The National Center for Adoption Permanency, led by Adam Pertman and the Post-Adoption Center for Education and Resources (PACER) has signed on to the Joint Statement in Opposition to Florida HB357/SB576. This makes a total of 24 national, state, and international adoptee rights and adoption reform organizations who oppose Florida HB357/SB576. The only support the bill has received comes from a murky anonymous “adoptee rights” group claiming to represent Florida adoptees, who refuse to make their names public and rejects the idea that OBC and other adoption record access is a right.
1) Pre-July 1, 1977s adoptions: Currently, in theory, Florida adoptees whose adoptions were finalized before June 30, 1977 have unrestricted access to their OBC, a right they have held for decades. No specific legislation, however, was enacted to authorize that release. As a result, due to misunderstanding and misapplication of law, some pre-1977s adoptees receive their OBCs, but many others are routinely denied access. In some cases, the Department of Health has refused to comply, even if with lawfully issued court order has been issued, and adoptees have been forced to sue the state for what is rightfully theirs. HB357/SB576 does not cover these circumstances. It appears, in fact, that under HB357/SB576 pre-1977 OBCs would remain held hostage to current ambiguous and confusing Florida release practice and the whim of bureaucrats. They would receive no relief. That is, it is likely that the current pre-1977 system and its misuse, will remain in place.
(2) July 1, 1977- June 30, 2018 adoptions: OBCs would be released to adoptees 40 years after adoption finalization. An OBC can be released earlier if the birthparent(s) listed on it is deceased or can reasonably be presumed to be deceased; an adoptee provides written evidence of knowledge of the birthparent(s) name that appears on the OBC; the adoptee receives a court order for release. Although the bill does not include a Disclosure Veto or similar restrictions, it does prescribe “contact preference” and medical history forms for birthparents to submit to the state voluntarily. We expect that if the legislative process moves forward that restrictions such as Disclosure Vetoes, or white-outs will be added to the bill making it even more restrictive and anti-equality.
(3) July 1, 2018-beyond adoptions: OBCs would be released to adoptees upon request, with no restriction, at the age of 18.
If your organization has not yet become a signatory and want to join, please contact me at [email protected] with your authorization and we will add you.
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