When a baby is born, aside from various pictures taken by their parents, there is something else that signifies and symbolizes their delivery. Their birth certificate. The child’s basic biological and statistical information is written on the birth certificate and will be collected by the state government. The document is used to prove one’s identity which means it is an incredibly important document in a child’s life, similar to a Social Security card or a passport.

The process of obtaining a birth certificate is relatively simple for birth parents. For adoptive parents, however, there is a lot of paperwork involved. Let’s take a closer look at the important differences between the two certificates.

Great Things Come in Pairs

All children who are placed for adoption will obtain two birth certificates. One is the Original Birth Certificate (OBC) and the other will be the Amended Birth Certificate (ABC). The information below will help you understand the basic differences between the two.

The Original

The Original Birth Certificate is created at the birth of the child and details: their date of birth, time, location, etc. The birth parents will get to keep this document. The name of the child, if the birth mother chooses to give them one, will also be displayed on the OBC. For any birth mothers debating whether or not you should name your child or not, check out the article Naming Your Child: Where Their Story Begins.

Typically, if the birth takes place at a hospital, you will be given forms that the nurse will help fill out. Similarly, if you choose to give birth at home with a midwife, she will have the forms ready as well. A copy of the certificate will be placed in the secured state registrar.

The Amended

The Amended Birth Certificate is issued when all the adoption papers have been completed and finalized. Be aware that it might take up to a year for the new birth certificate to be issued. It will show all of the same basic information as the OBC, except it will have the adoptive parents’ names instead. The ABC will also display the new name of the child given by the adoptive parents if they respectfully choose not to keep the name given by the birth parents. This certificate is kept by the adoptive parents. A copy of the ABC will also be placed in public records instead of the OBC.

The Differences Between the Two

The biggest difference between the two birth certificates is the adoptee will only be allowed to view the Amended Birth Certificate. It will be used by the child for all purposes such as school enrollment, passport, licenses, etc. When it comes to cases of closed adoptions, the ABC will remain secured until the adoptee turns 18. The adoptee will not have access to the Original Birth Certificate as it will be sealed with all the other adoption papers by the court. This remains true even with cases of open adoptions.

Another difference is that the birth father can choose to not have his name on the OBC. It all depends on the circumstances and what the birth mother wishes. However, if a couple is choosing to adopt, both of their names must be present on the ABC. They will be listed as the legal parents.

Accessing the Original 

The process of sealing the birth certificate while amending the new one is done so that by looking at the document, it will be difficult for a third party to see that the child was adopted. Nearly all states will allow the adoptee to view their OBC under the condition that they have a court order. For the other states, the adoptee can usually gain access when they have acquired the consent of three parties: themselves, the birth parents, and their adoptive parents.

Court orders are given sparingly and only for the right reasons. Adoptees cannot justify their petition with wanting to meet their birth parents. Unfortunately, that is not a good enough reason and the judge will not approve the request. Judges will usually give approval in appropriate situations, including medical issues or if the birth parents have passed away. Being deceased means they will have less concern with privacy as they would when alive.

It is best for the adoptee to check with the county clerk of their birth county.

Modern Practices

The practice of telling adoptees that they are adopted has grown more popular and accepted as time progresses. This means that access to their Original Birth Certificate might be easier than it has in past decades if the birth parents are in the child’s life.

In fact, it has been encouraged for parents to be open and candid about their child’s adoption for the sake of their health. Many children who have been separated by the birth mother will experience a lack of attachment towards their new parents. One solution is to tackle the problem and not run away from it. If you need more information on attachment issues your child might have, check out the article Acknowledge Attachment Issues for Your Child.

Knowledge is Key

Although you will always be your child’s parents, there is no preventing questions about their birth parents. But, by equipping yourself with the correct information regarding the differences between the two birth certificates, you can provide them with understanding. In general, there is no harm for you to have more information. Your child will appreciate your support, and you will be more prepared as their parents.

Adoption Choices of New York

For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.

About the Author

Lisa TruongLisa Truong is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Denver. She is minoring in writing and Chemistry. She has been commended by professors for her news stories as well as creative writing.

During her freshman year, her essay “See Ya on the Other Side” was displayed at a writing exhibition sponsored by the University of Denver. That essay later went on to be published in Many Voices One DU, a book also sponsored by the university.

Lisa frequently volunteers to be a leader at the Daniels School of Business for their quarterly Ethics Boot Camp where students learn about the importance of character in business. In her free time, Lisa enjoys watching animated movies with her mother, listening to music, going for bike rides, and eating breakfast food.




“Amending a Birth Certificate After Adoption.” Justia. Accessed September 8, 2019. https://www.justia.com/family/adoptions/adoption-procedures/amending-birth-certificate/.

“How Birth Certificates Work.” Fatherly, January 30, 2019. https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/birth-certificates-questions-new-parents/.

Riben, Mirah. “Adopted Child Doe and Amended Birth Certificates.” HuffPost. HuffPost, December 7, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/adopted-child-doe-and-ame_b_6527546.

US Legal, Inc. “Amended Birth Certificate Law and Legal Definition.” Amended Birth Certificate Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc. Accessed September 8, 2019. https://definitions.uslegal.com/a/amended-birth-certificate/.

“What Adoptive Parents Need to Know About Birth Certificates.” Fatherly, August 19, 2019. https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/what-adoptive-parents-need-to-know-about-birth-certificates/.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!