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Finding Adoption Records from the 1920s
December 29, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

My grandmother was adopted in Roseau, MN, in April of 1921 at the age of 6 months. On October 13, 1920, she was born, and given into the care of the Lutheran Children's Home Society of Minneapolis. I've found the new name of this organization, and I have the proper forms to fill out to find her original birth certificate. I still worry, however, that this won't go too far.

My grandmother died in February of this year, so she can't take on this search by herself. About 15 years ago, she took a trip to Norway, and the only thing the state gave her for her passport was her "revised" birth certificate.

I believe, after speaking with the agency that holds her records, that the only way I'm going to get to her original birth certificate is via a court order from a judge in Roseau County. My questions are thus:

1) Can I reasonably take on this task without legal representation?

2) Are the fees for this sort of thing ridiculous, or should I expect to be charged standard filing fees for court activities?

3) What should be my expectations for approval? I don't imagine that the birth parents are still around to contest sharing the records for an 89 year old adoption. Would the judge deny it for any other reason? My basic purpose here is genealogical (and general curiosity, really).

I'd rather try to do this now than wait the 11 years until it becomes non-private (Minnesota law says an adoption is private for 100 years).
posted by thanotopsis to Law & Government (4 answers total)
 
It seems to me that this is a question a lawyer can answer, not Metafilter.

That said, you say the law in Minnesota keeps adoption records secret for 100 years and that 100 years have not yet passed. Why, then, do you think you can get around this law?
posted by dfriedman at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2009


Minnesota allows for a judge to issue a court order to allow access to the records by approved parties. The documentation I've read says that it can normally be the adoptee or descendants of the adoptee.

I'm looking for folks that may have experience in the system, acquiring this sort of data.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:21 AM on December 29, 2009


Many people have been able to "get around that law".

Is there any conceivable medical reason that you would need the information? I have a friend who was previously denied further info about her adoption (in MN, in the 60s) until she was diagnosed with a chronic disease. Somehow that gave her a valid reason to find out her birth mother's information, and they were able to meet after exchanging letters. I'm sorry I don't know more about her case, like if a judge was involved or if the organization made the decision on it's own. So, if anyone in your family has a medical reason for needing to know more about their ancestors, that may lend weight to your case.

As for the fees, I'd call the court administrator's office and ask. Good Luck
posted by soelo at 11:43 AM on December 29, 2009


The other thing to consider is whether there's a "real" birth certificate at all. Unless your grandmother was born in a hospital (which wasn't *that* common in 1920), it's possible that the birth was recorded in a Dr's notebook, but not certified. This would be even more likely if she wasn't born in the city. My mother's mother was born in Pueblo, Co. and was adopted; the search for her birth certificate revealed that there likely wasn't one to begin with, for all the reasons noted above.
posted by dbmcd at 12:10 PM on December 29, 2009


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