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Library: Policy

340:75-15-133. Confidential Intermediary Search Program 

Revised 9-15-2021

    Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) administers the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program, which is limited to adoptions and termination of parental rights proceedings completed in Oklahoma, as required by Section 7508-1.3 of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes.  The Confidential-Intermediary Search Program permits a confidential search for certain adult members of an individual's birth family, with whom contact was lost through adoption or parental rights termination proceedings.  Persons contacted under this program are directed to the Mutual-Consent Voluntary Registry where exchange of identifying information can be authorized.  • 1

(1) Confidential Intermediaries.  Confidential intermediaries who conduct searches, are certified by, and can be contracted through OKDHS.  Confidential intermediaries are subject to OKDHS criteria establishing:

(A) eligibility standards;

(B) training requirements;

(C) standards of conduct and search procedures; and

(D) fees paid by persons requesting assisted searches.

(2) Persons eligible for the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program.  Persons who may request a search or be the subject of a search, are:

(A) an adopted individual, 18 years of age and older (adult);

(B) an adult person whose biological parent's parental rights were terminated;

(C) the legal parent or guardian of a minor or mentally-incompetent minor of a deceased-adopted person;

(D) an adult descendant of a deceased-adopted person;

(E) the legal parent or guardian of a minor or mentally-incompetent minor of a deceased person whose biological parents' parental rights were terminated;

(F) an adult descendant of a deceased person whose biological parents' parental rights were terminated;

(G) a biological parent whose parental rights were voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by court order in an adoption, juvenile, guardianship, or domestic relations proceeding;

(H) an adult biological sibling or biological grandparent of an adult-adopted person or of an adult person whose parents' parental rights were terminated; and

(I) the sibling of a deceased-biological parent whose parental rights were voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by court order in an adoption, juvenile, guardianship, or domestic relations proceeding.

(3) Persons not eligible for the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program.  Persons who are not eligible for a search are listed in (A) - (E) of this paragraph.

(A) Anyone who has not previously registered with the Mutual-Consent Voluntary Registry at least six months prior to submission of the application for the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program services.

(B) An adult adopted person who has a minor-biological sibling in the same adoptive family or in an adoptive or foster family or other placement whose location is known to the adult-adopted person.

(C) An adult whose biological parents' parental rights were terminated and who has a minor-biological sibling in the same family or in an adoptive or foster family or other placement, whose location is known to that adult.

(D) Anyone who previously initiated a search for a biological parent that refused to share identifying information, communicate, or meet, and who initiates a subsequent search for a biological relative of that biological parent.

(E) A birth relative, other than a birth parent, who applies to initiate a search or is the subject of a search, in which case the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator ascertains from the State Registrar of Vital Statistics if an affidavit of nondisclosure by a birth parent of the adopted person is on file.  When an affidavit of nondisclosure is filed and was not revoked, the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator must decline to initiate a search at the request of or for any birth relative of the birth parent who filed the affidavit of nondisclosure, unless the person initiating the search can provide satisfactory proof that the birth parent who filed the affidavit of nondisclosure is deceased.

(4) Requirements of the confidential intermediary.  Each potential confidential intermediary signs Form 04CI010E, Confidential Intermediary Oath of Confidentiality, which must be signed under penalty of perjury, prior to receiving OKDHS certification.

(5) Eligibility competencies and standards for confidential intermediaries.  Persons contracting with OKDHS to perform searches must:

(A) be 21 years of age and older;

(B) complete a minimum of two years at an accredited college or university;

(C) demonstrate a minimum of two years' experience, either professional or volunteer, in legal or psychological aspects of adoption and adoption search;

(D) demonstrate expertise, through written references, approved training, and personal interviews, regarding:

(i) sensitivity to adoption-related issues;

(ii) an ability to maintain confidential files and information;

(iii) an ability to work within established legal, administrative, and ethical boundaries;

(iv) listening and communication skills, written and verbal;

(v) an ability to work with persons from diverse backgrounds and cultures;

(vi) personal attitudes toward adoption, search, and reunion to maintain professional neutrality; and

(vii) general and specific knowledge of search procedures and techniques utilized to successfully locate sought after parties;

(E) provide a criminal background search with no record of arrests or convictions; and

(F) attend continuing education and applicable training as required by OKDHS to maintain confidential intermediary certification, in the areas of adoption, search, and reunion.

(6) Procedures to initiate search by confidential intermediary.  The eligible person described in paragraph (2) must:

(A) complete an application to initiate a search;

(B) provide satisfactory proof of identity to the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator with a copy of a:

(i) birth certificate;

(ii) current driver license; or

(iii) Social Security Administration card; and

(C) pay the OKDHS-established fee for initiating a search.

(7) Procedures for search by confidential intermediary.

(A) The Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator assigns the search to a confidential intermediary.  The confidential intermediary is permitted to inspect:

(i) all court records relevant to the adoption or termination of parental rights proceedings;

(ii) the original birth certificate, or other sealed adoption records, and other relevant records, when any, in the possession of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics; and

(iii) all relevant records in OKDHS possession.

