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Access to Adoption Records

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On September 27, 1999 the Supreme Court of Tennessee at Nashville issued an opinion in the case of PROMISE DOE, ET AL., VS. DONALD SUNQUIST, ET. AL and upheld a new adoption records law that was to take effect July 1, 1996. After more than three years of litigation, the Supreme Court concluded that the disclosure of adoption records created on or after March 16, 1951 does not impair the vested rights or violate the right to privacy under the Tennessee constitution. This ruling by the Supreme Court allows the Department of Children’s Services to begin processing requests for services to persons eligible to have access to their adoption records.

The department is able to act under provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated §36-1-12 ( c ) to provide access to adoption records, sealed adoption records, sealed records, post adoption records, or records from any other information source that were created on or after March 16, 1951.

Adoption records may be released pursuant to court order as provided in Tennessee Code §36-1-138. If any adoption was attempted or occurred before March 16, 1951, the law affecting services available to eligible persons was effective July 1, 1995.

Adoption records for eligible persons are available to those surrendered for the purpose of adoption; for adoptions which were filed and dismissed or not completed, and the record was closed or sealed prior to March 16, 1951; and for any records maintained at any time by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

The adoption record includes sealed adoption records, post-adoption records, court records, adoption agency and Department of Health Vital records.

For more information, call the office of Post Adoption Services at 615-532-5637.

Access to Adoption Records

FOR RULES AND FORMS ON THE RELEASE OF NON-IDENTIFYING INFORMATION FROM RECORDS OF ADOPTIONS CLICK HERE.

FOR COMPLETE RULES AND FORMS GOVERNING ACCESS TO ADOPTION RECORDS FOR ADOPTIONS FINALIZED ON AND AFTER MARCH 16, 1951 CLICK HERE.

For questions about adopting Tennessee children,
please contact DCS at 1-877-DCSKids (327-5437).