Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0250-07-07-.03 - PROCEDURES FOR ACCESS TO RECORDS
(1) Access to sealed records, sealed adoption records, or post-adoption records shall be granted by the Department to an eligible person as provided pursuant to this Chapter when such person's identity has been verified and such records exist. A person seeking access to sealed records, scaled adoption records, or post-adoption records as an eligible person pursuant o this Chapter shall file a written request with the Department's post-adoptions unit in care of:
Tennessee Department of Children's Services
Post Adoption Services
436 6th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243-1290
(2) Requests for searches will be processed on a first come, first serve basis in the order of receipt and after all other pending search requests Filed oil or before June 30, 1995 under prior Departmental procedures pursuant to T.C.A. § 36-1-139-14 1 as those code sections existed on that date, unless the Department, in its sole discretion, determines that life threatening or medically terminal circumstances involving the requesting party warrant taking a particular request out of order, which reason shall be noted in the post adoption record.
(3) No search for or authorization for access to records shall be processed or copies of records provided until the fees required by 0250-7-7-.04 have been paid or a fee waiver determination required by 0250-7-7-.04 has been completed unless the Department shall determine, in its sole discretion, that access should be provided prior to payment of the fee or the fee waiver determination because of a life threatening medical emergency affecting the health, safety, or welfare of any person(s) or because of a medically terminal circumstance involving the requesting party.
(a) When a preliminary determination of eligibility indicates that die adoption was finalized on or after March 16, 1951 and/or a record was not maintained by Tennessee Children's Home Society, the Department will notify the requesting party.
(b) Notification will include an explanation of the Department's preliminary findings, an explanation of available services and (he fee for the opening or the scaled record or the sealed adoption record to further verify eligibility.
(5) Any courts, licensed or chartered child-placing agencies or information sources who are requested by any person who may be eligible for access to records pursuant to this Chapter to release information from any closed records related to the person's adoption or which were maintained by the Tennessee Children's Home Society must receive authorization for release of information from the post adoptions unit of the Department; provided this shall not be construed to preclude the opening of such records by court order as provided by law.
(6) The post adoption unit staff will review all records prior to their release to the adopted person or other eligible persons to determine eligibility of the person requesting to have access to the record and to verify the individual's identity and relationship to the adopted person.
(a) When review of the record reveals that information in the records pertains to other individuals not a party to the adoption or placement or, or maintenance of a record about, an adopted person, or other eligible persons requesting the records, and the review demonstrates to the Department that the record has apparently been misfiled, that information will be reviewed by the Director of Adoptions and such information will be removed and filed in the correct sealed record, sealed adoption record or post-adoption record or in a new sealed record created for the holding of such information.
(b) Home studies pertaining to foster and/or adoptive parents will be removed from the sealed or sealed adoption records prior to the review and/or copying of the record for the eligible person.
(c) Information relating to the counseling of a biological mother regarding crisis pregnancy counseling will be removed from the scaled record or scaled adoption records prior to the review and/or copying of the record for the eligible person.
(a) Records may be opened by the Department to determine relationship of the adopted person and other eligible persons requesting access to tile records.
(b) Proof of relationship may be shown by any satisfactory evidence to the Department.
(c) If relationship, verification or identity, or other facts necessary to permit access to the records cannot be determined from any information made available to the Department or if other circumstances pursuant to these rules, including denial or a fee waiver, require, then the person requesting access shall be notified by the Department that access to the records has been denied, the person shall be notified or the basis of denial or access in writing and person may request a fair hearing pursuant to the Department's rules.
(9) Distribution of photographs
(a) Any photographs contained in the sealed records of an adoption finalized prior to March 16, 1951 or which exist in any sealed records from the Tennessee Children's Home Society shall be given to the adopted person who requests access to the record. Photocopies of such pictures shall be made for the sealed record or sealed adoption record and a notation will be made in the sealed record, the sealed adoption record, and in the post-adoption record stating to whom the photographs were given and the date such original photographs were removed from the sealed adoption record.
(b) In the event the adopted person is deceased, the original photographs will be given to the lineal descendant who first requests the record following the adoptee's death and photocopies of the photographs will be made and preserved as stated in subparagraph (a) above.
(10) Procedure when no sealed record or sealed adoption record exists under the supervision of the Department.
(a) When no sealed record or sealed adoption record is on file with the Department, the person making the request for access to a record in any information source must identify the Tennessee court believed to have granted the adoption or which had jurisdiction of the adopted person' s adoption proceeding and/or the Tennessee licensed or chartered child-placing agency which had made the placement of the adopted person or which had maintained the person's record.
(b) If the Tennessee agency is no longer in existence the Department will not conduct a search for the record of that agency, unless information is provided to the Department which will enable the Department to locate the record.
(c) When a request for service is received and the Department has no sealed record or sealed adoption record, the person requesting the service will be notified. This notification will explain the services available to search for a record, any additional information which may be needed for the search, and the fee for the service.
(11) Those persons who, according to the post-adoption file, have received a copy of their sealed record or sealed adoption record by court order, but have not had access to the post-adoption record and/or wish to receive a letter of authorization for information from any other information sources, will be notified of the services available and the procedures necessary to access the record, and the fee for such service. For those eligible persons who have received all records, including sealed records, sealed adoption records, and post-adoption records and who are only requesting a letter of authorization, such letter of authorization will be provided to such persons. No authorization for a release of information from any other information sources will be provided by the Department until the fee for service has been received or the fee waiver request has been granted or the fee waived as otherwise provided herein.
(12) All courts and agencies which are discovered not to have sent to the Department information which should be apart of the sealed record or the sealed adoption record after March 16, 1951 and prior to the effective date of these rules will be asked to send such information within sixty (60) days of the request for such documents.
(13) When all records have been reviewed by the eligible person and any copies made, the record will be returned to the information source; provided, however, the Department will make copies, if necessary, of all records which are not maintained by the Department or the Department of General Services, for future reference. The Department will establish a sealed record or a sealed adoption record to maintain the information it receives as a result of such circumstance.
(14) Additional requests for access by a particular person will only be processed every six (6) months unless, in the Department's sole determination, satisfactory evidence is provided that warrants further processing of a request for access to records.
Authority: T.C.A. §§ 4-5-202, 4-5-226(b)(2), 36-1-101 et seq., 36-1-102, 36-1-127, 36-1-141(a) and (d), 37-5-101, 37-5-105, 37-5-106, 37-5-112(a), and Public Acts of 1995, Chapter 532, House Bill 406.
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