For purposes of changing the date of birth in Social Security Administration (SSA)
records of a foreign-born individual affected by the Accuracy for Adoptees Act, you
asked whether Georgia has the authority to change a foreign-born individual’s date
of birth through a court order.
Georgia courts have the legal authority to change a foreign-born individual’s date
of birth through a court-issued adoption decree.
According to the information provided, the Civil Registry Office of Tsentralny District,
Ukraine, issued a birth certificate on April XX, XXXX, indicating M~, the number holder
(NH), was born on October XX, XXXX, in Odessa, Ukraine. The Ukrainian birth certificate
lists A~ and J~ as NH’s adoptive parents. NH and his adoptive parents are residents
of the State of Georgia. On April XX, XXXX, the Superior Court of Gwinnett County,
Georgia (Court) issued an Amended Final Judgment and Decree of Adoption (Decree) granting
NH’s adoptive parents’ petition to adopt him. The Decree indicated NH’s adoptive parents sought to adopt him based on a foreign
adoption decree and a visa granted to NH by the United States Immigration and Naturalization
Service. The Decree stated NH’s date of birth as listed on his Ukrainian birth certificate
was incorrect and that February XX, XXXX, should be entered as the date of birth on
the soon-to-be-issued Certificate of Foreign Birth.
On April 27, 2005, the Georgia Department of Human Resources – Vital Records Services
(Vital Records Services) issued a State of Georgia Certificate of Foreign Birth for
NH that shows his date of birth as February XX, XXXX. The Certificate of Foreign Birth
recites, “Data shown above based on evidence presented to the Gwinnett Superior Court,
dated 04-18-2002.” On March XX, XXXX, the United States Government issued a Certificate
of Citizenship to NH, indicating he became a citizen of the United States on April
XX, XXXX. The Certificate of Citizenship shows NH’s date of birth as February XX,
On August XX, XXXX, NH’s adoptive father asked SSA to change NH’s date of birth, currently
reflected in SSA records as October XX, XXXX, to February XX, XXXX, the date of birth
listed in the Decree, NH’s Certificate of Foreign Birth, and NH’s Certificate of Citizenship.
Social Security regulations provide that an individual may request a change in the
personal identifying information previously submitted in connection with a Social
Security Number (SSN) application. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.110 (2015). An applicant requesting a change in his or her date of birth must submit documentary
evidence that the Commissioner of Social Security regards as convincing. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 422.107(a), (b); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 10210.010(A). Examples of the types of evidence that an applicant may submit to establish age
are a birth certificate, a religious record showing age or date of birth, or a passport.
See 20 C.F.R § 422.107(b); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.716(a) (stating the best evidence
of age is a birth certificate, hospital birth record, or religious record recorded
before age five); POMS RM 10210.265(A)-(D) (listing kinds of documents that establish age for an SSN card). A delayed
birth certificate (recorded after age five) may constitute convincing evidence. See
20 C.F.R. § 404.716(b); POMS RM 10210.265.C. A final adoption decree that shows the child’s name and date of birth may also
constitute convincing evidence. See POMS RM 10210.265.C.
The Accuracy for Adoptees Act requires Federal agencies to accept United States issued
documents as evidence of date of birth for foreign-born adoptees who are adopted by
a United States citizen parent. See Pub. L. No. 113-74, 127 Stat. 1212, amending Section
320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1431. Acceptable documents
include a state court order, birth certificate, certificate of foreign birth, certificate
of birth abroad, or a similar state vital records document issued by the child’s state
of residence in the United States after the child has been adopted. See id.
SSA has issued instructions for processing SSN applications affected by the Accuracy
for Adoptees Act. See EM-14023 – Enumeration: Processing Name and Date of Birth Determinations for Foreign-Born
Adopted Children under the Accuracy for Adoptees Act – One Time Only Instructions.
