South Dakota law allows only the adoptee and the adoptive parents to open sealed adoption files (SDCL 25-6-15). To open a file, the adoptee must petition the court where the adoption was finalized to receive a court order. The Department of Social Services' Division of Child Protection Services and the Department of Health's Vital Records must sign off on the petition.
- As an adoptee, you can contact the Division of Child Protection Services' Adoption Unit at (605) 773-3227 to assist you with the petition.
- Once you receive the petition, take it to the judge of the court where your adoption was finalized.
- Once you receive the certified court order from the judge, send it to the agency which placed you to receive your adoption records.
Release of Nonidentifying Information to Adoptive Parents and Adoptees (SDCL 25-6-15.2)
Nonidentifying information, if known, shall be made available to the adoptive parent, or to the adoptee upon reaching the age of 18, and after a written request and proper proof of identification is provided. This information or any part thereof may be withheld only if it is of such nature that it would tend to identify a biological relative of the adoptee.
For the purpose of 25-6-15 to 25-6-15.3, inclusive, nonidentifying information is:
- The age of the birth parents at the time of birth of the adoptee. However, this does not include the dates of birth of the parents.
- The heritage of the birth parents, which includes nationality, ethnic background and race.
- The education, which shall be number of years of school completed by the birth parents at the time of the birth of the adoptee.
- The general physical appearance of the birth parents at the time of the birth of the adoptee in terms of height, weight, color of hair, eyes, skin and other information of a similar nature.
- The talents, hobbies and special interests of the birth parents.
- The existence of any other children born to either birth parent before the birth of the adoptee.
- Whether it was voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights.
- The religion of the birth parents.
- The occupation of the birth parents in general terms.
- The health history of birth parents and blood relatives.
- The relationship between the birth parents.