Finding Adoption Records in Florida

By Lindsay Kramer

Updated August 01, 2019

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Many adult adoptees and adult relatives of minor adoptees have questions they hope to get answered by accessing records related to their adoption proceedings. Conducting a Florida adoption records search to find these records can be challenging, and certain records are easier to access than others. There are a few different strategies you can use to conduct a Florida adoption records search, the most effective of which depends on the specific information you're seeking.

Who Can Access Florida Adoption Records?

Florida adoption records are not a matter of public record. To access records pertaining to a specific adoption, one must be:

  • The adult adoptee.
  • A birth parent.
  • An adoptive parent.
  • A birth or adoptive grandparent.
  • A birth sibling.

Open Adoption in Florida

Today, open adoption in Florida is a popular choice for families who choose adoption. With an open adoption, the child’s birth parents and adoptive parents often meet before the child’s birth, remain in touch through the birth mother’s pregnancy and remain in contact after the child’s birth. This level of contact nearly always means the open sharing of records, so the adults who have gone through open adoption proceedings in Florida can usually access their adoption records fairly easily.

Open adoption was not always as popular as it is today, which means many older adult adoptees came into their families through closed adoptions. This makes it much more difficult to access their Florida adoption records.

Identifying vs. Non-Identifying Information

Personal identifying information is more difficult to access than non-identifying information. A Florida adoption records search in pursuit of non-identifying information, like a person's medical and social history, can be directed to the Florida Post Adoption Services Unit or, if the adoption was facilitated by a private agency, through that agency.

Finding identifying information, such as the names and contact information for the parties involved in an adoption, typically starts by contacting the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services’ Adoption Unit. From here, the seeker may be directed toward certain records that can be accessed without court intervention. She may also be given information about how to access her original birth certificate or other adoption documents, which are maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics in the city or county where she was born and/or adopted.

Accessing Sealed Adoption Records

The challenge that many adoptees and their loved ones face in Florida is that adoption records are sealed when the adoption takes place. With the exception of records that the parties involved have authorized to be shared, the only way to access Florida adoption records is through a court order.

For many individuals seeking adoption records, the first route to accessing these documents is requesting that they voluntarily be opened. By registering with the Florida Adoption Reunion Registry (FARR), a person can potentially be connected with her birth parents or others who have also registered with FARR. Once connected through FARR, she may request this information. Alternatively, individuals adopted through private agencies can request that their agencies facilitate meetings and the unsealing of records if their birth parents consent to these actions.

When a seeker’s birth parents do not consent to unsealing adoption records, he may petition the court in the county where the adoption took place to have them unsealed. In the petition, he must provide a compelling reason why opening the records for his well-being outweighs the birth parents’ right to privacy by keeping them sealed. Reasons could include needing access to an original birth certificate, determining whether the adoptee is biologically related to someone he is considering marrying or tracing his lineage for genealogical research. Once the judge approves the petition, which is typically more likely if the birth parents are no longer alive, the adoptee can access his adoption records.