Reform Access Success

 Adoptee Access Succeeds in Oregon and New Hampshire

Oregon adoptees, age 21 and older, gained access to a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC) through  Measure 58, a state referendum affirmed by the Oregon Supreme Court in 2000. Birthparents were given an opportunity to indicate their preference regarding contact by filing a non-binding Contact Preference Form.  The law became effective May 31, 2000. 

New Hampshire’s bill resembled Oregon's with the inclusion of the non-binding Contact Preference Form for birthparents.  Adoptees, 18 years and older, were granted access to their OBCs effective January 1, 2005

Maine granted OBC access to adoptees, age 18 and older effective January 1, 2009.  They also included a non-binding Contact Preference provision for birth parents.

Facts and Data

  1. As of April 29, 2011, 10,410 adult adoptees have received their OBCs in Oregon. In New Hampshire, 1,315 have received their OBCs, as of March 26, 2011.  In Maine, 848 adoptees have received their OBCs, as of April 30, 2011.
  2. In all three states, birthparents' response to contact has been extremely positive.  A total of 650 birth parents have requested contact from their son or daughter.  In 11 years in Oregon, only 85 birth parents requested no contact.  In 6 years, New Hampshire had 12 birthparents request no contact, and in two years, Maine had 8 birthparents request no contact.

In these three states, there are a little over 155,000 sealed records.  Historically, in-family (related or non-confidential) adoptions account for 50% of all adoptions world-wide; therefore, the other half are unrelated.  The total of 105 birth parents requesting no contact represents 0.14% of sealed, unrelated records.  That's 14 one-hundredths of a percent!

Data from Oregon shows:

  • Adoption in Oregon has increased since the law went into effect.
    Oregon Department of Human Services reports that the number of independent (attorney assisted) adoptions increased from 208 in 2001 to 221 in 2002 and 2003.
  • Abortion in Oregon has not increased since the law went into effect.
    According to the Guttmacher Institute, Oregon’s abortion rate dropped 25% from 2000 to 2005 (the lateste statistics available), while the national average dropped 9%.
  • No violations of contact preference requests have been reported.
    Oregon Department of Human Services Health Division and Oregon State agency personnel indicate they have no knowledge of any violations of a no-contact preference by a birthparent.

Note: Neither the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse nor the Guttmacher Institute has statistics on adoptions and abortions, respectively, after the passage of the New Hampshire and Maine laws.