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Birth Records

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Birth records are only one part of "adoption records." The full adoption file will include the original birth record (birth certificate), the adoption order, and records of interviews with both placing and adopting families. In older adoptions, these latter documents may be very vague or non-existent.

18th and 19th century birth records routinely showed the following information:

  • name of child
  • sex
  • color
  • date and place of birth
  • illegitimacy
  • stillbirth
  • names of living issue
  • fathers name and birthplace
  • mothers maiden name and birthplace
  • physician
  • date of registration and certification

Through the work of adoption pioneers like Edna Gladney (who campaigned to have the word "illegitimate" removed from birth records), and changing social perceptions and sensitivities, today's birth records may include "ethnic origin," and in the case of adoption, notations pertaining to the planned placement.

Birth records are generally available through state vital records departments or county clerks. To find birth records in your state, check the Public Records resource page and scroll down to Vital Records.

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