Massachusetts

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

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Who May Access Information
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

Nonidentifying information may be provided to:

  • The adopted prson who is age 18 or older
  • The adoptive parents
  • The birth parents

Identifying information may be released to:

  • The adopted person who is age 21 or older
  • The adoptive parents
  • The birth parents

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

A placement agency that holds records relating to an adopted person, the birth parents, or the adoptive parents shall:

  • Release to the adopted person who is age 18 or older, upon his or her written request, information about his or her birth parents that does not identify the birth parents or their present or former locations
  • Release to a birth parent of an adopted person, upon the birth parent’s written request, information about the adopted person that does not reveal his or her identity after adoption or his or her present or former locations
  • Release to an adoptive parent, if the adopted person is under age 18, upon the adoptive parent’s written request, information about the adopted person and his or her birth parents that does not identify the birth parents or their present or former locations

The information shall include such nonidentifying information that the agency holds concerning the medical, ethnic, socioeconomic, and educational circumstances of the person. The agency, in its discretion, shall further release such nonidentifying information concerning the circumstances under which the adopted person became available for adoption as it deems to be in the best interest of the person so requesting.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5D

If a placement agency has received written permission from a birth parent to release the identity of the birth parent to the adopted person and the agency has received written permission from the adopted person, or written permission from the adoptive parents if the adopted person is under age 21, to release the identity after adoption of the adopted person to the birth parent, then the agency shall release the identity of the adopted person to the birth parent and the identity of the birth parent to the adopted person.

The placement agency shall:

  • Release to the birth parent, upon the birth parent’s written request, any personal data that it holds relating to the birth parent
  • Release to an adoptive parent, upon his or her written request, any personal data that it holds relating to the adoptive parent

In making any disclosure of information, the agency shall remove personal identifiers relating to a third person. All other adoption records held by the placement agency shall be confidential and shall not be released.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5C

All records concerning the adoption proceedings are available only upon court order.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Adoption Search Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Social Services

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

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Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, §§ 5A; 5D
The Department of Children and Families shall conduct the investigation of the adoption petition.A placement agency may release records that it holds relating to an adopted person or the birth parents of an adopted person.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, §§ 5A; 5D
The department shall make appropriate inquiry to determine the condition and antecedents of the child for the purpose of ascertaining whether he or she is a proper subject for adoption.In any petition for adoption the department shall submit to the court verification that the adopted person is not registered with the Federal register for missing children and the central register.

The agency, in its discretion, shall further release such nonidentifying information concerning the circumstances under which the adopted person became available for adoption as it deems to be in the best interests of the person so requesting.

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, §§ 5A; 5D
The placement agency shall release to an adoptive parent, upon the adoptive parent’s written request, information about the adopted person and his or her birth parents that will not identify or tend to lead to the identification of the birth parents or their present or former locations. Such information shall include such nonidentifying information that the agency has concerning the medical, ethnic, socio-economic, and educational circumstances of the person.

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5A
Upon the filing of a petition for adoption of a child under age 14, notice shall be given to the Department of Children and Families to make an investigation of the child and his or her family. The department shall submit its written report to the court no later than 30 days after receipt of the notice.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 5A
The court may waive the provisions of this section in the case of a petition for the adoption of a child of one of the parties petitioning for said adoption.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

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Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 7
Upon adoption, a person shall lose his or her right to inherit from his or her birth parents or family, except when one of the birth parents of a minor child has died and the surviving parent has remarried. The adoption of such child by the birth parent’s spouse shall not affect the rights of the child to inherit from or through the deceased parent or kindred.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, §§ 7; 9
An adopted person shall be entitled to the same share of the adopting parent’s estate as he or she would have taken if born to such parent in lawful wedlock.If the adopted person dies intestate, his or her property shall be distributed among the persons who would have been his or her kindred as if he or she had been born to the adopting parent(s) in lawful wedlock.

A person adopted in another State or country shall, upon proof of such fact, be entitled to the same rights of succession to property by intestacy as he or she would have had if he had been adopted in the Commonwealth.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

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Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 210, § 9

An adoption decree issued abroad in accord with the laws of that country will have the same effect on the adopted child’s rights of succession to property by grant, trust settlement, entail, devise, bequest, or by intestacy as would an adoption granted by this State.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 46, § 1B

Any resident of the State who is the parent of a child born outside the State may personally present to the town clerk of the town where such parent was domiciled at the time of the birth, or in the case of an adopted child, at the time of the adoption, an original certificate or other written evidence of the birth, and a certified copy of the adoption decree if adopted, or a duly authenticated photocopy thereof. The town clerk may file such documents as evidence establishing the birth or adoption, or may make a copy thereof, which he shall attest as a true copy, and which he may then file as such evidence.


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