Free adoption records is a term that works two-fold. In adoptee activism, "free adoption records" is a sought-after goal for adoptees in 44 states that keep tight reign on certain adoption records, like birth certificates. Free adoption is also a term used synonymously with public or state adoption. Free adoption records are no different than other adoption records. All adoption records are filed with the state, however, some agencies that facilitated an adoption may have a copy and be able to help with reuniting adoption parties. This isn't the case with free adoption records.
Most states will allow nonidentifying information to be released to an inquiring party with very little paperwork and petitioning. Nonidentifying information will include basic health information and descriptive information on a birth relative. Other states require different levels of voluntary and mutual consent before identifying information is revealed. Certain documents, like pre-adoption birth certificates or the names of an adoptees birth parents are more difficult to retrieve and many states require enrollment and facilitation by a state registry for identifying information.
There are only six states that allow adoptees to access original birth certificates - a hotly contested issue by some adoptees who feel discriminated against and that it's their right to have "open record" rights regardless of their state of adoption, which they feel is out of their control and chosen for, not by, them. Only 10 percent of American adoptees have the opportunity to access their birth certificates freely, according to the Adoptee Rights Coalition.