When you turn 20, you have the legal right to information about your adoption and your birth parents.
Finding your birth parents
To get information about your birth parents, 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 choose 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.
Sometimes birth certificates don’t have any parents' names on them because the birth parents have placed a veto on 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 10 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:
Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 10526
Information held by us
We may hold information about your adoption that was recorded at the time of your birth and placement.
You are entitled to the non-identifying information about your birth parents and adoption. You can request this information through this website or by contacting 0508 FAMILY or your local office.
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.
Call or email us to request an application form. We’ll get our Adoption Service team closest to where you live to send this to you.
Please include your location in New Zealand or overseas so that the relevant Adoption Service team can respond to your enquiry.
Call (free phone): 0508 326 459
Once we receive your request, we’ll check any records we have and contact you about the information we can provide to 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.
Published: March 27, 2017 · Updated: July 6, 2020