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(a) After the petition is filed and prior to the entry of the final decree, the records in adoption proceedings shall be open to inspection only by the petitioner or his or her attorney, the investigator appointed under Section 26-10A-19, any attorney appointed for the adoptee under Section 26-10A-22, and any attorney retained by or appointed to represent the adoptee. Such records shall be open to other persons only upon order of court for good cause shown.
(b) All hearings in adoption proceedings shall be confidential and shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than interested parties and their counsel, except with leave of court.
(c) After the final decree of adoption has been entered, all papers, pleadings, and other documents pertaining to the adoption shall be sealed, kept as a permanent record of the court, and withheld from inspection except as otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12. No person shall have access to such records except upon order of the court in which the decree of adoption was entered for good cause shown except as provided in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12.
(d) When the court issues the adoption order, all licensed agencies or individuals shall send a sealed information summary sheet and the non-identifying information referred to in subsection (g) in a separate summary sheet to the State Department of Human Resources. The following information shall be included:
(1) Birthname and adoptive name;
(2) Date and place of birth of person adopted, except in the case of abandonment;
(3) Circumstances under which the child came to be placed for adoption;
(4) Physical and mental condition of the person adopted, insofar as this can be determined by the aid of competent medical authority;
(5) Name and last known address of natural parents, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, if known;
(6) Age of the natural parents at child's birth;
(7) Nationality, ethnic background, race, and religious preference of the natural parents;
(8) Educational level of the natural parents;
(9) Pre-adoptive brother/sister relationships;
(10) Whether the identity and location of the natural father is known or ascertainable.
(e) The State Department of Human Resources and the investigating agency's adoption records must be kept for a minimum term of 75 years. If a licensed child placing agency ceases to operate in Alabama, all adoption records of the agency, including those of the child, the natural family, and the adoptive family, shall be transferred to the Department of Human Resources.
(f) Except as otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, all files of the investigating office or agency appointed by the court under Section 26-10A-19 shall be confidential and shall be withheld from inspection except upon order of the court for good cause shown.
(g) Notwithstanding subsection (f) of this section, the State Department of Human Resources or the licensed investigating agency appointed by the court pursuant to Section 26-10A-19(b) and (c), shall furnish, upon request, to the petitioners, natural parents, or an adoptee 19 years of age or older, nonidentifying information which shall be limited to the following:
(1) Health and medical histories of the adoptee's natural parents;
(2) The health and medical history of the adoptee;
(3) The adoptee's general family background, including ancestral information, without name references or geographical designations;
(4) Physical descriptions;
(5) The length of time the adoptee was in the care and custody of one other than the petitioner; and
(6) Circumstances under which the child comes to be placed for adoption.
(h) Notwithstanding subsection (f), if either the natural mother or the natural or presumed father have given consent in writing under oath to disclosure of identifying information as defined in subsection (d) and which is not otherwise provided in this section and in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, the State Department of Human Resources or a licensed child placing agency shall release such identifying information.
(i) If the court finds that any person has a compelling need for nonidentifying information not otherwise available under subsection (e) of this section which only can be obtained through contact with the adoptee, the adoptee's parents, an alleged or presumed father of the adoptee, or the adoptee's adoptive parents, the court shall direct the agency or a mutually agreed upon intermediary, to furnish such information or to establish contact with the adoptee, the adoptee's natural parents, the alleged or presumed father of the adoptee, or the adoptive parents of the adoptee in order to obtain the information needed without disclosure of identifying information to or about the applicant. The information then shall be filed with the court and released to the applicant within the discretion of the court. However, the identity and whereabouts of the person or persons contacted shall remain confidential.
(j) Notwithstanding any subsection of this section to the contrary, when an adult adoptee reaches the age of 19, the adoptee may petition the court for the disclosure of identifying information as defined in subsection (d) and which is not otherwise provided for in this section or in subsection (c) of Section 22-9A-12, if a natural or presumed parent has not previously given consent under subsection (h). The court shall direct an intermediary to contact the natural parents to determine if the natural parents will consent to the release of identifying information. If the natural parents consent to the release of identifying information the court shall so direct. If the natural parents are deceased, cannot be found, or do not consent to the release of identifying information then the court shall weigh the interest and rights of all of the parties and determine if the identifying information should be released without the consent of the natural parents.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Alabama Code Title 26. Infants and Incompetents § 26-10A-31 - last updated January 01, 2019 | https://codes.findlaw.com/al/title-26-infants-and-incompetents/al-code-sect-26-10a-31/
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