Adoption

Finding your birth family

If you were part of an adoption that took place before 1985, it may be possible to find information about your birth parent or child.

 We can help you with this process. 

finding birth family young adult

Finding your birth parents

When you turn 20, you have the legal right to information about your adoption and your birth parents. To get this, you need to begin by requesting a copy of your pre-adoption birth certificate. 

Your original birth certificate

When you were born, your birth certificate included the name of your biological mother, and perhaps your father. When you were adopted, a new certificate was issued with your adoptive parents' names. You can apply to Births, Deaths and Marriages to get a copy of your pre-adoption birth certificate by completing an application form.

If your adoption took place before 1 March 1986, you’ll receive your original birth certificate via a counsellor.

  • First you’ll be sent a list of counsellors. You can appoint us as your counselling agency or you can chose an independent counsellor from the list.
  • Births Deaths and Marriages will send your birth certificate to your counsellor.
  • The counsellor will contact you and discuss any questions or concerns you have, and arrange for you to receive the certificate.

If you’re living overseas and were adopted before 1 March 1986, you’ll be sent your birth certificate directly. 

Vetoes

Sometimes birth certificates don’t have any parent’s names on them because the birth parents have placed a veto in their information. Your birth parents only had the right to do this if your adoption took place before 1 March 1986. A veto has to be renewed every ten years and can be lifted at any time.

If there is a veto in place, your birth certificate will be sent to you directly, but it won’t include your birth parents’ names. You can talk to one of our adoption social workers about the veto and ask if there is a letter of explanation, or if any other information is available.

As an adopted person, once you turn 19, you have the right to place a veto on your own information. This means your birth parents won’t be able to access information about you.

To place a veto, send your request to:

The Registrar-General
Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 10526 
The Terrace
Wellington 6143

finding birth family young adults

Information held by us

We may hold information about your adoption such as a letter written by your birth parent or some personal details about them such as hair or eye colour, or their education. To find out what records we have, you’ll need to complete a brief form and send it to us with a copy of your original birth certificate.

Call us to request a Section 9 form. We’ll get our adoption services closest to where you live to send this to you. 

Call 0508 326 459

Once we receive the form, we’ll check any records we have and contact you.

You may have questions about the information and we encourage you to talk with an adoption social worker about these — we’ll help and support you where we can.

Contacting your birth parents

Once you have your original birth certificate, you may wish to contact your birth parents.

Your adoption social worker will be able to help you search for them, and to think through how you'd like to approach them. You’ll be encouraged to contact your birth parents yourself, rather than go through a friend or relative.