Court records of adoptions finalized in Oregon are sealed pursuant to ORS 7.211. A court order is required to unseal the records. However, since 1979 there have been laws in Oregon requiring the gathering of medical and biographical information about a child who is adopted, and this information can be released to an adopted person age 21.
Adoption did not exist at common law. That means that adoptions took place, but they were not done by legal proceedings. So, adoption is “wholly a creature of statute,” and the laws and regulations informing adoption policy can be changed by the legislature, and are regularly interpreted by the courts, without reference to any “common law” or “natural law.”
As an example what it means when there is no common law for the courts to hinge their opinion on, over time the legislature’s different requirements for Consent by the legal parents have changed, in various situations, so some of the adoption statutes requiring consent are internally inconsistent. Blame the piecemeal nature of making legislation over the course of 80 years. Blame the different beliefs regarding the “best interest of the child” and the guarantee of privacy, as the social stigma of illegitimacy, adoption, step-parents, same-sex couples, and single parenthood have evolved. Add in the evolving notions of bonds which a child may have with non-parents, such as grandparents, in an era of divorce being common and occasionally hostile. And factor in the huge increase in the numbers of parents who are impaired, unfortunately, by drug addiction or mental illness or other circumstances.
In general, an experienced Oregon adoption lawyer is the best resource you have to help you understand the laws and procedures which must be followed in order to obtain a court order, a Judgment of Adoption, or to try to modify or change an existing Judgment.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about adoption in Oregon!