Adoption Record Searches in Wisconsin




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Wisconsin Adoption Searches



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Adoption Records Search in Wisconsin

Individuals who have been adopted may be searching for more than the names of their birth parents.  They may also be looking for necessary medical information, social or background information regarding their ancestry, or medical information that may be of importance later. 

For these reasons, many states have set up adoption record searches for adoptees.  Adoption records are made accessible to individuals who have been adopted in order for them to obtain information about themselves and their birth relatives.

State laws specify the conditions of all searches for adoption records.  The birth parents have the right, according to state law, to consent to the release of identifying information or to refuse the release of identifying information.  This information is included as a notarized statement or affidavit.

Typically, adoption records are accessible to individuals whose parents have waived their rights or to adopted individuals who have reached adulthood.  In Wisconsin, the adoption record search is available to adult adoptees, adoptees whose birth parents have terminated their parental rights when the adoptee was a minor, adoptive parents, and birth parents.

Wisconsin law has established several procedures that must be followed regarding adoptions within their jurisdiction.  The Wisconsin State Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) is responsible to oversee these procedures. 

In particular, all medical and genetic information on the birth parents and relatives must be reported by the circuit court to the State Department of Health and Family Services when parental rights have been terminated.  The DHFS is also responsible for creating a permanent birth record file on all adoptees within their jurisdiction. 

Additionally, adoptive parents in Wisconsin have the right to request non-identifying information on medical, genetic, and social family history from existing records, as well as requesting updated information.  The law also allows a petition to be filed requesting the release of information that is not available under the provisions of the search program that has been set in place.

Adoption records may include information on the following:

  • Non-identifying information on the social history
  • Medical and genetic information on the birth parents and members of the biological family this may include information on routine health issues and any known hereditary or degenerative diseases
  • A copy of the impounded birth certificate or the birth certificate on record prior to the time of the adoption
  • Most recent names and addresses of the birth parents held in the Department of Health and Family Services files

In order to obtain the adoption records in Wisconsin, the individual who is making the request needs to complete an adoption search request application that can be obtained at the following link:

Additionally, a written request for an application can be sent to the following address:

Adoption Records Search Program

P. O. Box 8916

Madison, WI 53708-8916

A phone request for a copy of an application can be made at the following number: 608-266-7163.  A fax request for a copy of an application can be sent to the following number: 608-264-5144.  A request for a copy of an application can be sent to the following email address:

In addition to including your name and contact information when you make your request for the application, it is necessary to include your status: adult adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents.

The application requires the following information:

  • The applicant’s current name, address, telephone contact number, and email address.
  • The best way to contact the applicant
  • Identification as one of the following: adult adoptee, adult who was never adopted but whose birth parents terminated their parental rights, adoptive parent, guardian of an adopted person, offspring of the adopted individual, or a social worker assigned to the adopted individual.
  • The specification as to whether the applicant wants the search forwarded to a private adoption agency if one was involved.
  • A notarized confirmation of identity must be included using the provided form.
  • Any of the following information that is known: the adoptive name, birth date, birth place, adoptive parents name, the adoption agency name and address, the county of adoption, the birth parents’ names, and the type of records requested.

A non-refundable fee must be included with the application in the form of a money order or check made payable to the Department of Health and Family Services.  This fee covers the cost of verifying the applicant’s identity, locating the records, and searching for updated information if it is not currently on file.  The search for updated information may require a search for the birth parents, which will also include an additional hourly charge. 

An additional hourly fee is assessed for copying the records along with deleting material, proofreading, and recopying the record.  Filling out the section on the application pertaining to a fee reduction may also be included.  The application has a separate section for adult adoptees or individuals whose birth parents terminated their rights and other requestors.  The differences on the form are minor.

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