Adoption Records Search Program

Wisconsin’s Adoption Records Search Program works with adoptees, adults whose birth parents’ rights were terminated, and birth parents to gain access to vital pieces of adoptees’ social and medical histories. The Adoption Records Search Program law is outlined in Wis. Stat. §§ 48.432 – 48.433.

The Wisconsin Adoption Records Search Program can only provide information when termination of parental rights and/or adoption finalization occurred in Wisconsin

Applicants requesting information from the Search Program must be 18 years old or older and must be any of the following:

  • An adult adoptee who was adopted in Wisconsin
  • A person whose birth parents’ rights were terminated in Wisconsin
  • An adoptive parent of a person adopted in Wisconsin
  • A guardian or legal custodian of a person adopted in Wisconsin or whose birth parents’ rights were terminated in Wisconsin
  • An offspring (adult child) of a person adopted in Wisconsin
  • The parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the offspring of a deceased individual or adoptee, if the offspring is under 18 years of age
  • An agency or social worker assigned to provide services to a person adopted in Wisconsin or whose birth parent’(s) rights were terminated

Apply Online Download a Printable Application

To learn more, click on the below tabs or view the Adoption Records Search Program information sheet:

What information may be shared?

All applicants may receive non-identifying information. This means that names, dates, contact information, and other information that can be used to identify the birth parents will be redacted (hidden) from the documentation.

These documents could include:

  • Case notes and documentation
  • Medical, dental, and psychiatric information
  • Birth records and delivery information
  • Medical/genetic history of the adoptee and birth relatives
  • Educational materials
  • Legal information and court documents
  • Letters or handwritten notes

The following applicants may be able to receive identifying information:

  • Adult adoptees who were adopted in Wisconsin
  • Persons whose birth parents’ rights were terminated in Wisconsin
  • Offspring of adult adoptees or persons whose birth parents’ rights were terminated in Wisconsin, if the adoptee/person is deceased

Identifying information is only available if all known birth parents have provided a notarized affidavit consenting to the release of information or are deceased.

Identifying information could include the unredacted versions of the above documents, current contact information for living birth parents, and/or the original, impounded birth certificate.

What should I put in an outreach statement?

Adoptees and adults whose birth parents’ rights were terminated are asked to provide an outreach statement as part of their application for the program. The outreach statement often plays a major role in a birth parent’s decision to consent to the release of information.

There’s no “best” way to write an outreach statement; they vary greatly and should be personal, thoughtful, and unique to the applicant. Outreach statements can be handwritten or typed. Some things that may be included in an outreach statement include:

  • Your reason for submitting a Search request at this time
  • An overview of what your life has been like since adoption or what it is like now
  • General information about yourself (like your education, occupation, marital or partner status, specific interests or hobbies, and whether you have children)
  • Your thoughts on your adoption or your life as an adoptee
  • What you want out of your Search request (e.g., just information; to meet your birth parents; to form an ongoing relationship with birth relatives)

Outreach statements cannot include identifying information (like names and contact information) or photos.

What should I know before submitting an Adoption Search application?

Submitting an Adoption Search Application may be the first step Wisconsin adoptees take when they begin actively searching for information about birth relatives. For others, it’s a final step to confirm information they have found elsewhere—or may fall anywhere in between along the search journey. 

No matter where the Adoption Search Program fits into your search journey, below are some recommendations and reflections from other adoptees on the search process.

  1. Be prepared for the unexpected” and “check your expectations at the door.” Every search experience is different, and adoptees stress the importance of coming into the process with an open mind and without expectations of a “Hollywood happy filled reunion.”
  2. “[Make] sure you have supportive people surrounding you when you search.” The search process can be challenging and full of many different emotions: anticipation, frustration, grief, joy, etc. It’s important to have a support system during the search process to help navigate the emotions and unexpected situations that arise.
  3. Be ready to allow new information into your story. The information you learn through the search process may be familiar, but it also may be very different than what you and/or your adoptive parents were told.
I am a birth parent. Can I get information from this program?

