Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

Adoption Records Search Program

The Adoption Record Search Program helps adopted persons get information about themselves and their birth relatives. Persons whose birth parents have terminated their parental rights* in Wisconsin can also get information about themselves and their birth relatives.

This information includes:

  • Non-identifying social history information

  • Medical and genetic information on birth parents and members of their families This includes routine health information and any known hereditary or degenerative disease

  • Most recent names and address of birth parents in Department of Children and Family files

  • A copy of the impounded birth certificate (the birth certificate on record before the time of adoption)

The Adoptions Records Search Program is available to:

  • Adult adoptees
  • Offspring of adult adoptees
  • Adoptees whose birth parent(s) terminated parental rights when they were minors
  • Adoptive parents
  • Birth parents

What is the law?

Wisconsin's Adoption Record Search law is set forth in State Statutes Sections 48.432 and 48.433. The law specifies conditions and protections under which a search may be conducted. The law:

  • Gives birth parents the right to refuse to allow the release of identifying information

  • Allows the release of deceased birth parent identity if it does not breach the confidentiality of another  legally identified birth parent

  • Establishes procedures for adoption searches

  • Places responsibility for administration of the law with the State Department of Children and Families (DCF)

  • Requires circuit courts to report medical and genetic information on both birth parents and relatives to DCF at the time parental rights are terminated in Wisconsin

  • Requires the Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish a permanent centralized birth record file on all adoptions completed in Wisconsin

  • Allows adoptive parents to request existing or updated records on non-identifying medical, genetic, and social history information on birth parents

  • Allows persons to petition a circuit court for an order requiring release of information not available under provisions of the search program

How does the law affect adoptees?

When an adoptee is 18 years old, he or she can request:

  • Medical and genetic information about his/her birth relatives

  • Non-identifying social history information about his/her birth relatives

  • A search for birth parent(s) identity and location and a copy of his/her impounded birth certificate

A notarized affidavit of consent from the birth parent(s) is required to release information

How does the law affect birth parent(s)?

Birth parents(s) requirements and rights:

Birth parent(s) are required to provide medical and genetic information to the court at the time parental rights are terminated.

Birth parent(s) may file updated medical or genetic information with the Department of Children and Families at any time.

Each birth parent(s) may file an affidavit with the Department of Children and Families:

  • This affidavit consents to the release of his or her identity and location and the impounded birth certificate. The information can be released upon request to the adoptee when he/she reaches age 18

  • The affidavit must be notarized

  • The affidavit may be filed at the time parental rights are terminated, or any time afterwards

  • Birth parents have the right to revoke the affidavit (withdraw their approval) at any time

  • If a birth parent is known to be deceased their identity may be released if it does not breach the confidentiality of another legally identified birth parent

Birth parents(s) may request the Adoption Search Program to provide important medical and genetic information to their birth children. A written statement from a licensed medical provider must be with each request.

 

The Adoption Search Program may attempt to contact the birth parent(s) to:

Request an affidavit of consent and, or request updated family health history information.

  • An affidavit is required to release their identity

  • Updated family health history is required upon request and is provided to the requestor

Notify the birth parents(s) that an adoptee has developed a genetically transferable disease or condition

  • This is done when the Department of Children and Families receives written notification from a licensed medical provider.

How does the law affect adoptive parent(s)

The Adoption Search Program may attempt to contact the adoptive parent(s) of a minor adoptee to:

  • Notify the adoptive parents(s) that the adoptee's birth parent(s) or birth sibling(s) developed a genetically transferable disease or condition.

  • This notification is done when the Department of Children and Families receives written notification from a licensed medical provider.

Adoptive parents may request medical, genetic, and non-identifying social history information about their adoptee's birth relatives.

How does the law affect siblings?

The current law does not provide for siblings to request searches for each other

How does the law affect other persons?

Other persons who may also receive medical and genetic information include:

  • The guardian or legal custodian of an adopted person

  • The offspring of an adopted person if he or she is at least 18 years old

  • An agency or social worker assigned to provide services to the adopted person

Adults who were not legally adopted as children and whose birth parent(s) terminated parental rights may request:

  • Medical and genetic information

  • Non-identifying social history information

  • Birth parent(s) identity and location

A notarized affidavit of consent from the birth parent(s) is required to release information

How do I get more information or request an application packet?

  • Email:  dcfadoptionsearch@wisconsin.gov
  • Call (608) 266-7163
  • Download an application and mail it or fax it to:
    • Mail: Adoption Records Search Program

      P.O. Box 8916
      Madison, WI 53703-8916

    • Fax: (608) 261-5994

Brochures with information about the Adoption Records Search Program are available:

Adoption Search Forms

In the table below are the available forms for adoption search processes.  Click on the arrows next to any of the column headings to sort by that data type. There is also a text search option.

Form Name Form Number Language Form Type
Adoption Search Application DCF-F-CFS0144-E English Word
Adoptee Affidavit DCF-F-5096-E English Word
Affidavit - A birth parent's consent to allow contact information to be given to their adult adopted child DCF-F-CFS0142 English PDF
Affidavit - A birth parent's consent to allow contact information to be given to their adult adopted child DCF-F-CFS0142-E English Word
Affidavit DCF-F-CFS0142-E-H Hmong PDF
Declarcion DCF-F-CFS0142-E-S Spanish PDF
Family History Questionnaire Medical/Genetic DCF-F-CFS0149-E English Word
Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic DCF-F-CFS0149-E English PDF
Family History Questionnaire Medical/Genetic DCF-F-CFS0149-E-H Hmong PDF
Cuestionario Sobre Antecedentes Familiares Medicos/Geneticos DCF-F-CFS0149-E-S Spanish PDF
Family History Questionnaire Medical / Genetic - Pregnancy and Delivery Information DCF-F-CFS0149A English PDF
Family History Questionnaire Medical/Genetic - Pregnancy and Delivery Information DCF-F-CFS0149A-E English Word
Family History Questionnaire Medical/Genetic - Pregnancy and Delivery Information DCF-F-CFS0149A-E-H Hmong PDF
Cuestionario sobre Antecedentes Familiares Medicos/Geneticos - Informacion sobre el Embarazo y Alumbrramiento DCF-F-CFS0149A-E-S Spanish PDF
Birth Parent Request for Adoptee's Identity DCF-F-5097-E English Word
Face Sheet - Child Record DCF-F-CFS0835-E English Word
Face Sheet - Child Record DCF-F-CFS0835-E English PDF
Court Report for Centralized Birth Record DCF-F-CFS0134 English Word
Court Report for Centralized Birth Record DCF-F-CFS0134 English PDF