the adoptive mother. Such certificate shall comport in appearance and indicia with the foregoing requirements for a “revised” certificate issued to a child born in this state. The Director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics shall be authorized and directed to issue certified copies thereof, the same as if the birth certificate were that of a child who had never been adopted.
Relevant Mississippi Law: Adoption Records and Identifying Information
The following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) “Agency” means a county welfare department, a licensed or nonlicensed adoption agency or any other individual or entity assisting in the finalization of an adoption.
(b) “Adoptee” means a person who is or has been adopted in this state at any time.
(c) “Birth parent” means either:
(i) The mother designated on the adoptee’s original birth certificate; or
(ii) The person named by the mother designated on the adoptee’s original birth certificate as the father of the adoptee.
(d) “Board” means the Mississippi State Board of Health.
(e) “Bureau” means the Bureau of Vital Records of the Mississippi State Board of Health.
(f) “Licensed adoption agency” means any agency or organization performing adoption services and duly licensed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services.
§ 93-17-205. Centralized adoption records file established; contents; filing of supplemental information; authorization to release birth parent’s identity; notification of genetic illness
(1) The bureau shall maintain a centralized adoption records file for all adoptions performed in this state after July 1, 2005, which shall include the following information:
(a) The medical and social history of the birth parents, including information regarding genetically inheritable diseases or illnesses and any similar information furnished by the birth parents about the adoptee’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters if known;
(b) A report of any medical examination which either birth parent had within one (1) year before the date of the petition for adoption, if available and known;
(c) A report describing the adoptee’s prenatal care and medical condition at birth, if available and known;
(d) The medical and social history of the adoptee, including information regarding genetically inheritable diseases or illnesses, and any other relevant medical, social and genetic information if available; and
(e) Forms 100A, 100B (if applicable) and evidence of Interstate Compact for Placement of Children approval (if applicable).
The Administrative Office of Courts shall assist the bureau in the maintenance of its centralized adoption record by compiling the number of finalized adoptions in each chancery court district on a monthly basis, and submitting this information to the bureau. The bureau shall include these statistics in its centralized adoption record. The information in this report shall include the number of adoptions in this state where the adopting parent is a blood relative of the adoptee and the number of adoptions in this state where the adopting parent is not a blood relative of the adoptee. The report shall not include any individual identifying information. This information shall be updated annually and made available to the public upon request for a reasonable fee.
(2) Any birth parent may file with the bureau at any time any relevant supplemental nonidentifying information about the adoptee or the adoptee’s birth parents, and the bureau shall maintain this information in the centralized adoption records file.
(3) The bureau shall also maintain as part of the centralized adoption records file the following:
(a) The name, date of birth, social security number (both original and revised, where applicable) and birth certificate (both original and revised) of the adoptee;
(b) The names, current addresses and social security numbers of the adoptee’s birth parents, guardian and legal custodian;
(c) Any other available information about the birth parent’s identity and location.
(4) Any birth parent may file with the bureau at any time an affidavit authorizing the bureau to provide the adoptee with his or her original birth certificate and with any other available information about the birth parent’s identity and location, or an affidavit expressly prohibiting the bureau from providing the adoptee with any information about such birth parent’s identity and location, and prohibiting any licensed adoption agency from conducting a search for such birth parent under the terms of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223. An affidavit filed under this section may be revoked at any time by written notification to the bureau from the birth parent.
(5) Counsel for the adoptive parents in the adoption finalization proceeding shall provide the bureau with the information required in subsections (1) and (3) of this section, and he shall also make such information a part of the adoption records of the court in which the final decree of adoption is rendered. This information shall be provided on forms prepared by the bureau.
(6) (a) If an agency receives a report from a physician stating that a birth parent or another child of the birth parent has acquired or may have a genetically transferable disease or illness, the agency shall notify the bureau and the appropriate licensed adoption agency, and the latter agency shall notify the adoptee of the existence of the disease or illness, if he or she is twenty-one (21) years of age or over, or notify the adoptee’s guardian, custodian or adoptive parent if the adoptee is under age twenty-one (21).
(b) If an agency receives a report from a physician that an adoptee has acquired or may have a genetically transferable disease or illness, the agency shall notify the bureau and the appropriate licensed agency, and the latter agency shall notify the adoptee’s birth parent of the existence of the disease or illness.
(7) Compliance with the provisions of this section may be waived by the court, in its discretion, in any chancery court proceeding in which one or more of the petitioners for adoption is the natural mother or father of the adoptee.
§ 93-17-215. Request by adoptee for identifying information
Any person twenty-one (21) years of age or over who has been adopted in this state may request the bureau through a licensed adoption agency providing post-adoption services to obtain and provide the identifying information regarding either or both of his or her birth parents maintained as provided in Section 93-17-205, unless that birth parent has executed an affidavit prohibiting the release of such information.
§ 93-17-219. Search for birth parent; when permitted; fee; agency contact with birth parent; release of information to adoptee
(1) If the bureau does not have on file (a) an affidavit either authorizing release of identifying information or prohibiting such release and any further contact from each known birth parent for whom information is sought, or (b) a notice that such birth parent has been contacted once and has refused to authorize the release of confidential information, then the adoptee may request the agency to undertake a search for the birth parent who has not filed an affidavit or who has not been contacted. The licensed agency shall not inform any person other than the birth parents of the purpose of the search.
(2) The licensed agency may charge the adoptee a reasonable fee for the cost of the search. When the agency determines that the fee will exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for either birth parent, it shall notify the adoptee. No fee in excess of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per birth parent may be charged unless the adoptee, after receiving notification under this paragraph, has given consent to proceed with the search.
(3) Upon locating a birth parent the licensed agency conducting the search shall make at least one (1) verbal contact and notify him or her of the following:
(a) The nature of the information requested;
(b) The date of the request; and
(c) The fact that the birth parent has the right to consent to or prohibit the release of this information by filing with the bureau the affidavit to this effect.
(4) Within three (3) working days after contacting a birth parent, the licensed agency shall provide the birth parent with a written statement of the information requested and an affidavit form authorizing or prohibiting the release of the requested information. If the birth parent authorizes the release of the information, the licensed agency shall disclose the requested information about that birth parent.
(5) If a licensed agency has contacted a birth parent as provided by this section, and the birth parent does not file the affidavit, the agency shall not disclose the requested information.
(6) If, after a search under this section, a known birth parent cannot be located, the agency shall not disclose the requested identifying information about that birth parent, although it may disclose any available nonidentifying information regarding that birth parent, and it may disclose identifying information about the other birth parent if such other birth parent has signed an unrevoked affidavit authorizing such release. If a birth parent is located and refuses to authorize the release of identifying information, the agency locating this birth parent shall notify the bureau. The bureau shall note such contact and refusal in its records.
(7) Only one (1) contact shall be made with a birth parent pursuant to a search request under this section if the birth parent refuses to authorize the release of the requested information. Further contacts with a birth parent under this section on behalf of the same adoptee shall be prohibited.
§ 93-17-223. One birth parent prohibited from divulging identity of other parent
In cases where only one (1) of the birth parents has authorized the release of identifying information, that birth parent shall be prohibited from divulging to the adoptee the identity, or any information reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of the identity, of the other birth parent, and shall execute a sworn affidavit stating that no such information shall be revealed. The refusal of any birth parent to comply with this prohibition shall constitute an act of bad faith under the terms of Sections 93-17-201 through 93-17-223, and such birth parent shall be subject to civil liability for the release of such information.