Gather information you have. While adoption documents given to adoptive parents and birth parents remove identifying information such as names and addresses, they do provide information and clues, such as date of placement and adoption history. You will need information such as birth dates and placement and adoption finalization dates to find the right records. It also helps to know which tribe or tribes were notified about the adoption.
Contact the lawyer or adoption agency involved in the adoption. In most states, if any of the parties involved in the adoption consented to give out identifying information at the time of the placement, the lawyer and agency will be able to supply the last known information.
Contact the tribal court that was notified of the adoption. The Indian Child Welfare Act requires tribe approval of the adoptive placement and requires that the tribe be provided copies of the adoption finalization for its records. Tell the tribal court what you are seeking and the reason for requesting the documents. Unless the reason for obtaining the information is a medical emergency, the court may deny your request or supply only non-identifying information.
File a petition in the state court where the adoption occurred. While the Indian Child Welfare Act governs how Native American children can be placed for adoption, the adoptions themselves are executed in accordance with state laws. Much like the tribal court, records with identifying information will not be released without consent of the other party or if there is a medical reason.
In the book CALLED HOME (Book 2) (see sidebar) - we devote an entire chapter on how to use ICWA to open your adoption records to contact the tribe, and how to use DNA results.