A new Massachusetts law eliminates a prior discriminatory donut hole that had denied equal rights to adopted people born between certain dates. Here’s how the new law works and who can now apply.
Does this mean all adopted people can get their own original birth certificates in Massachusetts?
Yes, yes it does. As of November 3, 2022, all Massachusetts-born adopted people have the unrestricted right as adults to request and obtain a copy of their own original birth certificates. The new law eliminates a “donut-hole” in prior law that prevented adopted people born between certain years (roughly 1974 through 2007) from applying for and obtaining their own records. That donut hole is now gone—as in, poof.
How old do I have to be to request my own OBC?
At least 18 years of age.
Who else can apply for the OBC other than the adopted person?
A child of a deceased adopted person has a right to request the pre-adoption birth record in the same way as the adopted person. If the child is still a minor, the parent of the minor child may apply for the record. No other persons are specifically authorized to request the birth record of a deceased adopted person.
How and where do I apply?
The application forms and more information about the process is on the Massachusetts Department of Health website here. The form to apply is available here. Other formats of the form exist on the informational page of the Department of Health. The address for sending the application by mail is on the form.
How much does it cost to apply?
It costs $32.00 for each copy if you apply by mail and $20.00 for each copy if you apply in person.
What will I receive when I apply for the original birth certificate?
You will likely receive only a copy of the original birth certificate, though if the certificate was amended prior to the adoption you may receive the amendments that were previously filed.
Is there a contact preference form for birthparents?
No. Massachusetts law does not provide for a contact preference form that birthparents could fill out to express a preference for contact.
Can I apply for my original birth certificate online?
No. It is currently available only by mail or in person.
How long will it take to get the copy of the original birth certificate?
This is not yet known. It’s possible you can receive the certificate on the same day if you apply in person.
Will any information on the original birth certificate be changed or removed?
No. The law does not allow for anyone to change or remove information from the original birth record.
Will I get a certified copy of the original birth certificate?
The state has indicated that the record is not considered certified, though it will be printed on security paper, a typical requirement for certified vital records. The record, however, will be stamped with the following statement:
The contents of this birth record are being released under section 2B of chapter 46 of the Massachusetts General Laws or under a court order. This record was amended by adoption. This is not a certified copy of a birth record.
Will the information on the original birth certificate be accurate?
That’s always a good question. It will reflect what was reported at the time by any legal birthparents and/or health professionals who registered the birth.
Is there a state or other group involved with this new law?
Yes. Access Massachusetts led much of the effort to enact this new law, along with dozens of individuals, allies, and other state and national groups, some for many years.
Where can I read the text of the new law?
You can find the relevant portions of the law here on Adoptee Rights Law Center, which has been updated to reflect the new law. Links to the state law are also on that page but the state of Massachusetts may not have updated its online statutes yet to reflect the new changes.
Will you be updating this FAQ when necessary?
Yes, I will update this FAQ as more information becomes available or if information changes or needs correction based on what I currently understand about the new law and how it is being implemented.
Have you updated your map yet?
Yes. Massachusetts is now green on the United States of OBC map. 🙂
US OBC Rights