Adoption Fact Sheet: Issues for Adopted Children

What information can I get about my biological parents?  

Adoption records are confidential.  If you were adopted you may be able to get information to identify your biological parents.  A biological parent or an adult biological sibling must have signed a release of information or consent form.  If not, you may only be able to obtain background social and medical information. 

Birth and adoption records are kept at the Oho Department of Health.
The Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics, keeps birth and adoption records of persons born in Ohio and adopted anywhere in the United  States.  For more information see for information and forms.  Look for ‘adoption information’ in the a to z search. 

Adoptions before 1964:  You will need to complete an affidavit and have it notarized.  Send it with copies of two pieces of identification and a fee.  Obtain the forms from the Department of Health.  This file will not include medical information. 

Adoptions between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996:  These adoption records are sealed and only opened by a probate court order. 

Adoptions after September 18, 1996:  These adoption records are open to the adopted person over age 21.  Birth information will be disclosed if the biological parents or a biological sibling have signed an authorization to release the information.  This form must have been registered with the Department of Health.   The adopted person must complete a request form and provide copies of two forms of identification. 

For more information, use the website links or contact the Ohio Department of Health, customer service team at  614-466-2531. Request a form or mail a request to Office of Vital Statistics, P.O. 15098, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Adopted persons may also petition Probate Court.
You may file a petition to seek your birth name and the identity of your biological parents.  This petition must be filed in the probate court of the county where you live or where the adoption occurred.  There is a filing fee.

The probate court will appoint an agency to investigate.  The probate judge will order the Department of Health to give the agency a copy of your original birth record or the name of the court that ordered the adoption.  This should happen within ninety days or so.   The agency will investigate to determine if:

  • You were adopted;
  • a consent has been filed by one or both of your biological parents authorizing the release of identifying information; and
  • one or both of your biological parents are deceased. 

The agency will report its findings to the Probate Court.  A copy of your original birth record will be attached to the report.     

The Probate Court may release information about your birth name and the identity of your biological parents only if:

  • the parent is deceased;  or
  • the parent or biological sibling has signed to authorize the release of the identifying information. 

However, if both biological parents are still living and a release is not in the file, the petition will not be granted until releases are signed.

How can I find out about my medical background? 

You may request the social and medical histories of your biological parents.  Ask the clerk of the probate court for a request form.  These histories are now kept as part of the permanent record in probate court.  Older adoption files may not contain these records.  You can also ask to be updated if any new information is made available.   Be sure to give written notice of a change of address to the court if you move.


This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated May 2012.