December 5, 2006
Ms. Amy BurtAmyburt40@yahoo.com
Dear Ms. Burt:
Thank you for your recent inquiry to Governor Daniels regarding adoption records. Your letter was forwarded to me for response as the Director of the Department of Child Services. Until the early part of the 20th century, adoption documents were treated as public records. The practice of "sealing" these records away from the public eye and issuing amended birth certificates began during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Prevailing attitudes held that all parties named in the documents (adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents) needed to be protected from the social stigma associated with illegitimacy, infertility, poverty, mental illness, addiction, and any of the myriad of reasons that might have been associated with the reasons children were placed for adoption and the reasons children were adopted. "Sealing" these records was seen as an effective and necessary (at the time) means of "keeping the silence," and most states enacted laws to do this.
The Indiana Adoption History program was established as a result of legislation passed in 1993 as a way to assist persons who seek information about adoptions to which they were a party. For further information about this program, you may contact the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) at (317) 233-1325 or 233-7253. A packet of information will be sent to you regarding the appropriate procedures to follow.
Some of the points you make in your letter are well taken and perhaps times have changed enough to where the Indiana State Legislature would consider a fresh look at this issue. I encourage you to send your recommendations to one or all of the state Representatives and Senators as these individuals have the authority to review and change laws in the state of Indiana. I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns and recommendations with us and for your efforts to advocate on behalf of adoptees. Sincerely,
James W. Payne, Director Department of Child Services
JWP: AG: rmf: IMA00136998Cc: Office of the Governor
"Protecting Our Children, Families, and Future"