Current Wisconsin law does not permit birth parents to request information through the Adoption Records Search Program. However, birth parents can:

  1. Request that the Adoption Records Search Program locates their birth child(ren) to provide urgent medical or genetic information. A written statement from a licensed medical provider will be required with this request.
  2. File a notarized affidavit consenting to the release of their information. This can be provided to the Adoption Records Search Program at any time so that it is already on file when and if a birth child requests information.
  3. Revoke an affidavit that was previously filed.

To do any of the above, contact the Adoption Records Search Program by emailing DCFAdoptionSearch@wisconsin.gov, calling (608) 422-6928, or sending a letter to:

Adoption Records Search Program
PO Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916

I am a sibling/spouse/cousin/other relative of an adoptee. Can I get information from this program?

Current Wisconsin law only permits those listed above to apply for the Search Program. Siblings, spouses, cousins, and other relatives are not able to use this program.

How do I get more information or support? 

Contact the Adoption Records Search Program for more information about the program or for additional support. This could include:

  • Requesting a paper copy of the application, affidavit, or other forms via mail
  • Confirming that you meet the eligibility criteria to access information prior to submitting an application
  • Talking through the decision to Search—what questions or concerns do you have about the Search process?

You can get in touch with the Adoption Records Search Program by emailing DCFAdoptionSearch@wisconsin.gov, calling (608) 422-6928, or sending a letter to:

Adoption Records Search Program
PO Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916

Adoption Search Forms

Below are forms related to the Adoption Records Search Program, including the application, affidavits, medical / genetic forms, and court forms. Filter the table by audience: Adoptee, Birth Parent, or Court.

Audience Form Name Form Number Language Form Type
Adoptee Adoption Search Application DCF-F-CFS0144 English Word
Adoptee Adoptee Affidavit DCF-F-5096-E English Word
Birth Parent Affidavit DCF-F-CFS0142 English PDF
Birth Parent Affidavit DCF-F-CFS0142-E English Word
Birth Parent Daim Ntawv Teev Lus (Affidavit) DCF-F-CFS0142-E-H Hmong PDF
Birth Parent Declaración Jurada (Affidavit) DCF-F-CFS0142-E-S Spanish PDF
Birth Parent Birth Parent Request for Adoptee’s Identity DCF-F-5097-E English Word
Birth Parent Solicitud del Padre Biológico Para Conocer la Identidad del Adoptado DCF-F-5097-E-S Spanish Word
Birth Parent Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic DCF-F-CFS0149-E English PDF
Birth Parent Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic - Pregnancy and Delivery Information DCF-F-CFS0149A English PDF
Birth Parent Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic DCF-F-CFS0149-E English Word
Birth Parent Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic - Pregnancy and Delivery Information DCF-F-CFS0149A-E English Word
Birth Parent Cov Lus Nug Txog Tsev Neeg Keeb Kwm Yav Dhau Los Kev Mob Nkeeg / Caj Ces DCF-F-CFS0149-E-H Hmong PDF
Birth Parent Cov Lus Nug Txog Tsev Neeg Keeb Kwm Yav Dhau Los Kev Mob Nkeeg / Caj Ces – Qhia Paub Txog Thaum Cev Xeeb Muaj thiab Yug Tus Me Nyuam DCF-F-CFS0149A-E-H Hmong PDF
Birth Parent Cuestionario Sobre Antecedentes Familiares Medicos / Geneticos DCF-F-CFS0149-E-S Spanish PDF
Birth Parent Cuestionario sobre Antecedentes Familiares Medicos / Geneticos - Informacion sobre el Embarazo y Alumbrramiento DCF-F-CFS0149A-E-S Spanish PDF
Court Court Report for Centralized Birth Record DCF-F-CFS0134 English PDF
Court Court Report for Centralized Birth Record DCF-F-CFS0134 English Word