American Adoption Congress supports state-by-state legislative efforts to obtain access for adult adoptees to their original birth certificates. AAC prefers unrestricted access to this document for all adult adoptees but will accept compromise legislation if, in the opinion of AAC and local supporters, such a compromise is necessary to obtain the greatest access for the greatest number of adopted persons.
Sample resolution and information to present to legislators.
Click here to access the 2013 State Legislatures Session Calendar.
This map will provide an overview of birth certificate access for adopted adults in all states.
HB-690 reopens birth and adoption records to Alabama adult adoptees and ends a 9-year roadblock enacted in 1990 as part of a sweeping overhaul of the Alabama Adoption Code. Prior to January 1, 1991, adult adoptees in Alabama had been able to view all of their adoption records upon request. In addition to the original birth certificate, HB-690 also provides for release of the court documents pertaining to the adoption which are contained in the sealed file at the Department of Vital Statistics. In contrast to the pre-1991 situation, adult adoptees are now able to receive and retain copies of some of their adoption-related documents. Documents held by private adoption agencies or the Department of Human Resources, however, were not impacted by the bill.
ARS 8-129 allows non-identifying information to be given to adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and others. It may include health and genetic history. Go to: www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=8.
Other hurdles existing statutes which created a disclosure veto (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/Engilsh/AD908.PDF) and a confidential intermediary process for sibling reunification (http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/English/AD904A.PDF). Amending these retroactively requires a costly mechanism.
California is on a two-year cycle, with the next one beginning in 2013. Any new legislative effort would not be mounted until at least that time.
In the first year (June 23, 2009 - June 22, 2010), the Colorado Department of Vital Statistics processed 836 requests for OBCs.
CURRENT LAW: The State registrar shall make available to any birth parent named on an OBC a contact preference form on which the birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by an adult adoptee, an adult descendant of an adoptee, or a legal representative of the adoptee or descendant. The contact preference form shall allow the birth parent to voluntarily include his or her contact information in the adoption record and shall provide him or her with options to indicate a preference regarding whether he or she would or would not prefer future contact with the adoptee or adult descendant of the adoptee and, if contact is preferred, whether the birth parent would prefer contact directly or through a confidential intermediary or a child placement agency. The contact preference form shall also indicate that the birth parent can change his or her contact preference form by notifying the State registrar in writing.
The contact preference form provided by the State registrar shall include an option for the birth parent to authorize the release of the OBC. An authorization to release may be exercised and submitted to the State registrar at any time.
For more information, go to www.aisctc.org and click on FAQs.
ACCESS CONNECTICUT, a grassroots organization in Connecticut, will be working to introduce a full access bill in the 2013 legislative session. ACCESS CONNECTICUT is working with Carolyn Goodridge from Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents and the Connecticut Council on Adoption.
CURRENT LAW: Adult adoptees (18) and birth parents may apply in person or in writing to the child-placing agency or the department to request the release of identifying information. The information should be released unless the consents of every person whose identity is sought. are not given or the release of the requested information would seriously disrupt or endanger the physical or emotional health of the applicant or the person whose identity is being requested.
Any person seeking to examine or obtain a copy of the original birth certificate must obtain a written order from the court in the jurisdiction in which the adoptee was adopted or born. The court will determine that the examination or issuance of a copy of the birth certificate of the adoptee by the adoptee by the adopting parents or the adoptee, if older than age 18, or by any other person will not be detrimental to the public interest or to the welfare of the adoptee or the birth or adoptive parents.
For additional information, please contact Carolyn Hoard.
Upon written request of an adult adoptee (21), the name of the birth parents shall be released if the birth parent has submitted an unrevoked written consent. If a birth parent has not filed an unrevoked written consent, the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry shall make a diligent effort to notify each birth parent that a request for information has been made. The birth parent may then file an affidavit consenting or objecting to disclosure.
