Adopted in Louisiana and Looking for Kin?

Tracing Your Roots: It's a closed-record state, and Katrina complicated things, but don't give up.

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Understandably, my husband doesn’t totally feel like a ‘free black man in America’ when he is prevented from finding his basic roots. We sincerely hope that you can provide us with some leads.” —Patricia E. Bowles, on behalf of Julius Frank Bowles

 From what you have explained, your husband should be able to order his birth record and that of his mother (if she was also born in the state) directly from Louisiana’s Center of State Registrar & Vital Records at the Department of Health & Hospitals for the State of Louisiana. Since his adoption was informal, it is likely that his original birth record was not sealed. These certificates can be ordered online or by mail.

As you say, Louisiana is a closed-record state, but that simply means that for records less than 50 years old, the person ordering the records needs to prove their identity (typically with photo identification like a driver’s license). According to the Department of Health & Hospitals for the State of Louisiana:

“You may obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate if you are the person named on the document, spouse of the person named on the document, parent of the person named on the document, adult child of the person named on the document, sibling of the person named on the document, grandparent of the person named on the document, or an adult grandchild of the person named on the document (unless otherwise authorized by LA R.S. 40:41).”

In addition, Louisiana vital records from more than 50 years ago are available to the public from the Louisiana State Archives. The archives hold Orleans Parish death records for 1819-1962, birth records for 1819-1912 (or at least 100 years ago) and marriage records for 1870-1962. They also have statewide Louisiana death records for 1911-1962 (or more than 50 years ago). You can search the indexes, and if you find any matches, you can order right from the website.

Your husband could also order the record of his biological mother’s marriage before she moved to Denver. This could provide information about her birth and her parents. Unless she married after 1963 or outside of Orleans Parish, her marriage record should be available from the Louisiana State Archives.

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