IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

 

PROMISE DOE, KIMBERLY C. )

and RUSS C., and SMALL WORLD )

MINISTRIES, INC., )

)

Plaintiffs, )

)

v. ) No. 96-6197

)

DONALD SUNDQUIST, Governor )

of the State of Tennessee, in his ) DECLARATION OF SARA ELMORE

official capacity; CHARLES )

BURSON, Attorney General of the )

State of Tennessee, in his )

official capacity; and LINDA )

RUDOLPH, in her official capacity )

as the Commissioner of the )

Department of Human Services for )

the State of Tennessee, )

)

Defendants. )

 

STATE OF TENNESSEE )

: ss:

COUNTY OF DAVIDSON )

1. I am an adult citizen and a resident of Georgia. The statements herein are based upon my personal knowledge. After my birth in Tennessee in 1959, my birth parents gave me up for adoption. My adoption took place in Tennessee, and all records of my adoption have remained in Tennessee, the access to which are subject to Tennessee law.

2. For many years, I have wanted to know the identity of my birth parents. It is very important to me to know who I am and where I came from.

3. I intended to begin the process of attempting to gain access to my adoption records immediately after the changes to T.C.A. 36-1-101 et seq came into effect on July 1, 1996. I contacted the Tennessee Department of Human Services (now Tennessee Department of Children's Services) to request access to my records, but was informed that the United States District Court had entered a temporary injunction staying enforcement of that law. I was very disappointed because I had already waited so long to obtain my records.

4. I was one of the fifty-three interested persons who filed a petition to intervene in this matter with the District Court on July 17, 1996. My affidavit was included with that petition to intervene, and is part of the Record that has been submitted to this Court. Pursuant to the District Court's July 24, 1996, I was granted amicus curiae status.

5. Immediately after the District Court's August 23, 1996 Order lifting the stay and denying the Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, I applied to obtain access to my records with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. When the stay was reactivated by this Court on September 11, 1996, I knew that my request was no longer being processed. I again was facing the prospect of having to wait to see if I could ever gain access to those records.

6. After this Court entered its judgment of February 11, 1997, and the Tennessee Department of Children's Services again began processing requests for information, I received a letter notifying me that I could set an appointment to view my records. As part of this process, I was required to fill out an affidavit in which I promised not to contact or attempt to contact anyone to whom the contact veto applies. I made my appointment for Monday, February 24, 1997.

7. I drove the 400 miles from Fayettesville, Georgia, to Nashville, Tennessee, in order to obtain access to my records on February 24, 1997. I know that I was one of the first people to receive access to my records under the new law when I met with a representative of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services on that day. It was a terrific relief to have access to information I had been waiting to see for my entire life. Finally seeing my records was thrilling and exciting for me and I am gratified to have finally found out who my birth parents and birth siblings were.

8. I now have a medical reason for wanting to contact my birth parents. My adoption records state that my birth mother was institutionalized in a mental hospital several days after my birth. As an adult, I have suffered from a thyroid condition for many years. I am aware that depression is a side effect of this condition. Thus, I am particularly concerned about obtaining specific medical information about my birth parents, especially my birth mother's mental condition, to provide background into my medical condition and the possible side effects. I feel it is vital to find my birth parents so that I have access to this medical information.

9. I have not violated the promises contained in my affidavit about refraining from contacting my birth family, and will not do so, if at all, pending the outcome of the State's contacts with them. I realize the importance of the contact veto provision in the law, and that the individuals named in my adoption files have a statutory right not to be contacted. I will respect their rights as to that issue.

10. It is extremely frustrating, however, to know that the State has ceased enforcement of the statute, which includes contacting my birth family regarding their right to veto contact. I do not know how long it will be before the Contact Veto Registry process is completed. Until it is, I still cannot obtain up to date medical information from my birth family.

11. I feel especially badly for the people who have not yet had an opportunity to get their records. I looked forward to mine and would have been terribly disappointed at further delay.

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is ture and correct.

Executed February ___, 1997. ________________________

SARA ELMORE