Exciting Changes Coming to Utah’s Adoption Law

A new law, effective November 1, 2021, allows Utah-born adoptees to now get a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate without having to go to court, if the birth parents give permission. (Original birth certificates are sealed when a child is placed for adoption.) It also allows adoptees who know their birth parents are deceased to obtain a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate.

These changes were made during the 2020 general session of the Utah State Legislature when House Bill (HB) 345 Personal Records Amendments, introduced by Representative Stewart Barlow, was passed. The bill’s effective date was delayed until November 1. 

The Utah Adoption Registry has been around since 1987 and is a voluntary, mutual consent registry that helps adoptees older than 18 who were born in Utah, their birth parents, and blood-related siblings reunite with one another. The Utah Adoption Registry is the only adoption registry with access to original pre-adoption birth certificate records for Utah births. Individuals will need to create an account with the registry in order to give permission for these records to be shared or to access these records. If there are two birth parents listed on the birth certificate and only one gives permission, information about the other birth parent is redacted. 

“The registry has been updated to allow adoptees access to these records according to the law, as well as for birth parents to update important information like health histories and to give permission to share records with their adopted children when they turn 18. If both parties are registered and provide the necessary information, these records will be available to adoptees beginning on November 1,” said Linda Wininger, director of the Utah Department of Health Office of Vital Records and Statistics.

Benefits of the new system 

  • Log in any time to review your information and check the status of your match search.
  • Update the contact information you wish to share with your match. 
  • Update the information you wish to receive from your match.
  • Birth parents may decide to use an intermediary instead of sharing their own information.
  • Birth parents may register their consent to release a non-certified copy of the original birth certificate to the adoptee with or without releasing any other contact information.
  • Birth parents may upload documents such as non-identifying health and social history or other information for the adoptee to access. These documents can be made available with or without sharing any other contact information. 
  • Adoptees may request a copy of their original non-certified birth certificate after birth parent consent or if their birth parents are deceased. 
  • Adoptees may login any time to download their non-certified original birth certificate or other documents submitted by their birth parents after their match is verified.

Individuals who are interested in finding their birth families or accessing these records need to create a user account with the Utah Adoption Registry, even if they had previously registered with it. For people who weren’t previously registered, there is a $25 fee. Wininger encourages people to create their accounts now, before the law goes into effect. “The system is set up and ready. I would encourage anyone who is looking for information about their birth parents or adopted children to create their account as soon as possible. Matching these records to the right people and making sure everyone has given consent to share information takes time.” 

To learn more about the Utah Adoption Registry or to create an account, visit https://adoptionregistry.utah.gov.

Charla Haley