- The Indiana Adoption Program at the Indiana Department of Child Services on IN.gov.
- July 1, 2018 - A new law that went into effect allowing any Indiana resident adopted before January 1, 1993 to request access to their adoption records. Those records were previously sealed. Senate Enrolled Act 91 opens the records unless the biological parent files a contact preference form to restrict access. Eligible individuals must register with the Adoption Matching Registry at the Indiana State Department of Health
- Adoptions page at IN.gov.
- Indiana Adoptees Network web page and Facebook page posts videos and other useful information.
- Adoptees to have greater access to birth records on July 1st by Scott Swain published May 15, 2018 on WTHR TV.com.
- New adoption records law brings renewed hope for woman in search of sister with video by Angelica Robinson posted August 30, 2018 on CBS WANE-TV NewsChannel 15. It briefly mentions the resources at The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Adoption Research Basics
by Sara Allen
Copied from Genealogy Gems: News from the Allen County Public Library at Fort Wayne, No. 225, November 30, 2022
Persons who were adopted often have many questions concerning their identity, background, health history, ethnicity, circumstances, and biological family. Many of these questions can be answered through a combination of historical and genealogical research, adoption records, and DNA testing (both medical testing and genealogical testing).
When, where, and under what circumstances did the adoption take place? In the United States, each state has different starting dates for requiring civil birth certificates to be issued, different laws about who can access those birth records, and different laws about who can access adoption records. Research the locality of interest to determine its laws surrounding adoption records. Most states in the United States and most US adoption agencies will release non-identifying information about the biological family to the adoptee or lineal descendants; some will release identifying information; and some will provide a confidential intermediary to help contact birth family. Check out the American Adoption Congress website for a statewide overview with links to official state websites (https://americanadoptioncongress.org/state.php).
Modern adoptions: Types of modern adoption-related records may include pre-adoption birth certificates, adoption decrees, official adoption files, social services files, foster care records, adoption agency records, non-identifying information, reunion matching registries, and more. Generally speaking in the US, the state or county vital records office would house the birth certificate, the county court would have the court records/adoption decree, the state vital records office might have the official adoption file, the adoption agency would also have a file, and the local or state department of child services would typically have foster care or ward of state records. Each state or locality may have slightly different storage and access for these types of records.
Historical adoptions: Prior to the twentieth century, formal adoptions through the legal system rarely occurred, but many children were informally taken in by other families. Orphans, wards, foster children, home children, juvenile delinquents, apprentices, and indentured servants were all terms that could be used to describe adoptable children in that time period. Records that one might find regarding these children include institutional records for orphanages; poor farms; children's homes; industrial schools; religious agencies; newspaper articles; and county or state records such as bastardy bonds, deeds (contracts or sales of indentures), apprenticeship records, probate records, and various miscellaneous court records.
What is the historical background of the adoption? To get the historicalbackground in general, there are a number of books and articles written about the history of adoption and adoption processes in various locations. One of these is “Adoption in America: Historical Perspectives,” edited by E. Wayne Carp.Persons researching the historical background of a specific adoption might consult local resources such as city directories, local history books, newspapers, and maps to provide background on the hospital where the adoptee was born, the adoption agency used, the names of the doctors, and the medical personnel involved in the birth, or the religious institution involved in the adoption. Another strategy would be to seek out the births listed in the local newspaper as occurring on that day.
What is the biographical and genealogical background of the birth family? Once the birth family’s identification has occurred, background information on the biological family can be found in city directories, school yearbooks, phone books, church or occupational directories and newsletters, census records, obituaries, newspaper articles, online people finder sites, social media, and much more.
What can be learned if adoption records cannot be viewed? How can DNA testing help? In some localities, adoption records remain closed to the adopted person or their family. In these cases, DNA testing of the adoptee or of their closest living relative at one of the big four direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies can provide some answers. Taking an autosomal DNA test with AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA (Family Finder test), MyHeritageDNA, or 23andme will provide general ethnic background as well as genetic cousin matches to others in the DNA company database. One can analyze his or her own DNA matches to determine the biological family, or there are a number of DNA search angel groups online such as Facebook’s DNA Detectives that will assist in identifying the birth family. Two books written about this process are “The DNA Guide for Adoptees” by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett, and “The Adoptee's Guide to DNA Testing” by Tamar Weinburg. The Genealogy Center has a DNA specialist available for consultations in person or online to advise patrons about their DNA results. Email us at Genealogy@ACPL.Info.
What is the health history of the adoptee? 23andme DNA testing company will provide one with a list of health reports, predispositions, and carrier status for some genes. Promethease.com ($) is an online website where one can upload the raw data file from the autosomal testing companies to receive a report of gene mutations or variants. If one’s medical doctor suspects a genetic condition, they can order medical genetic testing through their office.
The complex topic of adoption raises many questions. Be sure to ask those questions and start the journey of finding out more.
Copied from the Genealogy Gems ezine at the The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana with an Archive of online Genealogy Gems articles.
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