Re: United States Adoption Resources #general

Barbara Niederhoff <iamthewind@...>

Last night, my friend's husband revealed that his
father, b. 1915 d. 1980, had been adopted shortly
after birth. The grandparents, residing in NYC
[possibly Queens] could not afford this [2nd] child.
There was an alleged older brother. This [2nd] child
was adopted by a family in West Virginia.
Weren't birth certificates altered to show the adopted
parents as the "real" parents?
Not in 1915. Most birth certificates and adoption records in the US
remained unsealed and unchanged until the 1930s and 1940s. New York and
West Virginia did not seal records until that time.

Somehow this NYC birth certificate shows the natural
parents names, which were very common Jewish names.
I think the biggest hurdle will be these common names. But he does have
them, and I would echo your own advice to continue the research as any
other genealogist would. City directories and censuses are excellent
starting points and easily available through public archives and LDS
Family History Centers. I'd be especially interested in the 1915 NY
State Census, because both parents and the alleged older brother ought to
be listed.

In addition, adoption records (if there were any) *should* be available,
since they would not have been sealed and should not have been affected
by subsequent laws. But I have no expertise on where to look for them;
perhaps someone else can help with that. If found, the birth parents'
1915 address *may* be there, which could be helpful if census & other
sources show more than one couple with the same names.

If all parties are deceased, are the records still
This doesn't apply to your friend's husband, since the 1915 records
shouldn't have been sealed in the first place. However, for people whose
records were indeed sealed, death has no effect on availability. I am
not aware of any state in which sealed adoption records would
automatically be unsealed if proof of the parties' deaths were provided.
In theory, it's possible that a court order could be obtained.

Barbara Niederhoff
Centennial CO

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