How Do I Find Adoption Records?

In Tennessee, adoption records are sealed by court order.  A 1999 ruling of the Supreme Court of Tennessee allows access to some of these records, depending on the date of the adoption.

If an adoption took place in Tennessee on or after March 16, 1951, the adopted individual can have access to their own adoption records.  Please go to the web page of the Post-Adoption Unit of the Department of Children’s Services or contact them at (615) 532-5637 for more information.

Adoption records prior to 1951, including those held by the Library and Archives, are sealed by law and only available by special court order. Some records relating to the adoption – such as a judge assigning guardianship of the child in question – may appear in the open court records of the county where custody of the child was surrendered. Please see our page “How Do I Find Court Records” for more information.