Wisconsin

Adoption

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.432; 48.433

Nonidentifying information may be provided to:

  • The adopted person who is age 18 years or older
  • The adoptive parent
  • The guardian or legal custodian of an adopted person
  • The offspring of an adopted person if the requester is age 18 or older
  • An agency or social worker assigned to provide services to the adopted person or place the child for adoption

Identifying information may be accessed by the adopted person who is age 21 or older.

Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.432; 48.433

Whenever any person listed above wishes to obtain medical and genetic information about a birth parent who consented to his or her child’s adoption before February 1, 1982, and the information is not on file with the department or agency, the person may request that the department or agency conduct a search for the birth parents to obtain the information. The request shall be accompanied by a statement from a physician certifying either that the individual has or may have acquired a genetically transferable disease or that the individual’s medical condition requires access to the information.

If a birth parent is located but refuses to provide the information requested, the department or agency shall notify the requester without disclosing the birth parents identity or location, and the requester may petition the circuit court to order the birth parent to disclose the information. If the department or another agency that maintains records relating to the adoption receives a report from a physician stating that a birth parent or another offspring of the birth parent has acquired or may have a genetically transferable disease, the department or agency shall notify the adopted person of the existence of the disease, if he or she is age 18 or older, or notify the adopted person’s guardian or adoptive parent if he or she is younger than age 18.

If the department or agency may not disclose the identifying information requested per § 48.433, it shall provide the requester with any nonidentifying social history information about either of the birth parents that it has on file.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.433

The birth parent may file an affidavit authorizing the release of any available information about the birth parent’s identity and location. An affidavit may be revoked at any time by notifying the department or agency in writing.

An adopted person who is age 21 or older may request any available information regarding the identity and location of his or her birth parents. The requested information may be disclosed if the department or agency has on file unrevoked affidavits from both birth parents, or if one of the birth parents was unknown and the known birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit.

If the department or agency does not have on file an affidavit from each known birth parent, it shall, within 3 months after the date of the original request, search for each birth parent who has not filed an affidavit. If the birth parent is contacted and files an affidavit, the department shall disclose the requested information. If the birth parent does not file the affidavit, the department may not disclose the information. If, after a search, a known birth parent cannot be located, the department may disclose the requested information if the other birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit.

If a birth parent is known to be dead and has not filed an unrevoked affidavit, the department shall so inform the requester. The department may not release the identity of that parent but shall release any available information regarding the identity and location of the other birth parent if the other birth parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit and 1 year has elapsed since the death of the deceased birth parent.

The requester may petition the court to order the release of any information that may not be disclosed under this section.

Access to Original Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.433

The original birth certificate is available upon request to the adopted person who is age 21 or older if the birth parents have filed affidavits authorizing disclosure.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Adoption Records Search Program, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

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Collection of Family Information About Adopted Persons and Their Birth Families

Agency or Person Preparing the Report
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.425
The Department of Children and Families, a county department, or a licensed child welfare agency shall file a report with the court that shall include the social history and medical records of the child.

Contents of Report About the Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.425
The report shall include:

  • The social history of the child
  • A medical record of the child on a form provided by the department that shall include:
    • A report describing the child’s prenatal care and medical condition at birth
    • The medical and genetic history of the child and any other relevant medical and genetic information

Contents of Report About the Birth Family
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.425
The report shall include:

  • The medical and genetic histories of the birth parents and any medical and genetic information furnished by the birth parents about the child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters
  • A report of any medical examination that either birth parent had within 1 year before the date of the petition

When the Report Is Made
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.425; 48.93
The report shall be completed when a petition for the termination of parental rights is filed.At the time a court enters an order granting an adoption, a copy of the report shall be provided to the adoptive parents. The names and addresses of the child’s birth parents and the identity of any provider of health care to the child or the child’s birth parents shall be deleted from that copy of the report.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

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Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 854.20
A legally adopted person ceases to be treated as a child of the person’s birth parents for the purposes of intestate succession, except:

  • If the parent-child relationship between the child and one birth parent is replaced by adoption, but the relationship to the other birth parent is not replaced, then for all purposes the child continues to be treated as the child of the birth parent whose relationship was not replaced.
  • If a birth parent of a marital child dies and the other birth parent remarries and the child is adopted by the stepparent, the child is treated as the child of the deceased birth parent for purposes of intestate succession. However, it does not apply if the parental rights of the deceased birth parent had been terminated.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 854.20
A legally adopted person is treated as a birth child of the person’s adoptive parents for purposes of intestate succession by, through, and from the adopted person. This only applies if one of the following apply:

  • The deceased person is the adoptive parent or adopted child.
  • The adopted person was a minor at the time of adoption.
  • The adoptive parent raised the adopted person in a parent-like relationship beginning on or before the child’s 15th birthday and lasting for a substantial period or until adulthood.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 853.25; 854.21
If a will fails to provide for a child the testator adopted after execution of the will, the child is entitled to a share of the estate unless any of the following applies:

  • It appears from the will or from other evidence that the omission was intentional.
  • The testator provided for the omitted child by transfer outside the will with the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision.

If a will fails to provide for a child who was adopted after the execution of the will, and the testator had no child living when he or she executed the will, the omitted child receives a share in the estate equal in value to that which the child would have received under intestate succession. This paragraph does not apply if the will gave all or substantially all of the estate to the other parent of the omitted child and that other parent survives the testator and is entitled to take under the will.

If a will fails to provide for a child who was adopted after the execution of the will, the testator had one or more children living when he or she executed the will, and the will gave property to one or more of the then-living children, the omitted child is entitled to share in the testator’s estate as follows:

  • The portion that the omitted child is entitled to share is limited to bequests made to the testator’s then-living children under the will.
  • The omitted child is entitled to receive the share of estate that he or she would have received had the testator included all omitted after-born and after-adopted children with the children to whom bequests were made and had given an equal share of the estate to each child.

A gift of property to a class of persons described as ‘issue,’ ‘children,’ ‘descendants,’ ‘heirs,’ ‘next of kin,’ or the like includes a person adopted by a person whose birth child would be a member of the class.

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State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.97

When the relationship of parent and child has been created by an order of adoption of a court of any other State or nation, the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this State shall be determined by § 48.92. If the adoptive parents were residents of this State at the time of the foreign adoption, the preceding sentence applies only if the department has approved the placement.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.97

A child whose adoption would otherwise be valid under this section may be readopted in accordance with this chapter.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 69.15(2)(b)

If the State Registrar receives an order that provides for an adoption of any person born outside of the United States by any person who is a resident of this State at the time of adoption, and if the adoptive parents present proof of the facts of birth to the State Registrar, the State Registrar shall prepare a certification of birth data for the subject of the adoption. The certification shall indicate:

  • The date and place of birth
  • The child’s adoptive name
  • The adoptive parents’ names
  • The sources of information of each of these facts

If neither of the birth parents of the subject of the adoption are U.S. citizens, the new certification may include proof of the naturalization of the subject of the adoption.


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