(B) The confidential intermediary:

(i) presents documentary proof of the intermediary's certification and the referral form from the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator to records custodians, prior to obtaining access to any of these records;

(ii) may also inspect records in the possession of a private adoption agency or attorney, but only when the private agency or attorney voluntarily agrees to cooperate and permits the examination; and

(iii) keeps all information obtained during the course of the investigation confidential, except when disclosure is permitted by the procedures described in search policy.

(C) When the confidential intermediary is able to locate the subject of the search, the confidential intermediary makes a discreet and confidential inquiry as to whether the person who is the subject of the search will consent to share identifying information, communicate, or meet with the person who initiated the search.  The inquiry is made without disclosing the identifying information about the person who initiated the search.

(i) When the person, who is the subject of the search, is willing to share identifying information, communicate, or meet with the person who initiated the search, the confidential intermediary must obtain this consent in a written document that is dated and signed by the subject of the search.

(ii) When the person who is the subject of the search is not willing to share identifying information, communicate, or meet with the person who initiated the search, the confidential intermediary must attempt to obtain any non-identifying medical or social history information requested by the person who initiated the search.

(iii) When the confidential intermediary discovers the subject of the search is deceased, the confidential intermediary includes this information in a written report.  When the deceased subject is a biological parent, his or her identity is included.

(D) Any written consent and non-identifying information obtained by the confidential intermediary, along with a written report of the results of the intermediary's search and inquiry, is transmitted to the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator.

(E) When the confidential intermediary is unable to locate the subject of the search, the confidential intermediary reports this to the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator in writing and includes a description of the search efforts.

(F) When the confidential intermediary discovers that the identity of the biological father was unknown or not revealed by the biological mother, the confidential intermediary includes this information in a written report.

(8) Confidential-Intermediary Search Program confidentiality.  All searches done through the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program are confidential.

(A) Any information obtained by a confidential intermediary during the course of the investigation is kept strictly confidential and is disclosed and utilized only in the manner permitted by this Section.

(B) 10 O.S. § 7508-1.3 states that any person who discloses information obtained during the course of a search performed, per this Section in violation of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned for a period of six months or both.

(9) Search records.  Search records are examined, retained, and maintained as outlined in (A) - (D) of this paragraph.

(A) The OKDHS-contracted confidential intermediary may examine children's Child Welfare Services records maintained by the OKDHS State Office.

(B) No original file contents or copies of confidential documents are removed from OKDHS files.

(C) Any reports and other information collected as a result of a search performed, per this Section are retained by the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator for 22 years following the date of the initial search application.

(D) During a confidential intermediary search, the intermediary maintains records of all actions and furnishes copies of those records to the Confidential-Intermediary Search Program administrator.

(10) Confidential-Intermediary Search Program fees.  Each application for a search through a confidential intermediary must be accompanied by a fee, per 10 O.S. § 7508-1.3.  • 2  Once application is made for the search and is initiated by the confidential intermediary, any fees paid are non-refundable under any circumstances, including unsuccessful location or reunion.  All fees are waived for siblings who were separated through OKDHS adoptions.  Each application for a search must be accompanied by a:

(A) $20 fee to register on the Mutual-Consent Voluntary Registry, six months prior to application for a search;

(B) $400 fee for an initial search for one eligible person.  Of this fee, $100 is used for search program administrative costs and $300 is the fixed rate for the search, paid to the confidential intermediary; and

(C) $200 fee for subsequent searches for eligible persons by the same requester.  Of this fee, $50 is for search program administrative costs and $150 is the fixed rate for the subsequent search, paid to the confidential intermediary.  

INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-15-133

Revised 9-15-2021

1. Procedures for State Office Adoption Section Reunion & Search Administrator are listed in (1) through (6).

(1) Upon receipt of the confidential intermediary's report, the search program's administrator contacts the person who initiated the search.

(2) When the subject of the search agreed to share identifying information, communicate, or meet, the administrator relays this information and obtains the written consent of the person who initiated the search before arranging the sharing of identifying information, communication, or a meeting between them.

(3) Upon receipt of the written consent of both the initiator and the search's subject, the administrator facilitates a communication or meeting.

(4) When non-identifying medical or social history information was obtained, the administrator provides a copy of the non-identifying information to the search initiator.  If the intermediary was unable to locate the search's subject, or the subject is deceased or did not consent to exchange identifying information, communicate, or meet, the administrator shares that information with the search's initiator.

(5) When the search's subject is a biological parent who is deceased, the administrator provides the search initiator with any identifying information available regarding the deceased biological parent, if the search initiator consents in writing to receive the information.

(6) When the search initiator subsequently applies to the court for an order allowing the release of identifying information for good cause shown, after the search's subject refused to share identifying information, communicate, or meet, the initiator advises the court of the search results.  Upon the court's request, the program's administrator discloses to the court the confidential intermediary's report regarding the search results, including any information about why the search's subject objected to disclosure or contact.

2. This program recognizes that while some parties may have a strong desire to obtain identifying information, others do not.  This program is voluntary for all participants and fully recognizes the right to privacy and confidentiality of all people involved.

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