Finding your birth family

People involved in an adoption may feel more complete when they know about their origins and their birth family.  This is often true of both adopted people and their birth parents.

Your rights

By law, you have the right to information about your adoption when you turn 20.

We're here if you'd like information about your birth family.  Please feel free to get in touch with our Adoption Services team.

Finding your birthparents

Here are the ways to get information you need to find your birthparents:

1. Getting your original birth certificate

To learn how to get a copy of your original birth certificate (which may have the names of one or both parents), visit the Registrar-General's website.

If details of one or both of your birth parents are on the original birth certificate, the Registrar-General will send you a list of counsellors. You can appoint Child, Youth and Family as your counselling agency or you can chose an independent counsellor from the list.

  • The Registrar-General will send your birth certificate to your counsellor.
  • The counsellor you have chosen will then contact you to let you know they've received it, and arrange for you to have it.
  • Then you and your counsellor can talk about what you'd like to do next. 

2. Getting information from Child, Youth and Family records

If you want to know whether Child, Youth and Family holds any information about your adoption:

  • call or write to your nearest Adoption Services office
  • include a copy of your original birth certificate
  • when we receive it, we will obtain the adoption records and give you details recorded at the time of your placement.

You may have questions relating to the information, please talk with a social worker about those questions - we will help where we can.

3. Contacting you birth parents

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

You can talk to your social worker for help with searching for them and thinking through how you'd like to approach them.

You may choose to contact your birthparents yourself, or ask someone to mediate.

If you are an adopted adult living overseas

If you are an adopted adult living overseas, the process is the same but you are not required to go through a counsellor. Your birth certificate will be sent to you on request, along with Child, Youth and Family's contact details.

Vetoes on information

A birth certificate with a veto

Sometimes birth certificates don't have parents' names on them.  This is either because they weren't recorded, or the birth parents have placed a veto.  If there is a veto in place the birth certificate will be sent to you directly.

If there is a veto on your birth certificate, you may talk to a Child, Youth and Family adoption social worker.  You can ask if there is a letter of explanation about the veto, or if any other information is available. 

If you don't want your birth parents to have your name

If you're at least 19 years old, you can place a veto on your birth certificate.
Placing a veto means that your birthparents can't get information from your birth certificate. 

It may help to talk with friends, family and your counsellor if you're thinking about placing a veto.  A veto lasts for 10 years, but you can change your mind and write to the Registrar-General to remove it at any time. 

If you decide to place a veto, please consider leaving a letter of explanation with Child, Youth and Family. It may help your birthparents to understand your reasons behind the veto.

If you do decide to go ahead with the veto, write to the Registrar-General with your:

  • veto request
  • full adopted name
  • date of birth.

Their mailing address is:

The Registrar-General
PO Box 10526
The Terrace
Wellington 6143

For more information on vetoes, please visit the Registrar-General page on vetoes.

Finding your birth child

If you'd like to find out about your birth child, contact us and we'll talk you through the process. 

When you write to us please include:

  • full name (when the child was born)
  • child's birth date
  • child's birth place
  • child's birth name.

If you don't have all this information, write down what you can remember and contact us.

If your birth child is younger than 20

If your birth child is younger than 20, or they've asked to keep their information private, you may not be able to get information on them.  If this is the case, we'll talk you through it.

We will check with the Registrar-General to see if the there is a veto on the registration to stop the name being given to you.

If there is a veto, we will tell you and check to see if a letter of explanation for the veto has been left for you.
If there is no veto, we will tell you. We will then try to find the adopted person to see if they wish their name and address to be given to you.

If you don't want your name to be released

If you are a birth parent and you don't wish to have identifying information about yourself released, and if your child was adopted before 1 March 1986, you can ask the Registrar-General not to give out your name on the original birth certificate.

However, if your child was adopted after 1 March 1986, you have no right to place a veto.

To place a veto write to:

The Registrar-General
PO Box 10526
The Terrace
Wellington 6143

Include these details:

  • Name under which you registered the child.
  • Date and place of the child's birth.
  • Full name you used at that time.

If you are a birth father

If you are the birth father, you have the same rights as the birth mother, if you were registered as the child's father at the time of the child's birth.

If you weren't, but you now wish to have your name entered on the birth certificate, you should apply to the Registrar-General.

If your name is in Child, Youth and Family's records as the father, you may apply to receive identifying information.