Adoption: Frequently Asked Questions


For legal questions about Texas vital records, please consult an attorney. Please note that because each situation is different, every application must be reviewed by a specialist to determine whether it is acceptable. If the application is determined to not be acceptable, you will be contacted with additional instructions, which will increase the processing time.

How do I request the opening of a sealed adoption record?

In order to open the sealed file, send us a certified copy of a court order granting the opening of the sealed adoption file. The court order must come from the same court that granted the adoption. The order must identify the correct sealed file by including the registrant's name as it appears on the current birth certificate, the registrant's date of birth, and the registrant's place of birth. The fee for a sealed file opening is $10.

If you do not know which court granted the adoption, you can send us a request to identify the court of adoption. The fee to request the identity of the court is $10. Click here to download the necessary form, VS143 Request for Identity of Court of Adoption.

I adopted a child and would like to have the birth certificate changed to the new information. What do I need to do?
If an adoption has been granted for a child who was born in Texas, please send in the completed VS160 Certificate of Adoption form certified by the district clerk's office. If you do not have a Certificate of Adoption, click here to download the VS160 Certificate of Adoption form.

The fee to file the new birth certificate based on adoption is $25. There is an additional fee of $22 for a certified copy of the new certificate once it is filed. A specialist trained in parentage issues will review your application. However, we cannot file the new application until all aspects of your application have been reviewed. If filing is not possible, Texas Vital Statistics will send you a letter explaining the situation.

I am adopted and would like to get a copy of my original birth certificate. How do I do that?
Adoptees are legally permitted to receive only a non-certified copy of their birth certificate. If you wish to obtain one, you must be able to meet all of the following criteria and submit the fee of $10:

  1. Identify the name of each parent listed on your original birth certificate.
  2. Be at least 18 years old.
  3. Submit a copy of a valid state-issued driver's license or government-issued photo ID.
  4. Provide other legal documentation if your name has changed due to marriage or other legal reasons. (Examples of legal documentation include copies of your official supplementary birth certificate based on the adoption, or your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court-ordered name change.)

Click here to download form VS145 Adult Adoptee Application for Non-Certified Copy of Original Birth Certificate. Send the form to us along with a copy of your valid government-issued photo ID and a $10 check or money order.

How do birth certificates identify an adopted child's mother and father if both adoptive parents are of the same sex?
The Texas Health and Safety Code 192.008 states that the supplementary birth certificate of an adopted child must be in the name of the adoptive parents, one of whom must be a female, named as the mother and the other of whom must be a male, named as the father.

To meet this statutory requirement, when a child is adopted by a same-sex couple, one of the adoptive parents must choose to be designated on the birth certificate as the father, in the case of a male couple, or the mother, in the case of a female couple. The other adoptive parent is not listed.

How do I request a non-identifying (redacted) copy of my adoption record from a closed Voluntary Central Adoption Registry file that is housed with the Vital Statistics Unit?

In 1984, the Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) started collecting and maintaining social and medical information on private non-relative adoptions.  VSU also houses records from many out-of-business child-placing agencies.  To review the list of available records that are maintained by VSU visit the adoption agencies page.

As required by law, specifically Texas Family Code §162-018 -- Access to Information, requires us to edit the record to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential.  Click here to download the necessary form, VS210 Request for Open Records Application.

How do I inquire through the Voluntary Central Adoption Registry to determine whether a child-placing agency that operates its own registry was involved in my adoption?

Section 181.44 of the Texas Administrative Code states that an individual eligible to apply to a Voluntary Adoption Registry may send an inquiry to the Voluntary Central Adoption Registry (CAR) to determine if a child-placing agency that operates its own registry was involved in a specified adoption.  If the CAR find incolclusive invormation to determine which agency handled the adoption, the person is entitled to apply only to the CAR.

Each applicant must sublit with the inquiry:

1. A $5.00 check or money order made payable to DSHS;
2. Proof of age and identity in the form of a photo ID, i.e., a valid driver's license, passport, or State ID; and
3. A copy of a legal document that includes the applicant's maiden name, i.e., a copy of a birth or marriage certificate if the applicant's name has changed due to marriage;
4. If the applicant is a sibling, a copy of his or her birth certificate must be included in order to verify the biological relationship;
5. If the applicant's name has been legally changed, a certified copy of the court odrer verifying the name change should accompany the request.


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Last updated March 02, 2015