HB5428 passed in May 2010, allows Illinois-born adoptees born prior to Januray 1, 1946, to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC). If the adoptee is deceased, surviving children of the adoptee may obtain a copy of the deceased parent's OBC. As of September 2011, 811 OBCs have been released to this group.
The second phase of the law, covering post -1945 adoptions, becomes effective in November 2011. Adoptees, age 21 and older, may request a non-certified copy of the OBC through the Illinois Department of Public Health. If the adoptee is deceased, surviving children of the adoptee may obtain a copy of the deceased paren'ts OBC. As of April 223, 2012, 2,445 OBCs had been released.
A birth parent of an adoptee born after 1945 may file a form to veto disclosure of the birth parent's identity for as long as the birth parent is alive. If a birth parent has vetoed disclosure, all identifying information about that birth parent will be deleted from the OBC provided to the adoptee. A veto by one birth parent does not prevent disclosure of the identity of the other birth parent. Disclosure vetoes are ineffective after the vetoing birth parent dies.
The Illinois Birth Parent Preference Form provides a means for birth parents who do not veto disclosure to express a preference for direct contact, contact through a friend or relative, contact via a state intermediary, or no contact.
Post-1946 adoptees must apply for their OBC by U.S. mail only; no requests will be handled in person or via the Internet. Although there has been a wait of up to six months for adoptees to receive their OBC, The Illinois Department of Vital Statistics is catching up with the initial backlog of requests. It is expected that future wait times will be shorter.
For more information and copies of the forms go to http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/vital/non_certified.htm
Indiana advocates, HEAR - Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records -- continue education and advocacy among legislators in advance of the 2012-13 session when efforts will begin anew to launch a new bill. As soon as a new Chair of the Legislative Committee is appointed, the sponsoring Senator will hold a meeting for all interested parties to create the new bill.
CURRENT LAW: For adoptions before 12-31-1993: Identifying information shall be released if the adult adoptee (21) and the birth parent have submitted a written consent to the State Registrar.
For adoptions after 12-31-1993: Identifying information shall be released to the adult adoptee upon written request to the State Registrar unless the birth parent has submitted a written non-release form that indicates the birth parent's lack of consent to release of identifying information.
The original birth certificate is withheld from inspection except for a child adopted by a stepparent or as provided in statutes pertaining to release of identifying information.
Passive registry. The State Registrar shall reveal the identity of the birth parent to the adult adoptee (age 18) or the identity of the adult adoptee to the birth parent if all of the following conditions are met:
The original birth certificate (OBC) may not be inspected except under order of a court. The State registrar shall, upon the application of an adult adoptee, a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or the legal representative of the any of the former, inspect the OBC and reveal to the applicant the date of the adoption and the name and address of the court that issued the adoption decree.
The OBC is available only to the adult adoptee. The adoptee's descendants cannot get the OBC (which many want when the adoptee is deceased). The OBC is stamped, in red, VOID so that the document cannot be used for fraud. It has only been in the past 15 years or so that this has been done. The same form and fee, is used for ALL in Kansas whether adopted or not adopted. This form may be accessed at: www.kdheks.gov/vital/birth.html
If an adoptee is born in KS but the adoption was completed in another state, they still get the OBC. If the adoptee was born elsewhere but the adoption was completed in KS, the adoptee can still obtain the state adoption record but the OBC stays with the state (and their laws) where the adoptee was born.
Birth parents/siblings can request a search, though SRS, and forward their identifying information to the adult adoptee. It then is the decision of the adoptee whether or not to directly contact that particular birth family member. Identifying information about the adult adoptee cannot be released to any birth family member without the written, notarized consent of the adoptee. For a Kansas state adoption record form for all adoptions completed in Kansas, click here. At the present time there is no fee for the Kansas adoption record or for requesting a search for a birth family member or adoptee.