These instructions also apply where an individual is requesting to change his or her
date of birth in SSA records. See EM-14023.F. Where an individual presents a document issued by a State as evidence
to establish a date of birth different from what is shown on the child’s foreign birth
certificate, as is the case here, SSA adjudicators must determine:
whether the State has the authority under state law to change a foreign-born individual’s
date of birth through a state court order;
the State legal requirements to change a date of birth;
whether the court order needs to list the supporting documentation of the change of
date of birth on the state court order;
if the State has the authority to change a date of birth, the documents the State
issues as proof of the change of date of birth; and
whether the State issues a Certificate of Foreign Birth, Certificate of Birth Abroad,
or other Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) document as proof of change of date of birth.
If the State issues the document under a different title, identify the name of the
We looked to Georgia adoption law to address the questions above because Georgia is
NH’s post-adoption state of residence and the court judgment changing NH’s date of
birth was a decree of adoption issued by the Superior Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Georgia’s adoption statutes give exclusive jurisdiction of adoption matters to its
superior courts. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-2(a) (2015). Superior court judges must conduct full hearings on petitions for adoption, examining
the parties under oath and making appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of
law, and issue a ruling on the petition for adoption. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-18. The
judges are vested with a broad range of legal discretion to make these findings. See Madison v. Barnett, 601 S.E.2d 704, 705 (Ga. Ct. App. 2004). Thus, a Georgia superior court has authority
under state law to change a foreign-born individual’s date of birth through a court
order based on receipt of satisfactory documentary or testimonial evidence.
Georgia regulations provide Georgia’s legal requirements to change a date of birth.
Ga. Code Ann. § 31-10-23(a) (governing the amendment and correction of vital records,
including birth certificates). Georgia regulations indicate Vital Records Services
may change a date of birth by no more than one year with supporting evidence created
prior to the registrant’s seventh birthday. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 511-1-3-.30 (2015).
For Vital Records Services to change the year of birth by more than one year requires
an order from a superior or probate court. Id. The regulation does not state the kinds of supporting evidence required to change
a date of birth. See Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 511-1-3-.30. This regulation, however, does not apply to this
case because NH’s Certificate of Foreign Birth was not amended; rather, it reflects
the date of birth established in the Decree.
Georgia adoption law does not require an adoption decree to list supporting documentation
used to determine the date of birth for an adoptee born outside the United States,
but the required contents of such an adoption petition are set forth in Ga. Code Ann.
§ 19-8-13. An adoption based on a foreign adoption decree and a visa granted by the
United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, as here, requires the following
documents: (1) a certified copy of the final decree of adoption from the foreign country
of the child’s birth and a verified English translation, (2) a verified copy of the
visa granting the child entry to the United States, (3) a certified copy along with
a verified translation of the child’s amended birth certificate showing each petitioner
as parent, and (4) a copy of the home study completed for the United States Immigration
and Naturalization Service. See Ga. Code Ann.§§ 19-8-8, 19-8-13(a)(6). The original petition and all amendments and
exhibits thereto must be placed under seal and locked following the issuance of the
decree. See Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-23(a).
After a superior court judge issues an adoption decree, the adoption statutes mandate
the preparation of a report of adoption to be certified by the clerk of court and
submitted to Vital Records Services. Ga. Code Ann. § 31-10-13(a), (d). For an adoptee born outside the United States,
Vital Records Services must prepare and register a “Certificate of Foreign Birth”
that reflects the adoption and proof of the date and place of birth of the child established
by the Decree. Ga. Code Ann. § 31-10-13(f)(2). Vital Records Services issues a Certificate
of Foreign Birth in response to the clerk’s notification of an adoption of a foreign-born
individual. Id. This document reflects the date of birth indicated in the adoption decree. Id.
NH’s adoptive father presented NH’s Certificate of Foreign Birth and the Decree as
evidence in support of his request to change NH’s date of birth in SSA records. These
documents comply with all requirements of Georgia law and constitute convincing evidence
of NH’s correct date of birth. Pursuant to EM-14023, SSA should accept these documents
as evidence of NH’s correct date of birth.
Because Georgia’s adoption statutes permit its superior courts to make findings of
fact and conclusions of law in adoption decrees, Georgia courts have the legal authority
to change a foreign-born individual’s date of birth through a court-issued adoption
Mary Ann Sloan
Regional Chief Counsel
Megan E. Gideon
Assistant Regional Counsel