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Who is Eligible

Persons Eligible to Receive Adoption Records: 

  • Adult individuals, age 21 or older, surrendered for the purpose of adoption.
  • An adopted individual’s birth, adoptive, step- or legal parent older than 21-years of age.
  • An adopted individual’s birth or adoptive siblings, age 21 and older.
  • An adopted individual’s lineal descendants or lineal ancestors, age 21 and older.

Note: The adopted person must consent to the release of any identifying information contained in the sealed record. If the adopted person is deceased, they cannot give consent.

Individuals Who Cannot Receive Access to Adoption Records Include:

  • A parent or pre-adoptive guardian whose rights were involuntarily terminated for cause.
  • A sibling, lineal ancestor, spouse or legal representative of the person whose rights were involuntarily terminated for cause.
  • A person guilty of a crime of violence or neglect against the adopted person.
  • Alleged parent or relatives. An alleged parent is a person who was named, or described in the sealed record, as a parent of the adopted person but the record does not show this person on any legal documents, i.e. birth certificate, court order, unqualified acknowledgement of parenthood, surrender of parental rights, etc.

If you were adopted before 1951 or through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society:

The laws governing access to the records are different if you were adopted before 1951, but the process of access is virtually the same. Learn more about access to records if you were adopted before 1951 or through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

An adoption record can include:

  • Sealed Adoption Records
  • Post-Adoption Records
  • Court Records
  • Adoption Agency Records
  • An Order of Termination of Parental Rights
  • Records from the Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics.

Consent is required from the adoptee.  If you are a relative of the adoptee, we will search for and attempt to gain consent.   While most cases only require consent from the adoptee, in cases where there is a record of rape or incest the birth mother must also consent to the release of the sealed record, even to the adoptee.  We will search for and contact the birth mother in these cases to attempt to gain consent.  If the adoptee is deceased or other persons requiring consent are deceased, we will not be able to move forward with your request.