59-2122 Files and records of adoption
(b) The department of social and rehabilitation services may contact the adoptive parents of the minor child or the adopted adult at the request of the genetic parents in the event of a health or medical need. The department of social and rehabilitation services may contact the adopted adult at the request of the genetic parents for any reason. Identifying information shall not be shared with the genetic parents without the permission of the adopted adult. The department of social and rehabilitation services may contact the genetic parents at the request of the adoptive parents of the minor child or the adopted adult in the event of a health or medical need. The department of social and rehabilitation services may contact the genetic parents at the request of the adopted adult for any reason.
The original birth certificate is available by court order only.
HB 444 has been signed by the governor. The bill establishes a means to gather birth medical history to be released in a non-identifying way; describes conditions of disclosure through the court in cases of inheritance rights, medical necessity or registration with the State Registry; and extends State Registry participation to parents or siblings of deceased biological parents, adoptive parents of a minor or deceased adopted person.
The Office of Community Services of the Department of Social Services shall maintain a voluntary registry for the matching of adoptees and birth parents or siblings, or both. The purpose of this registry shall be to facilitate voluntary contact between the adoptee and the birth parents or siblings, or both.
The use of the registry shall be limited to the adoptee who is at least age 18, the birth mother, the birth father, parents or siblings of a deceased birth parent, an adoptive parent of a minor or deceased adoptee, and any birth sibling who is at least age 18. No registration by an adoptee shall be permitted until all birth siblings who were adopted by the same adoptive parents have reached age 18.
The registry shall not release any information from adoption records in violation of the privacy or confidentiality rights of a birth parent who has not authorized the release of any information.
The registry shall confirm for an adoptee the fact of his or her adoption and identify the court in which the adoption was finalized and the agency, firm, or lawyer facilitating the adoption when that information is known by the department. To receive this information, the adoptee shall be age 18 or older, submit the request in writing, and provide proof of identity.
The original birth certificate is available upon court order to the adoptee or if deceased, the adoptee's descendants, or the adoptive parent.
Statistics reflect findings in other access states.
In the two years since the law changed, more than 850 OBCs have been released to adoptees. Of the limited number of birth parents completing Contact Preference Forms, most request contact.
Please visit: www.obcforme.org
Media Release - New Law Affects Maine Adoptees
Advocates are working with their sponsor on HB 22, and SB 165, currently in the Maryland legislature, 2013 session. This bill includes release of the original birth certificate to adoptees at age 18, and the amended birth certificate to birth parents at age 18, upon request. Advocates have asked for a contact preference option to be included. This bill specifically covers adoptees and birth parents from 1947, when records were closed, until 2000. However, there is talk of changing the bill to cover 1947 and forward. There is a contact veto provision in the law (listed below for adoptions finalized from 2000 forward, and the current bill asks for its removal.
Adoptees born after 2007 may obtain their OBC on and after reaching 18 years of age. Access to those born between July 17, 1974 and January 1, 2008, will be denied unless a probate court finds that the adoption record contains evidence of a birth parent's willingness to provide information about her or his identity to the adoptee.
CURRENT LAW: for adoptions finalized between 5-28-1945 and 9-12-1980, identifying information shall be released to the adult adoptee (18) on each birth parent who has consented to the release, or both birth parents if both consented or if one or both parents are deceased. If no consent is on file, an adoptee can use a confidential intermediary to conduct a reasonable search and obtain consent. For adoptions finalized before 5/28/45 and after 9-12-1980, identifying information may be released to an adult adoptee upon request unless the birth parent has filed a statement with the central adoption registry denying release.
A copy of the original birth certificate may be provided to the adult adoptee upon request when accompanied by a copy of a central adoption registry clearance reply form or by court order.
MCAR will continue efforts this session with a bill containing a contact preference form and removing language in which OBCs would not be released if the birth mother were deceased.
