There’s great news coming from Adoption Equity Ohio about their efforts to open Ohio adoption records! Those of you who do not have experience with adoption may not realize that when a child is adopted his or her original birth certificate is sealed and a new one is issued listing the adoptive parents as the birth parents. In most states, adult adoptees do not have access to their original birth certificates.
Ohio has had a strange tiered access law in place, which does allow adoptees born before 1964 and after 1996 to get copies of their original birth certificates but those born in the 32 years in between are out of luck. Well, there is a process for getting their documents but it’s a mess. Check out the helpful info graphic designed by Adoption Equity Ohio (you can click to enlarge it) to understand just how difficult it is for those adopteees to access documents most of us can get just by filling out a form and signing a check.
Adoption Equity Ohio is working to change this and has two companion bills that were introduced in the Ohio House (HB 61) and in the Ohio Senate (SB 23) on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. There are two sponsors in each body – Senator Bill Beagle (R) and
Senator Dave Burke (R) in the Senate, and Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R) and Representative Nickie Antonio (D) in the House. These bills will create the following positive changes:
- Ohio adoptees adopted 1964 to 1996 access to their Original Birth Certificate upon request at age 18, starting one year from bill passage date.
- Ohio birthparents to file a Contact Preference Form specifying if and how they would like contact.
- Ohio birthparents to complete and put on file an updated medical history for the adoptee.
Here are six ways you can help:
- Attend the hearing this Wednesday, February 20th in the Ohio Statehouse, Room 121 at 3pm. (I plan to be there!)
- Write a letter to the adoption agency where your or your child’s adoption initiated about your support for this bill and why it is important to you. Please include challenges you have faced because of the current laws. Ask them to support the bill.
- Write letters to the House and Senate committee members.
- Contact your own State Representative and Senator, if you have not yet – or if you have, and they are a co-sponsor, thank them!
- Write letters to the editor of your local papers about these bills being introduced and why they are important to you. If you have a relationship with your paper, ask them to cover this issue (you can read the press release Adoption Equity Ohio sent right here) .
- Make a financial contribution to help fund their efforts – you can do so by going to going to their website or by mailing a check made out to Adoption Network Cleveland, specifying ROAR! 2013 in the memo line.
If you want up-to-the-minute updates on the bills progress, please consider liking the Adoption Equity Ohio Facebook page!