West Virginia

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-601; 48-23-402

Nonidentifying information may be provided to:

  • The adoptive parents or, in the event of death of the adoptive parents, the child’s guardian
  • The adopted person who is age 18 or older
  • The birth parent

If the adopted person is deceased, nonidentifying information may be provided to:

  • The adopted person’s spouse if he or she is the legal parent of the adopted person’s child or the guardian of any child of the adopted person
  • Any progeny of the adopted person who is age 18 or older

Identifying information may be obtained through the mutual consent voluntary adoption registry by:

  • The birth parent when the child is age 18 or older
  • The adult adopted person except when there is a sibling in his or her adoptive family who is under age 18

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-23-601

Prior to placement for adoption, the agency shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents a detailed written health history and genetic and social history of the child. These histories must exclude information that would identify birth parents or members of a birth parent’s family.Records containing such nonidentifying information shall be retained by the clerk of the court for 99 years, and shall be available upon request, together with any additional nonidentifying information that may have been added on health or genetic and social history, to any person listed above.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-501 through 48-23-504; 48-22-702

The adult adopted person and each birth parent may register by submitting an affidavit to the registry. The failure of any person to file with the registry for any reason, including death or disability, precludes the disclosure of identifying information to those persons who do register.

Upon registering, the registrant must participate in no less than 1 hour of counseling with a social worker.

In any case where the identity of the birth father was unknown to the birth mother, or one or both of the birth parents are deceased, this information shall be shared with the adult adopted person. In these cases, the adopted person will not be able to obtain identifying information through the registry.

The affidavit must include, if known:

  • The current name and address and any previous name by which the person was known
  • The child’s original and adopted names
  • The place and date of the child’s birth
  • The name and address of the agency that placed the child

The administrator of the registry shall process each affidavit in an attempt to match the adopted person and the birth parents. There is a match when the adult adopted person and the birth parent have each registered and received the required counseling. When a match has taken place, the department shall directly notify all parties through a direct and confidential contact.

If an adopted person or parent of a minor adopted person cannot obtain identifying information by use of the registry, identifying information may be sought by petitioning the court. If the court is unable to obtain consent from either of the birth parents, the court may release identifying information to the adopted person if at a hearing the court finds there is evidence of compelling medical or other good cause for release of such identifying information.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code § 16-5-18

The State Registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in West Virginia when he or she receives a certificate of adoption or a certified copy of the order of adoption, together with the information necessary to identify the original certificate of birth and to establish a new certificate of birth.

A new certificate of birth shall show the actual city, county and date of birth, if known, and shall be substituted for the original certificate of birth on file. The original certificate of birth and the evidence of adoption may be inspected only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction, except as provided by legislative rule or as otherwise provided by State law.

Where the Information Can Be Located

West Virginia Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry, Department of Health and Human Resources

(Back to Top)

Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-23-601
The licensed adoption agency or, where an agency is not involved, the person, entity, or organization handling the adoption, shall compile and provide to the prospective adoptive parents a detailed, written, health history and genetic and social histories of the child.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-601; 48-23-207
The prospective adoptive parents shall be given a detailed written health history and genetic and social history of the child. A health history is a comprehensive report of the child’s health status at the time of placement for adoption and medical history, including neonatal, psychological, physiological, and medical care history.

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-23-601; 48-23-206
A genetic and social history is a comprehensive report on the birth parents, siblings to the birth parents, if any, other children of either birth parent, if any, and parents of the birth parents that shall contain the following information:

  • Medical history
  • Health status
  • Cause of and age at death
  • Height, weight, eye color, and hair color
  • Ethnic origins
  • Where appropriate, levels of educational and professional achievement
  • Religion, if any

These histories must exclude information that would identify birth parents or members of a birth parent’s family.

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-23-601
The report must be provided to the prospective adoptive parents prior to placement of the child for adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

(Back to Top)

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-703
Upon the entry of the final adoption decree, the birth parents shall be divested of all legal rights, including the right of inheritance from or through the adopted child.Such child shall not inherit from any person entitled to parental rights prior to the adoption or their kindred, except that a child legally adopted by a husband or wife of a person entitled to parental rights prior to the adoption shall inherit from such person as well as from the adopting parent.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-703
From and after the entry of the order of adoption, a legally adopted child shall inherit from and through the parent(s) by adoption and their kindred.

If the adopted person dies intestate, all property, including real and personal, of such adopted person shall pass to the adopting parent(s).

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will
Citation: Ann. Code § 41-4-1
If any person dies leaving a child, and his or her will was made when he or she had no child living, and any child he or she might have is not provided for or mentioned, such child, or any descendant of the child, shall inherit such portion of the testator’s estate as he or she would have been entitled to if the testator had died intestate.

(Back to Top)

State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree
Citation: Ann. Code § 48-22-901

When an adoption occurs in a foreign country and the adopted child has immigrated to the United States with the permission of the United States, this State shall recognize the adoption. The rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined as though the adoption decree was issued by a court of this State.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 48-22-902; 48-22-903

Any time after the child has immigrated to the United States, the adoptive parents may petition the court to recognize the foreign adoption decree that was issued abroad. The petition will set forth:

  • The name and address of the petitioner(s)
  • The name of the child adopted abroad
  • The name by which the child will now be known
  • The child’s country of origin and date of birth, if known
  • That the child has a visa or other document authorizing entry into the United States and the date of entry
  • That a home study of the petitioner(s) was prepared
  • The date on which the adoption was decreed in the foreign country

A copy of the visa or other documentation, the home study, and the foreign adoption decree or other document(s) that evidence finalization of the adoption in the foreign country, along with an English translation, will be attached to the petition.

The petition may include requests for specific relief or findings to meet the best interests of the child that may be granted at the court’s discretion, such as a revised birth date if a physician has recommended a revision of the child’s birth date.

The court shall review the petition and accompanying documentation and, if the court finds the petition and documentation to be satisfactory, it shall enter an order of adoption stating that the documentation required has been submitted and is satisfactory and that the adoption must be recognized in West Virginia and shall have the same force and effect as if the decree of adoption was granted in accordance with the provisions of the West Virginia adoption act. The order must set forth the name by which the child shall be known and other pertinent findings of the court. The court shall enter the order without the necessity of a hearing unless deemed necessary or a hearing is requested. The provisions of § 48-22-702(a),(d),(e) shall apply to all orders issued hereunder and a new birth certificate shall be issued.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-5-16(a); 16-5-18(h)

When a court has entered an adoption order, it shall require the preparation of a certificate of adoption. The certificate of adoption shall be certified by the clerk of the court and shall provide:

  • In the case of a person who was born in a foreign country, evidence from sources determined to be reliable by the court as to the date and place of birth
  • Information necessary to establish a new certificate of birth of the adoptee
  • Information sufficient to identify the order of adoption

Upon receipt of the required documentation, the State Registrar shall prepare and register a certificate in this State for a person born in a foreign country who is not a citizen of the United States and who was adopted through a court of competent jurisdiction in this State. The State Registrar shall establish the certificate upon receipt of:

  • A certificate of adoption from the court ordering the adoption
  • Proof of the date and place of the child’s birth
  • A request that the certificate be prepared, from the court, the adopting parents, or the adoptee who is at least age 18

The certificate shall be labeled ‘Certificate of Foreign Birth’ and shall show the actual country of birth. The certificate shall include a statement that it is not evidence of U.S. citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.


Leave a Reply