Once an adoption is finalized, all adoption records are sealed and filed with the State. This is true for nearly all states, which require various levels of consent from adoption parties before information from sealed adoption records can be accessed.
Adoptees' No. 1 reason for accessing sealed adoption records is to learn more about their medical history. Sometimes this involves search and reunion, to contact a birth relative and inquire about any conditions that may have developed in the parents or siblings since the adoption.
Depending on the kind of information someone is seeking from an adoption record, the state may release nonidentifying information to a requester without having to register with the state registry. This information may include, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway: Date and place of the adoptee's birth, age of birth parents and a general physical description, race, ethnicity, religion and medical history of the birth parents, educational level and occupations of birth parents at the time of adoption, reason for placing the child and any siblings the child may have had.
Some adoptees may look to access their original birth certificate for search and reunion purposes. These are with the sealed adoption records, because a new birth certificate is made after an adoption is finalized. To retrieve this, an adoptee must sign-up with their state registry. Most states have a registry that works passively and require mutual consent be given from adoption parties before information is released. Other states may allow an agency to help with locating birth parents or adoptees.