Adopted person

Instructions for requesting information about your adoption and birth parents. As an adopted person, when you turn 20 you have a legal right to this information.

Man in front of mural

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 Maehe 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 pātai or concerns you have, and arrange for you to receive the certificate.

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

If you were adopted after 1 Maehe 1986 and are now aged at least 20, you can either

  • ask to receive your original birth certificate from either the Ministry Adoption Service or an independent counsellor, or
  • ask to receive it directly to yourself. You do not have to see a counsellor if you do not wish to do so. 

Seeing a counsellor may provide an opportunity to discuss what the information on your birth certificate means, and how to go about searching for and contacting the birth parent(s) named on your birth certificate.

Apply for your original birth certificate on


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 Maehe 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:

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

Information held by us

We may hold information on the Ministry record about your adoption that was recorded at the time of your birth and adoption placement. Adopted people and others involved in an adoption are entitled to information from the Ministry’s record that is personal to them under the Privacy Act. 

This means you are entitled to receive the non-identifying information about your birth parents and adoption which was recorded at the time of your adoption placement. 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 make an enquiry online 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 Aotearoa New Zealand or overseas so that the relevant Adoption Service team can respond to your enquiry.

Make an enquiry using our online form

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 pātai about the information and we encourage you to kōrero with an adoption social worker about these – we’ll help and support you where we can.

The birth father’s name

Your birth father’s name may not be recorded on your original birth certificate. However, it may be recorded on the Ministry’s adoption record and / or in the Court adoption record. Adopted adults do not have an automatic entitlement to the name of their birth father when it is not recorded on their original birth certificate.

If the birth father has died, the adopted person can be given his recorded name and details.

The Adoption Service social worker can provide advice on how to seek access to the Court adoption record. Access is determined by a family court judge. 

Under some circumstances, the Adoption Service may be able to trace and approach a birth father to ascertain his view about the sharing of his name and details with the adopted person. 

Published: March 27, 2017 · Updated: April 9, 2024