Are Adoptees entitled to their adoption records?

On a general basis, information regarding a person’s adoption is not available for inspection, unless a judge of probate of the county where such records are kept, for good cause shown, shall otherwise order. However, an adopted person is entitled to nonidentifying data under G. L. c. 210, § 5D(a)(1) such information includes “information about their biological parents which will not identify or tend to lead to the identification of the biological parents or their present or former locations” from the adoption agency or a court which handled that persons adoption under G. L. c. 210, § 5D(a)(1). However, specific information, under Chapter 210, § 5C, “shall not be available for inspection, unless a [probate and family court] judge of the county where such records are kept, for good cause shown, shall otherwise order.”

 

A Petitioner may file a request for release of her adoption records pursuant to G. L. c. 210. However, a petitioner simply seeking the identity of their biological parents would not justify the disclosure of the records. A judge would generally have to weigh the competing interests of the adoptee, seeking to ascertain their family history, compared to the privacy rights of their biological parents. See Fineberg v. Suffolk Division of the Probate & Family Court, 38 Mass.App.Ct. 907 (1995).

 

Therefore, as with many legal questions, whether an adoptee is entitled to their adoptive records depends on the circumstances. While adopted persons are always entitled to the nonidentifying information pursuant to c. 210, § 5D(a)(1), good cause must exist in order for a Court to allow Petitioner’s request for more detailed, identifying information. One such example of a good cause would be an adoptee seeking medical information regarding that adoptee’s biological parents.