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Baptismal Records

1. Where are Baptismal records kept?

2. Can we change the names on a baptismal register?

3. My child is adopted. What must I do to have the child baptized?

 

1. Where are Baptismal records kept?

Each individual parish keeps records of baptism, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals. There is no central filing system in the Archdiocese of New York.  In order to obtain these records, you must contact the parish. Please utilize our online search for a parish page.

If the parish is not listed, or if the parish has merged and you are unsure where the records may reside, please send your concern in writing to the Vicar General's Office. The Vicar General's Office will be happy to provide a listing of the parishes in the area in which a relative was baptized. Please send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your request to Vicar General's Office, 1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022, and we will be happy to send you a listing of parishes in the area that have been merged.

2. Can we change the names on a baptismal register?

Often people will want to change the name of a godfather or godmother on a baptismal certificate for a variety of reasons. However, we are not permitted to change the entries made in a baptismal register. The godparents are the official witnesses of the baptism and therefore the certificate is a quasi-legal document. This is not an easy answer to accept, especially in cases where there is estrangement on the part of family members between each other. We try to convince the persons requesting the change to appoint someone who will be the sponsor for the child at Confirmation. Let that person accept the "role" of godparent until such time that his or her name can be entered as sponsor for confirmation.

3. My child is adopted. What must I do to have the child baptized?

When baptism is sought BEFORE the final order of adoption is granted, the minister should not baptize a child until he receives:

1. An official document from the lawyer or authorized adopting agency, stating that the child is legally free for adoption. This eligibility notice should come no earlier than 30 days after the natural parent(s) surrender the child for adoption. AND

2. A signed consent form from the natural parent(s) consenting to the baptism of the child.

These two requirements must be met before a minister can perform a baptism of a child before the final order of Adoption has been issued. If these requirements cannot be met, the baptism must be postponed.

Once the final order of adoption has been issued, the adopting parents are required to offer proof of the final court order of adoption to the church of baptism.

The Chancery Office can also authorize an emendation to the baptismal register of an adopted child who has already been baptized. The original birth certificate, baptismal certificate, and the final court order for the adoption must be submitted to the Chancery, which will authorize the parish in which the child was baptized to make a marginal note that the child had been adopted and has received a new surname. The Chancery keeps records of all such changes.