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Birth Records Information

A document used to record the birth of a child is a vital record known as a birth certificate. In the US, the term “birth certificate” refers to either the original document or to a certification of the original. Throughout the US, the record keeping of vital records such as birth records is left to the states because the power to keep such records is not assigned by the Constitution under the Tenth Amendment to the federal government. However, the Fourteenth Amendment defines American citizenship upon birth in the United States, so it necessary for the states and federal government to work together in regards to collecting and maintaining birth records. The US National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for use by the individual states to document births. However, the use of these forms is not required, and so the appearance and information found in birth records across the US is not uniform. The forms are completed by an attendant of the birth or a hospital administrator, then they are forwarded to a local or state registrar who then stores the record and issues certified copies when requested.

In the US and Canada, when a person is legally adopted, the government seals the original birth certificate, and will then issue a replacement birth certificate noting the information of the adoptive family. In this case, the adoptee is not granted access to their own original birth certificate by request. The law varies by state or province. Oregon, for example, allows adoptees unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates upon request. In some states, the certificate can become available upon explicit permission of the biological parents.

The internet has become and will continue to be a valuable tool in locating birth records. In an increasing number of cases, accessing documents has become much less of a headache due to the resources available online. While it’s possible to do all of this work on your own without subscribing to a public database service, it will likely save you a lot of time and headaches by paying a small membership fee.

More Public Record Resources

  • Defense.gov   ... Department of Defense website. US military records and general information.
  • Archives.gov ... USA national public records archives and registry. State public records & historical information.
  • USA.gov ... Government public information by topic. Indexed public records and resources.
  • Wikipedia.org ... Publicly available  Records & Information. Freedom of information act.

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