Adoption Research

Also see: Contemporary Adoption Research

Genealogical Research
Genealogy is the study of family descents so looking for a child or a birthparent is a form of genealogical research. Genealogists and adoptee/birthparent searchers have the same goals: locating relatives and constructing the family roots.

Local, state, and national archives are a prime source of information for genealogical researchers. The Oregon State Archives has prepared help aids on census, land, military, naturalization, probate and vital records which are useful sources for doing family research. They are available through the Reference Room or on the World Wide Web.

Specific adoption information in the Oregon State Archives may appear in state agency or county court records. This information is restricted from public use under Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 7.211. Information about gaining access to this information is available upon request at the Reference Desk. A Restricted Access Form is provided which requires written authorization from a "court of competent jurisdiction."

County court judicial journals, probate records, and some state agency records (e.g. Public Welfare Commission Records Care Facility Monthly Reports) can be useful sources for adoption information.

Published Reports
The adoption procedure is a legal process pursuant to state statute and has no historical basis in common law. Oregon passed an adoption law in 1864 entitled "An act to provide for the adoption of children" (Deady General Laws of Oregon 1843-1872, p. 562) This law required that each county judge report change of names made in the court to the office of the secretary of state, annually, for publishing with the statutes the following year. This report includes the date, present name, former name, by whom adopted and county. These reports appear in the biennial Oregon Laws through 1919, reflecting changes of names and adoptions through 1918. The law was repealed in 1921. The biennial Oregon Laws are available in the Reference Room of the Oregon State Archives or other libraries in the state.

Other Sources
The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by Arlene Eakle & Johni Cerny, published by Ancestry Publishing Company, 1984.

Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives National Archives and Records Administration, 1985.

Search: A handbook for adoptees and birthparents by Jayne Askin, published by Harper & Row, 1982.

The Adoption Searchbook by Mary Jo Rillera, published by Triadoption Publications, 1981.

Contemporary Adoption Research

In Oregon, adoptions are handled by Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), Adoption Services Unit <www.oregon.gov/DHS/children/adoption/index.shtml>, by a private agency, or through independent arrangements. DHS is the central source for all adoption data in Oregon and collects individual case data on public agency adoptions but only has aggregate data on other adoptions. DHS has kept records on all adoptions since May 1920. There are 24 private adoption agencies in Oregon. In Oregon the Circuit and County Courts both have jurisdiction over adoptions. (The Flow of Adoption Information from the States, Victor E. Flango, Carol R. Flango, National Center for State Courts, 1994)

Voluntary Adoption Registry
The voluntary adoption registry is a service offered by the DHS Adoption services to help persons wishing to receive adoption information. Identifying information is available to birth parents of an adoptee; adult adoptee; an adoptees genetic sibling who is 18 years of age or older; adoptive parents of a deceased adoptee; adult siblings of deceased birth parents or an adoptee; parents of deceased birth parents of an adoptee; putative father of adult adoptee. Information includes the current name and address of the registrant; any previous name by which the registrant was known; the original or adopted names of the adopted child; the place and date of birth of the adopted child; and the name and address of the agency, which made the adoptive placement. Registration is $25.

Non-identifying information is available to adoptive parent of the adoptee or adoptee’s guardian; the birth parents of the adoptee; the adoptee if age 18 or older; in the event of the death of the adoptee: the adoptee’s spouse, if the spouse is the birth parent of the adoptee’s child or the guardian of any child of the adoptee; or any progeny of the adoptee who is 18 years of age or older. Information includes genetic, social and health history of the adoptee, if known, excluding identifying information. Registration is $45. (Oregon Revised Statutes 109.425 et seq., Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 413, Division 130)

Registry packets are available from the Department of Human Services, Adoption Registry, 2nd Floor South, 500 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97310-1068, tel. 503-945-6643 or 503-945-5670.

How is information obtained?
When DHS determines that a match exists, they will notify the affected persons of the match by a method which is direct and confidential. DHS may recommend appropriate counseling by a DHS social worker prior to the release of identifying information to eligible persons.

Assisted Search Program
DHS provides an Assisted Search Program with an initial fee of $400. Subsequent searches are $200 for registrants with more than one person they wish to search for. Contact DHS for further information on how to initiate a search.

Adoptee Birth Certificates Opened
Ballot Measure 58, requiring issuing copy of original Oregon birth certificate to adopted persons, was proposed by initiative petition and was approved by the voters at the regular general election on November 3, 1998. The law was immediately appealed and did not take effect until May 31, 2000. (see more detailed history). The adopted person must be 21 years of age or older and be born in the State of Oregon.

Other Sources
The World Wide Web is a source of information on issues, agencies, and publications useful in adoption search. Check out the following:

Coalition of Oregon Adoption Agencies: http://www.oregonadoptionagencies.org/

Oregon Department of Human Services Adoption Unit resources and referrals: www.oregon.gov/DHS/children/adoption/index.shtml

Child Welfare Information Gateway-Adoption, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

(Revised May 19, 2009)

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us