63.162 Hearings and records in adoption proceedings; confidential nature.—
(1) All hearings held in proceedings under this act shall be held in closed court without admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, witnesses, counsel, persons who have not consented to the adoption and are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies who are present to perform their official duties.
(2) All papers and records pertaining to the adoption, including the original birth certificate, whether part of the permanent record of the court or a file in the office of an adoption entity are confidential and subject to inspection only upon order of the court; however, the petitioner in any proceeding for adoption under this chapter may, at the option of the petitioner, make public the reasons for a denial of the petition for adoption. The order must specify which portion of the records are subject to inspection, and it may exclude the name and identifying information concerning the parent or adoptee. Papers and records of the department, a court, or any other governmental agency, which papers and records relate to adoptions, are exempt from s. 119.07(1). In the case of an adoption not handled by the department or a child-placing agency licensed by the department, the department must be given notice of hearing and be permitted to present to the court a report on the advisability of disclosing or not disclosing information pertaining to the adoption. In the case of an agency adoption, the licensed child-placing agency must be given notice of hearing and be permitted to present to the court a report on the advisability of disclosing or not disclosing information pertaining to the adoption. This subsection does not prohibit the department from inspecting and copying any official record pertaining to the adoption that is maintained by the department or from inspecting and copying any of the official records maintained by an agency licensed by the department and does not prohibit an agency from inspecting and copying any official record pertaining to the adoption that is maintained by that agency.
(3) The court files, records, and papers in the adoption of a minor shall be indexed only in the name of the petitioner, and the name of the minor shall not be noted on any docket, index, or other record outside the court file, except that closed agency files may be cross-referenced in the original and adoptive names of the minor.
(4) A person may not disclose from the records the name and identity of a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or an adoptee unless:
(a) The birth parent authorizes in writing the release of his or her name;
(b) The adoptee, if 18 or more years of age, authorizes in writing the release of his or her name; or, if the adoptee is less than 18 years of age, written consent to disclose the adoptee’s name is obtained from an adoptive parent;
(c) The adoptive parent authorizes in writing the release of his or her name; or
(d) Upon order of the court for good cause shown. In determining whether good cause exists, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the adoptee, but must also give due consideration to the interests of the adoptive and birth parents. Factors to be considered in determining whether good cause exists include, but are not limited to:
1. The reason the information is sought;
2. The existence of means available to obtain the desired information without disclosing the identity of the birth parents, such as by having the court, a person appointed by the court, the department, or the licensed child-placing agency contact the birth parents and request specific information;
3. The desires, to the extent known, of the adoptee, the adoptive parents, and the birth parents;
4. The age, maturity, judgment, and expressed needs of the adoptee; and
5. The recommendation of the department, licensed child-placing agency, or professional which prepared the preliminary study and home investigation, or the department if no such study was prepared, concerning the advisability of disclosure.
(5) The adoptee or other person seeking information under this subsection shall pay the department or agency making reports or recommendations as required hereunder a reasonable fee for its services and expenses.
(6) Subject to the provisions of subsection (4), identifying information regarding the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee may not be disclosed unless a birth parent, adoptive parent, or adoptee has authorized in writing the release of such information concerning himself or herself. Specific names or identifying information must not be given in a family medical history. All nonidentifying information, including the family medical history and social history of the adoptee and the birth parents, when available, must be furnished to the adoptive parents before the adoption becomes final and to the adoptee, upon the adoptee’s request, after he or she reaches majority. Upon the request of the adoptive parents, all nonidentifying information obtained before or after the adoption has become final must be furnished to the adoptive parents.
(7) The court may, upon petition of an adult adoptee, for good cause shown, appoint an intermediary or a licensed child-placing agency to contact a birth parent who has not registered with the adoption registry pursuant to s. 63.165 and advise them of the availability of same.
History.—s. 16, ch. 73-159; s. 10, ch. 75-226; s. 2, ch. 77-140; s. 22, ch. 77-147; s. 2, ch. 77-446; s. 3, ch. 78-190; s. 5, ch. 80-296; s. 4, ch. 82-166; s. 3, ch. 84-101; s. 2, ch. 85-189; s. 2, ch. 87-16; s. 19, ch. 90-360; s. 16, ch. 92-96; s. 341, ch. 95-147; s. 23, ch. 96-406; s. 25, ch. 99-2; s. 27, ch. 2001-3; s. 30, ch. 2003-58.