Contact Carrie Blesener
CURRENT LAW: An adult adoptee (19) may request the Commissioner of Health to disclose the information on the adoptee's original birth record. Within 6 months after receiving the request, the department or agency shall make reasonable efforts to notify each birth parent. If the department is unable to notify a parent identified on the original birth record within 6 months, and if neither parent has at any time filed an unrevoked consent to disclosure, the information may be disclosed as follows:
If the person was adopted prior to 8-1-1977, he or she may petition the court for disclosure, and the court shall grant the petition if, after consideration of the interests of all known persons involved, the court determines that disclosure of the information would be of greater benefit than nondisclosure.
If the person was adopted on or after 8-1-1977, the commissioner shall release the information to the adoptee.
If either birth parent has ever filed with the commissioner an unrevoked affidavit stating that the information on the original birth record should not be disclosed, the commissioner shall not disclosure by that parent.
If a parent named on the original birth record has died, and at any time prior to the death the parent has filed an unrevoked affidavit stating that the information not be disclosed, the adoptee may petition the court of original jurisdiction of the adoption proceeding for disclosure.
The State Registrar shall provide a copy of an adoptee's original birth record to an authorized representative of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe for the sole purpose of determining the adoptee's eligibility for enrollment or membership in the Tribe.
An adult adoptee (21) may request identifying information on either or both birth parents from the Bureau of Vital Records. If the birth parents have not filed a prior refusal, the adoptee can request that agency conduct a search. Unless the birth parent files a consent, identifying information cannot be released. If birth parent cannot be located, information cannot be released.
The original birth certificate shall not be a public record and shall not be released except upon the order of the court.
SUMMARY: This act modifies provisions regarding adoption records. Current law allows for non-identifying information, if known, concerning undisclosed biological parents or siblings to be furnished by the child-placing agency or the juvenile court to the adoptive parents, legal guardians or adopted adult upon request. This act allows such non-identifying information to also be furnished to the adopted adult's lineal descendants if the adopted adult is deceased.
SECTION 453.121.4 Current law allows the adopted adult to make a request and prescribes a procedure for obtaining consent from both the adoptive and biological parents if prior consent has not been given either through the adoption information registry or through contact by the child-placing agency or juvenile court personnel. This act modifies current law by requiring just the biological parents to be notified about the request for identifying information.
SECTION 453.121.4 and 5 If a biological parent authorizes the release of information or if a biological parent is found to be deceased, the court shall disclose the identifying information as to that biological parent to the adopted adult so long as the other biological parent: is unknown; is known but cannot be found and notified; is deceased; or has filed with the court an affidavit authorizing the release of information.
SECTION 453.121.7 This act provides that adopted adults may obtain identifying information on adult siblings with the sibling's consent without the court having to find that such information is necessary for health-related purposes.
CURRENT LAW: For a person adopted on or before 7-1-1967, the Department of Public Health shall furnish a copy of the original birth certificate upon the written request of an adult adoptee (18).
For a person adopted between 7-1-1967 and 9-30-1997, the department shall furnish a copy of the original birth certificate upon a court order.
If relinquishment or consent to adoption was given prior to 9/1/88, an adult adoptee (25) can file a written request for his or her original birth certificate (OBC). The Department of Health & Human Services shall release the OBC if the birth mother, if unmarried at the adoptee’s birth, or both birth parents have signed a consent form (relative means biological parents or siblings) and the adoptive parents have not filed a non-consent form.
Passive registry maintained by the Division of Child & Family Services.
For more information, log onto: www.sos.nh.gov/vitalrecords
After 31 years, the New Jersey Assembly finally passed the Adoptees's Birthright Bill, S799, on May 9, 2011. (The Senate had passed the bill four times in the previous eight years.) However, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, replacing most of the sections with the oppositions' bill, which would have required a confidential intermediary to find the birth parent(s) and get their permission to release the original birth certificate to a requesting adult adopted person. Further, it required future relinquishing parent(s) to complete a form regarding contact in the future, and it gave them the option of nondisclosure from their son or daughter.
Advocates requested that the sponsors of the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill withhold the conditionally vetoed bill from further consideration by the legislature, and they agreed. The conditionally vetoed bill would have had to been passed by both the Senate and the Assembly (and signed by the Governor) before it could have become law.
