Pre-adoption Birth Records
In most cases, we will process your request within ten business days. Learn more about the process below.
What is RSA 5-C:9 and how does it affect access to original birth information?
On May 12, 2004 the New Hampshire state legislature approved legislation with an effective date of January 1, 2005 granting New Hampshire born adult (18 years old and older) adoptees the right to request and obtain a non-certified copy of their pre-adoption birth information. Formerly, adoptees were required to obtain a court order granting them access to any health history of biological parents with all identifying information removed from the record.
RSA 5-C:9 provides birth parents the opportunity to place on file a contact preference form and/or health history questionnaire. If one has been placed on file with the division, the contact preference form or health history will be provided to the adoptee at the time their request for a pre-adoption record is fulfilled.
The contact reference form allows a birth parent to share their preference as to whether or not they wish to be contacted, whether they prefer the contact to be in person, through an intermediary or not at all. It is especially important for birth parent(s) to consider filing a health history questionnaire if they request no contact.
Who is eligible to order a pre-adoption record?
Adoptees (18 or older) that have reached the age of 18, their legal representative, or the adoptee's immediate legal family. The legal immediate family would include the adult adoptee's spouse, adoptive parents, siblings and the adoptee's children. Legal representative is further defined by the statute to include an attorney, physician, funeral director, or other authorized agent acting on behalf of the applicant or their family.
There must have been a certified record filed by a court of competent jurisdiction that sealed the original record and required the creation of a new one.
How do applicants order a pre-adoption record?
Pre-adoption (non-certified) records must be obtained directly from the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration. Unlike certified copies of current birth records, they are not available in local city or town clerk's offices. The adoptee may apply for a non-certified copy of their pre-adoption record through the mail or if in the Concord area, may visit our office and obtain their copy the same day - in most cases. Occasionally, additional research is required to produce an older record. Please allow four to six weeks for pre-adoption records from the 1930s back.
If mailed, the application packet must contain:
Completed and signed application. The application will need to contain full legal name of registrants) after adoption, date(s) of birth, place(s) of birth, both adoptive parent's legal names and adoptive mother's maiden surname. You will find our application here. It can be filled out online, printed, signed and mailed in with payment (in U.S. funds ONLY), return envelope and identification. That application is strictly for non-certified records. If you are also hoping to obtain a certified copy of your current, legal birth record you would use this application.
A $15 check or money order to perform a search for the record you seek. The $15 payment must be in U.S. funds ONLY. The check or money order should be made payable to "Treasurer, State of New Hampshire". If you wish to obtain more than one copy of the record at the same time, each additional copy will be $10 (in U.S. funds ONLY).
Positive photo identification is required in New Hampshire. You may submit a legible photocopy of your driver's license, passport or other government issued photo ID. To ensure that the photocopy of your identification is legible, please lighten and enlarge the image 200% when copying. If the identification is not legible your application will be rejected and returned to you.
A self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included and the address on your identification must match the address you provide on your application and return envelope. A notarized letter is required to provide authorization for the division to mail your confidential document to an address other than the one listed on your identification.
If any of the required items are missing from your application packet, it will be returned with a document outlining the reason for rejection. Anyone hoping to act as representative of a registrant and attempting to obtain a vital record will be required to provide a notarized document authorizing them to do so. Attorneys may submit a document on official firm letterhead that describes who they purport to represent, their direct and tangible interest in the record in question, and provides information on current record.
How quickly will I receive my record?
In most cases we will process your request within ten business days. Occasionally, older records will need further research before we can produce an accurate non-certified copy of the original birth information. If we encounter any difficulty researching a record we will contact the requestor to advise them of the delay.
What will I receive?
When a request is processed and the original record located, we copy that information onto a form that states that it is not a certified copy of a "birth certificate." It is information found on your original birth record and was released to you by the State Registrar of the New Hampshire Division of Vital Records Administration. The pre-adoption "record" will not be acceptable to government agencies as a legal birth certificate or for purposes of identification. When you receive your pre-adoption information you will also receive a contact preference and/or health history questionnaire if one was placed on file by a biological parent after this legislation went into effect.
The information on your pre-adoption document was provided by your birth parent(s) when you were born. The information may or may not be accurate. In new Hampshire a parent may give a child any name they wish or they may not name the child. The mother's name, as well as the father's (if listed) name may or may not be accurate. Once your adoption was finalized your birth parent(s) no longer had access to the birth record to make any changes.
If after performing a thorough search, we do not locate evidence of a pre-adoption record we will forward a "No Record" statement to you explaining the result. That statement will advise you that if you feel this result was reached incorrectly, you should contact our office and provide any additional information you feel might aid in our research. If after an additional search is undertaken, a pre-adoption record is located, you may exchange the no record statement you received for the newly discovered document.
Do adoptees have access to any other vital records?
The legislation granting adult adoptees access to their original birth information was very clear that this was the only information available to adoptees. Any knowledge gained by having access to their original birth information does not translate into eligibility to obtain the vital records of biological family members. The adoption severed any legal familial bonds and therefore ended eligibility as an immediate family member to anyone other than immediate legal (adoptive( family members.
If birth parents placed a contact preference form or health history questionnaire on file with the division, the adult adoptee has access to them. They will automatically be included inthe return envelope if there are any on file when the adoptee requests his or her pre-adoption record.
How can I get help locating my birth parents or biological family members?
The adoption agency that assisted in the adoption may have additional information they are able to share with the adoptee. In many cases there is health information or contact information for biological relatives seeking to locate adoptees with the agency. The Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Unit maintains files on children it assisted and will work with adoptees to share information or provide other assistance.
If the unit, also formerly known as DCYF or the New Hampshire Division of Welfare had anything to do with your adoption, they could possibly have additional information about your adoption on file. They can be reached at (603) 271-4702 or toll-free in New Hampshire (800) 852-3345 ext. 4702. They will assist you in your search, make first contact for you and act as an intermediary to ease the tension or fear of family members. If you are aware of a specific adoption agency being involved in your adoption, you should contact them directly.
How can birth parents share their preference regarding contact with the adoptee?
Birth parents have been given the opportunity to place on file with the division, a Contact Preference Form or Health History Questionnaire. Both forms are available ont he division website or can be picked up at the Division of Vital Records Administration's office at 9 Ratification Way (formerly 71 South Fruit Street) in Concord, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Once either or both of the forms is completed they can be dropped off, mailed or even emailed to the division to be placed with the adoptee's original birth information.
Mail forms to:
Division of Vital Records Administration
9 Ratification Way
Concord, NH 03301-2410
Email forms to:
The Contact Preference Form allows the birth parent to state clearly their feelings about contact with the adoptee. They can ask for no contact at all, contact through an intermediary or provide their contact information for the adoptee to contact them as soon as they would like. The form is merely an expression of the birth parent's wishes. it is not a legal document preventing the adoptee from looking for or contacting a birth parent.
The Health History Questionnaire is particularly important for a birth parent that wishes to have no contact to fill out. Many adoptees encounter medical issues in adulthood and it becomes important for them to determine and share with their physician if the issue could be hereditary or if a history of problems exist in their biological family.