LIHU’E — November is Adoption Awareness Month, and the O‘ahu-based Adoption Circle of Hawai‘i nonprofit wants to support Kaua‘i individuals and families seeking adoption records.
Adoption Circle of Hawai‘i is staffed entirely by volunteers who have gone through the adoption process themselves as adoptees, birth parents or adoptive parents.
According to Communications and Community Relations Director at the Hawai‘i State Judiciary Jan Kagehiro, the reasons for requesting adoption records vary by individual. For example, some individuals seeking admission to Kamehameha schools or applying for Hawaiian Home Lands need proof of Hawaiian lineage. Some are seeking family medical histories.
For some, seeking records is more personal.
Adoption Circle of Hawai‘i volunteer Katalina McGlone knows first-hand what it is like to want to know more information about her birth family.
“There’s just a need within us to know where we fit historically, especially, who’s your mom and dad. It’s a pretty strong desire inside,” McGlone said.
McGlone was 39 before ever seeing her birth certificate, partly because she did not know that the information was available to her. The Hawai‘i resident was adopted in Ohio and laws regarding adoption records vary from state to state. Some states still have limited access or even sealed adoption records including Arizona, California and Florida.
Thanks to 2016 law HB2082 HD1 SD1, seeking adoption records in Hawai‘i is a relatively simple process.
All persons adopted in Hawai‘i have access to their adoption records when they reach the age of 18.
Records are held at the family court where the adoption took place. The law also allows adoptive parents and birth parents to access the adoption record when their child turns 18. These records contain information about the parties to the adoption, court documents, and the adoptee’s original birth certificate.
Since the enactment of the 2016 law, 87 people in Kaua‘i have requested adoption records including 58 adoptees, four birth parents, and 22 adoptive parents according to data provided by Adoption Circle of Hawai‘i.
Adoption Circle of Hawai‘i provides services to all members of the adoption triad no matter where they are in the process.
“The people involved in the triad need to be in charge of what they want to do,” McGlone said. “Some people have names of who their relatives are for years, and don’t act on it and other times they do it right away. All of this was taken out of our control long ago, and (now it) has to be on our own time when we’re ready for it.”
Interested Kaua‘i adoptees, adoptive families, and birth families, also referred to as the adoption triad, must complete a Request Regarding Confidential Adoption Records of the Family Court (Act 80 of 2016) form.
The form is available at the Juvenile Client &Family Services Branch, Pu‘uhonua Kaulike Building in Lihu‘e or by calling 808-482-2350 and requesting the form be mailed to you.
The completed form may be dropped off at the Juvenile Client &Family Services Branch or mailed to the address below. Mailed forms must first be notarized. Fifth Circuit Court, Juvenile Client &Family Services Branch, Suite #305, Pu’uhonua Kaulike Building, 3970 Ka‘ana Street, Lihu‘e, HI 96766.
Services the non-profit provides include education and referrals about DNA and Hawai‘i law, search tips and advocacy. Adoption Circle Hawai‘i can be reached at email@example.com or their website adoptioncirclehawaii.org.