Currently, Indiana has two access bills in the hopper. HB 1201 is a convoluted, incomprehensible eye-burning mess that must have been written by a random bill generator. It seems to have something to do with access, but the several of us who have read it are not sure what. SB 469 is a different story. The bill seeks to expand backwards the state’s OBC access law to cover pre-1994 adoptees. The only problem is that (1) the current law, although it allows many adoptees to access their OBCs, contains a disclosure veto, and (2) the new bill expands that veto backwards; thus, creating a significant pool of potential unworthies to be blacklisted by the state.
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, upon request, of their own true, unaltered original birth certificates (OBC). We oppose HB 469.
Under current Indiana law, the original birth certificates* of those adopted before January 1, 1994 are sealed and cannot be released to the adoptee without a court order. Those adopted after that date can receive their OBCs without a court order– unless a birthparent files a disclosure veto with the state. This disclosure veto carves out a special “right” for birthparents that no other parent has– the “right” to bar the state from releasing the birth certificate to his or her own offspring.
This veto provision gives those birthparents who choose to use it, a vested right in state-guaranteed anonymity where none existed before and makes them immune from future changes in the law that would unseal all the state’s OBCs.
This vested right for the few does not exist for pre-1994 birthparents. Unfortunately, HB 469 expands this onerous veto provision to cover pre-1994 adoptees whose records could be otherwise unsealed if this law passes. The bill does nothing to restore the absolute right of OBC access that Indiana adoptees, once enjoyed. Instead, the bill will continue to make adoptee access to their own birth certificates a state/birthparent conditioned privilege separate and unequal from the right enjoyed by Indiana’s not adopted to receive their birth certificates without restriction. As long as a veto provision exists in Indiana law, Indiana adoptees will only receive favors, not rights.
For decades individuals and special interest groups opposed to adoptee OBC access have claimed that biological parents have been promised anonymity from their own offspring who were placed for adoption. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Courts have found that “birthparents do not have any legal expectation of anonymity.” (Doe v Sundquist, 943 F. Supp. 886, 893-94 (M.D. Tenn. 1996)) (06 F.3d 703, 705 (6th Cir. 1997)) (Does v Oregon, Summary Judgment Oregon State Court of Appeals) (Does v. State of Oregon, 164 Or.App. 543, 993 P.2d 833, 834 (1999)). Moreover, OBCs are sealed at the time of adoption finalization not surrender, and the birth certificate of any child not adopted is left unsealed and available to him or her. If an adoption is disrupted or overturned, the birth certificate is unsealed.
Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances due discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems. Indiana is one of 11 states currently considering a law to require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present proof of citizenship through birth certificates. Indiana’s proposal, SB 114, sponsored by Sen. Mike Delph and currently in the Elections Committee, requires that “a certified copy of each nominee’s birth certificate, including any other documentation necessary to establish that the nominee meets qualifications” to appear on the ballot.
Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the latter four states have been released with no reported ill consequences.
Rights are for all citizens, not favors doled out to some Indiana does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or parental preference.
Vote DO NOT PASS on SB 469. All of Indiana’s adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. Indiana adoptees deserve better than SB 469!
Submitted by Marley Greiner
Submitted February 8, 2011
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization
*We are unclear about the meaning of “adoption record” listed in SB 469. Bastard Nation supports to release of the OBC, adoption decree, and other court-held documents pertaining to the adoptee.
Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee’s historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.
Cross-posted to the Bastard Nation blog.