We must remember that access to our OBCs are a constitutional right that all non adopted individuals have. It is not about the right to reunion. It is about the right to have the access to the same document that every other American has. Are we as a group second class citizens because of our birth? HELL NO. Why do adoptees get punished for wanting the same rights as non adoptees?
You want to promote adoption? Promote honesty and ethics in adoption. The time for action is now. Five states are now considering legislation for adoptee access. Some good laws and some bad laws.
According to the Daily Bastardette Fleas Biting, Mia's Saving Grace, and Family Preservation, the Ethics conference went incredibly well. Ethica and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute are fully on board with an adoptee's right to access.
Michigan House Bill 4896 is now being presented in front of state legislators. So far it is a clean bill. Let us hope that it stays that way. It only comes with a contact preference form. It was referred to Families and Childrens' Services on 6/12/2007. It was officially printed up in bill form on 6/13/2007. No date has been set for this committe meeting on this bill. As time moves forward, many of us adoptee, natural parent, and adoptive parent bloggers will present additional information. If you are a natural parent, please get in contact with these individuals because they still don't believe that you weren't given promised confidentiality. You can write the Michigan state legislators here and here. Currently Michigan law only allows adoptees born in 1980 to present time access to their records. The sponsors of this bill are Reps. Wojno, Accavitti, Miller, and Meisner
The next state that is considering legislation is Minnesota. Their bill, HF 1445, contains a contact veto bill. A contact veto denies an adoptee access to his/her OBC if one of the natural parents files a contact veto. Contact vetos are horrible. They give credence to the myth of natural parent's right to privacy. Please write the legislators in this state to tell them no that we do not agree with this kind of language. Their points of contact are here and here. They are currently adjourned until February 8, 2007. Now is a good time to contact these folks since they are out politicking. The authors/sponsors are the following: Tingelstad; Simon; Kranz; Hosch; Johnson; Emmer; Hilty; Walker; Fritz; Magnus; Thissen; Davnie; Severson; Lesch; Murphy, E.; Atkins; Clark; Gottwalt; Abeler; Slocum. It was sent to the Judiciary committee on 1/29/2007. There has been no further word on this bill at this time. Age that an adoptee can obtain his information is 19 years of age. The adoptee can petition to have access to their OBC. The state allows for six months in order for this to be resolved. Adoptees born after 1/1/2008 can have unfettered access to their records.
The bill reads like this:
1. For all adoptees born before August 1, 1982, they can have access depending up consent for disclosure. The agency/Vital Statistics Departments of the state must make contact with the parents. They must notify the adoptee within five days of this if there is a non disclosure and the date that it was filed. They will release information on the other natural parent if one parent has decided to veto contact.
2. For all adoptees born after 8/1/82 and before 1/1/2008, the agency must notify the natural parents of the possible release of OBC information. If there is no contact veto on file, the adoptee gets his information. The natural parent must provide evidence why disclosure is a hardship on them. All contact vetos become null and void upon the death of the natural parent.
3. For all adoptees born after 1/1/2008, all adoptees get a copy of their OBC.
The most interesting part of all of this is:
Subd. 6. Determination of eligibility for enrollment or membership in a 5.34federally recognized American Indian tribe. The state registrar shall provide a copy 5.35of an adopted person's original birth record to an authorized representative of a federally 6.1recognized American Indian tribe for the sole purpose of determining the adopted person's 6.2eligibility for enrollment or membership in the tribe. (Side Note on this ~ they must comply with the federal laws on this one)
The next state considering legislation is South Carolina. Their bill, HF 1445 and SF 347, is also a contact veto bill. This bill has seriously troubling issues:
2. The adoptee, and his biological parents, and siblings shall undergo counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.
1.(E) Notwithstanding another provision in this section, the clerk of court shall promptly furnish all nonidentifying information about the health and medical histories of the adoptee and his biological parents to the adoptee at his request if he is twenty-five years of age or older or to either adoptive parent at their request if the adoptee is less than twenty-five years of age.
3. When an adoptee requests the original record of birth, the Office of the State Registrar shall provide the adoptee with information concerning the psychological effects of adoption and with names of counseling agencies the adoptee may contact if he or she so chooses.
4. (D) If a birth parent or parents do not file the statement provided for in subsection (C)(1) with the Office of the State Registrar authorizing the release of identifying information, the Office of the State Registrar must not release any identifying information to an adoptee.
The agencies decide which circumstances are the most dire and can bypass these laws. No disclosure can be made within thirty days of the request unless there is an emergency situation that requires a different time line. The adoption agency/attorney are immune from prosecution if the disclosure causes issues. The point of contact with this bill is here and here. We most definitely need to write them about this one. They are treated us like naughty forever children on this bill.
New Jersey is another state considering legislation. Their bill is called SB 1087. It too is a contact veto bill. It was introduced on 1/26/2006. It was passed by the state Senate on 12/4/2006. The sponsors of this bill are Vitale, Joseph F. as Primary SponsorAllen, Diane B. as Primary SponsorSinger, Robert W. as Co-SponsorBuono, Barbara as Co-SponsorConiglio, Joseph as Co-SponsorAdler, John H. as Co-SponsorKarcher, Ellen as Co-SponsorWeinberg, Loretta as Co-SponsorCiesla, Andrew R. as Co-Sponsor.
The issues at stake with this one are:
1. It is a contact veto bill. They are requesting that a natural parent must consent to disclosure.
2. Failure of the natural parent to give a full medical history will result in the adoptee getting access to their OBC.
3.7. (New section) A person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or agency that has placed a child for adoption shall not be liable in any civil or criminal action for damages resulting from information provided by the State Registrar pursuant to this act.
New York also has a bill underway but it is too convoluted to make any sense of it at this time. They have also included a CI bill as well. I can't make hide nor sense of their bill. It is also my understanding that Catholic Charities, Planned Parenthood, and others are all against this bill ever seeing the light of day.
Most of these groups believe that a natural parent's implied privacy takes precedence over adoptee's right to the very document that accurately records their birth. There has not ever been any documented proof of this implied promise of privacy. When bills like these are pushed through the legislators, it gives these so called promises credibility. We must remember in fighting these types of laws that it is not about the right to a reunion but about the same rights that nonadopted individuals have. The right to the very document that accurately records our birth.