Advocates continue to educate the public and legislators on the merits of the human right to know the truth of one's origin, and we are exploring options for the future. Further information may be found on www.nj-care.org and NJCARE's Facebook page. To read the Adoptees' Birthright Bill, the conditional veto, or to see how legislators voted, please go to www.njleg.state.nj.us and type S799 in the Bill Number box on the right. Use the drop-down menu to select 2010-2011 under Legislative Session and hit Search. Click on the bill number in red type, scroll down and choose the format (PDF or HTM) under Senate Committee Substitute - S1399 to read the bill as passed by the legislature. The link to the Conditional Veto is on the next line. Under Session Voting, click on Roll Call to view the vote in either the Senate or Assembly.
Registry maintained by the State Children, Youth & Families Department with search and consent system requiring court approval. Release of the OBC requires court approval.
CURRENT LAW: Passive registry. Adult adoptees (18) and birth parents can register with the Adoption Information Registry to receive identifying information. When a match is confirmed, registry will notify the parties and the court where the adoption occurred to request each registrant’s “final consent” to the release of information. Upon receipt of the final consent, information is released.
The original birth certificate is available only upon order of the court.
This bill also allows an agency acting as a Confidential Intermediary to obtain a certified copy of a death certificate of the person who is the subject of the search and deliver it to the person who is searching.
Anyone with an Ohio connection who wants to help lobby for passage (either a current OH resident, or a member of the adoption constellation who relinquished, or was born or adopted as a child in Ohio) is encouraged to contact Betsie Norris .
Representative Ben Sherrer introduced OK HB 2634 during the 2012 Legislative session. HB 2634 is an unrestricted access bill. It passed unanimously through both the House Judiciary Committee and the House floor, but was not heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee where it was assigned. Rep. Sherrer plans to re-introduce the bill next session, and advocates continue to educate legislators regarding adoptee access issues.
For more information, contact Samantha Franklin at 918 697-2002.
CURRENT LAW: For adoptions finalized after 11-1-1997, an uncertified copy of the original birth certificate is available to an adoptee, age 18 or older, upon written request under the following conditions:
• He or she presents proof of identity.
To access the history of the lawsuit that upheld Initiative 58 and to see the results of the Initiative click here.
The Does v. Oregon Decision upholding Initiative 58. (PDF )
HB 162, an unrestricted access bill, was introduced in the PA House of Representatives on January 16, 2013. The bill would allow Pennsylvania-born adopted adults to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. HB 162 has been assigned to the Committee on Children and Youth.
On July 1st 2011, Governor Lincoln Chafee signed into law S0478 Sub A which restores the human right for all adult adoptees 25 years of age or older born in Rhode Island to obtain a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate. On July 1, 2012 adoptees will be able to request their OBC from the Rhode Island Vital Records Office.
Passive registry with information provided to individuals who match. Parties must undergo counseling. The original birth certificate (OBC) is sealed by the State Registrar. The statute does not specify a procedure for access to the OBC.
Advocates are working to educate legislators and the public about adopted persons' right to have access to their OBC. They plan to have a new bill introduced in the 2012 session, requesting a change in the law that would strike the words “with a court order” when adopted persons request their OBC. The State has a passive registry with a Contact Preference Form already in place for use by birth parents.
For more information contact Lynne Banks
For the 2010 session, S152 has been introduced by Senator Stanford Adelstein to release a non-certified copy of the original birth certificates to adoptees, 18 and older, without a court order. The state already provides a Contact Preference form for birth parents to complete. Under S152, the state will not do further outreach
CURRENT LAW: An adult adoptee can file with the Department of Health refusal or consent to the release of identifying information to a birth relative. The adoptee can also register consent to be contacted by a confidential intermediary instead of releasing information to a birth relative. Adult adoptees or birth parents can petition the court to appoint a CI to obtain consent or refusal.
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