A major change is coming to birth records kept in Minnesota.
Starting next summer, people who put children born in Minnesota up for adoption — in the past, and in the future — won’t be able to keep their names private.
That’s a change, resulting from a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year. Until now, birth parents have been able to veto access to original Minnesota birth records.
But starting July 1, 2024, original birth records will be open to adoptees 18 or older who were born in Minnesota — or, in cases where someone who was adopted has died, to their immediate families.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
Ahead of that, the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records is offering a form that will be appended to original birth records, where birth parents can indicate if they would like to be contacted; if they’d prefer to be contacted only through an intermediary; or if they prefer not to be contacted.
They also can include a short message.
“The space, you know, is limited. It’s not wide open. So we’re not expecting to get a photo album or any type of thesis,” said State Registrar Molly Crawford. “But it does allow the birth parent to share information to make it easy for the adopted person to contact them, or or maybe provide something else in that space.”
Crawford said that the indicated contact preference will not be binding, and adopted persons will be able to get a copy of an original birth certificate with the name of a birth parent who does not want to be contacted.
Original birth records show the names of birth parents, the adopted person’s name at birth and the place of birth, along with some additional details.
“It’s kind of a preparation, this period between now and July 1 of next year, for birth parents to indicate this preference,” she said. “And it gives them time to consider that these records will be available to adopted persons next year, which is different from what has been the case in Minnesota.”
Crawford reiterated that the policy change affects only children born in Minnesota. And birth parents still won’t have access to an adopted person’s current birth record.
She said the state sees several thousand adoptions a year — and with state records going back more than a century, that means there are a large number of original birth records that will become unsealed next year.
“Birth parents may not expect this to happen. I think it’s important that they they learn that this legislation will take effect, opening records next year. It’s important that they have an opportunity to indicate their preference, if they wish,” Crawford said.
Find more information on the Minnesota Department of Health website.