I understand that HB 391 will soon be heard before the Civil Law & Procedure Committee. This bill places undue procedural restrictions on Louisiana adult adoptees who want to access their original birth certificates. It implements mandatory counseling by a paid Confidential Intermediary (social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) for an adoptee who simply wants his or her own original birth certificate — a document that the not-adopted can acquire without restriction. This CI would not only determine if the adoptee is “prepared” to actually “own” their own birth certificate and personal information, but to seek permission from a birthparent for its release, which in turns seemingly navigates the adoptee into a state-approved “reunion” whether the adoptee wants it or not. I can think of no other example of over-arching state authority over the personal documents and relationships of individuals.
For those concerned about “birthparent privacy:” Courts have ruled that birth is a public and private event; therefore no birthparent right to anonymity from their own offspring exists. For decades birthparents have testified that anonymity was forced on them by law. Legal and academic research back this. Not one single document, in over 40 years of legislative activity, has been presented to any legislature or court promising birthparent “anonymity.” Birthparent identification is available through legal advertisements and documents given to adoptive parents at the time of adoption finalization. Most crucially, the OBC is sealed at the time of adoption finalization, not at the time of relinquishment. If a child is never adopted the document remains unsealed. If the adoption is overturned or disrupted the OBC is unsealed. DNA tests and social media have made adoption secrecy a thing of the past. Today, the vast majority of adoption searches initiated by either adoptees or birthparents are done through inexpensive DNA tests and social media. Neither the state nor the OBC is a secret keeper.
At a time when other states are unsealing the OBC and other documents to adoptees to which they pertain, (Alabama, for instance, restored access in 2000 without incident) Louisiana inexplicably has HB 391 before it, The bill infantilizes adoptees and sends the message that they are not mature or even safe enough to hold a copy of their own birth certificate. The bill suggests that adoptees and adoption are something shameful to be hidden away locked in a government vault. Please do not support HB 391. Vote NO!