American Adoption Congress: Educating, Empowering, Evolving Donate

Legislative Terminology Guide

Amended Birth Certificate

A new birth certificate, issued after an adoption is finalized, that contains the names of the adoptive parents as the parents. In some places other information may have be altered in the past, such as place of birth; or information may be omitted, such as the name of the hospital or the time of the birth.

"Clean" Bill

Legislation that gives all adult adoptees access to the original birth certificate without restrictions or limitations. In clean bill legislation, the process by which an adoptee gets an original birth certificate (OBC) is the same as it is for a non-adopted person.

Confidential Intermediary
Individuals or agencies designated by the state to act as intermediaries  between adult adoptees and birth parents and who are given access to confidential information about the birth parents for that purpose.
Contact Preference Form
Some states have passed access bills which include a contact preference provision.  If a birth parent fills out the contact preference form, he or she has three options:
  • I want to be contacted;
  • I want to be contacted through an intermediary;
  • I do not want to be contacted. 
No matter which option a birth parent selects, the adoptee gets the original birth certificate, together with a copy of the contact preference.
In some states, if the "no contact" option is selected, the birth parent must supply updated medical information.
Contact Veto
A provision in some jurisdictions that allows a birth parent or other birth relative to choose to prohibit contact from an adoptee after the OBC is released.  The birth relative need not supply any reason.  In some jurisdictions, an adoptee who violates the prohibition may be punished civilly or criminally.  The effect is similar to a restraining order.
Disclosure Veto
In some states, the law allows one or both birth parents to file a document preventing the release of the OBC to the adult adoptee.  The American Adoption Congress does not prefer establishing statutory provisions that include the option to use a disclosure veto. 
Mutual Consent Registry
Registries are mechanisms for matching two or more people who have been separated by adoption. They are also called "passive" registries because, no matter what entity operates them, they depend on the action of two separate registrants to trigger a "match."  A match typically does not result in the release of the OBC.
Original Birth Certificate (OBC)
The birth certificate issued at the time of birth that identifies the place, date, and time of birth and, at a minimum, the name of the birth mother. Upon the finalization of an adoption, the original birth certificate (OBC)  is officially sealed, meaning that it is not accessible to adoptees or their parents without a court order unless laws have been changed in that jurisdiction to allow unrestricted access.
Open Records
The phrase "open records" is often a misnomer for adult adoptees' access to their own birth records.  "Open records" suggests public access to adoption records, which no one advocates.  It also suggests that all agency and court records are available for inspection and/or access.
Prospective Bill
A piece of legislation that creates a statutory change from the effective date of the bill forward in time. 
Retrospective Bill  
A piece of legislation that generally repeals and reenacts all or part of a past statute.  Several states have passed retrospective legislation related to adoption records access.