Genealogy Guides

A group portrait of orphaned children taken after they arriving in Lebanon, Missouri.

Adoption Records

Missouri does not have open adoption records. This situation, although common to most states, can complicate a genealogist’s search for their adopted ancestor.

Official Records

Missouri House Bill 1599, which took effect August 28, 2016, changes the law for requesting original birth certificates for adoptees. Please visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website for more information.

For information about adoptions occurring prior to 1917, researchers should check with the Office of the Recorder of Deeds in the adopted child’s county of residence. Beginning in 1857, the State of Missouri required adoptions to be filed by deed in the county of residence of the person adopting the child. [Laws of Missouri, 1856-57, pg. 59] It was not until 1917, that adoptions in Missouri required a petition to be filed in the juvenile division of the circuit court of either the county where the child resided or the county where the person seeking to adopt resided. [Laws of Missouri, 1917, pg. 193]

Resources Available at the State Historical Society of Missouri

Prior to 1853 some adoptions were made by legislative act. A reference specialist at SHSMO will check the personal act list in An Index to the Statute Laws of Missouri for adoptions occurring during this early period.

Other Resources

Orphan Train Adoptions

During the years 1854-1929, the Children’s Aid Society of New York sent approximately 100,000 children from the streets of New York to find new homes with families in the Midwest. Many of these children were then adopted by the families. Those who came as children on the “Orphan Trains,” or had parents or grandparents who came, may have success locating family members by contacting the following organization:

Researchers may also want to consider consulting with a professional genealogist who specializes in adoption research.