§578-15 Secrecy of proceedings and records. (a) The records in adoption proceedings, after the petition is filed and prior to the entry of the decree, shall be open to inspection only by the parties or their attorneys, the director of human services or the director's agent, or by any proper person on a showing of good cause therefor, upon order of the court. Except in the case of an individual being adopted by a person married to the legal father or mother of the individual or unless authorized by the court, no petition for adoption shall set forth the name of the individual sought to be adopted or the name of either of the parents of the individual; provided that the legal name of the individual and the name of each of the individual's legal parents may be added to the petition by amendment during the course of the hearing thereof and shall be included in the decree. The hearing of the petition shall be in chambers and shall not be open to the public.
(b) Upon the entry of the decree, or upon the later effective date of the decree, or upon the dismissal or discontinuance or other final disposition of the petition, the clerk of the court shall seal all records in the proceedings; provided that upon the written request of the petitioner or petitioners, the court may waive the requirement that the records be sealed. The seal shall not be broken and the records shall not be inspected by any person, including the parties to the proceedings, except:
(1) Upon order of the family court upon a showing of good cause;
(2) After the adopted individual attains the age of eighteen and upon submission to the family court of a written request for inspection by the adopted individual or the adoptive parents;
(3) After the adopted individual attains the age of eighteen and upon submission to the family court of a written request for inspection by the natural parents;
(4) Upon request by the adopted individual or the adoptive parents for information contained in the records concerning ethnic background and necessary medical information; or
(5) Upon request by a natural parent for a copy of the original birth certificate.
As used in this subsection, "natural parent" means a biological mother or father, or a legal parent who is not also the biological parent.
(c) The clerk of the court shall keep a docket of all adoption proceedings, which may be inspected only by order of the family court. [L 1945, c 40, pt of §2; am L 1953, c 115, pt of §1; RL 1955, §331-15; am L Sp 1959 2d, c 1, §20; HRS §578-15; am L 1973, c 211, §3(m); am L 1976, c 194, §1(9); gen ch 1985; am L 1987, c 339, §4; am L 1990, c 338, §5; am L 1991, c 45, §1; am L 2016, c 80, §2]
Rules of Court
Confidentiality, see HFCR rule 79.
Law Journals and Reviews
Privacy v. Secrecy: The Open Adoption Records Movement and Its Impact on Hawai`i. 15 UH L. Rev. 483 (1993).
Cited: 45 H. 69, 79, 361 P.2d 1054 (1961).