Current Michigan Law. It’s Confusing. It’s Chaotic.
Let’s make it gone!
- Adoptees born on or after May 28, 1945, but before September 12, 1980: are not entitled to their Original Birth Certificate except by court order. They may use the Michigan Central Adoption Registry to find identifying information but that does not include access to the Original Birth Certificate;
- Adoptees born before May 28, 1945: are entitled to their Original Birth Certificate but only if a birthparent does not file a Disclosure Veto with the state;
- Adoptees born on or after September 12, 1980: are entitled to their Original Birth Certificate but only if a birthparent does not file a Disclosure Veto.
On October 17, 2023, two bills were introduced in the Michigan House to fix this mess and restore the right of all Michigan-born adoptees, at the age of 18, to obtain their Original Birth Certificate upon request. These bills are tie-barred under the title Equity for Adoptees Package. Neither bill can be enacted into law without the enactment of the other.
HB5148, introduced by Rep. Kristian Grant is clean bill that allows all Michigan-born adoptees, their descendants, or legal representatives to obtain the adoptee’s Original Birth Certificate without restrictions or conditions upon request at the age of 18. The bill contains a voluntary optional Contact Preference Form which allows biological parents to record if they would like contact, but does not control the release of the OBC.
HB5149 introduced by Rep Pat Outman, eliminates the current court procedure and Central Adoption Registry control over the release of the OBC. It retains biological parent denial of identifying information requests already on file, BUT that request does not restrict OBC access. A denial of information request cannot be filed after July 1, 2024.
All OBCs will be released through the State Registrar.
Rep. Outman’s bill and support is very important. Earlier this year he introduced HB4529, a reactionary bill that retroactively rescinded the timeline and required all adoptees to be subjected to birthparent consent not only for the OBC but for all identifying information–everyone would be discriminated against, not just some. The bill made no sense. But then something happened. Adoptee rights activists sat down with Rep Outman and explained the current problem and how his bill would exacerbate it. He listened and changed his mind. Rep Outman became a co-sponsor of HB5148 besides sponsoring HB5149 and 2 sponsors of the bad bill became co-sponsors of the new bills. Ultimately, 9 sponsors of the bad bill supported the new bills; 1 didn’t vote. This is spectacular! I would like to hear more about how this occurred.
On November 8, less than a month after the bills were introduced, both bills were voted favorable out of the Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors. The next day, the House passed both bills, 99-8, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The Michigan legislature, for all intents and purposes, is now in recess so we will have to wait until next year to seal the deal.
Rep. Grant posted this celebratory comment after passage on Facebook:
The Equity for Adoptees package, HB 5148 and HB 5149, has been voted out of the House with broad bipartisan support! This package will bring Michigan adoptees equal access to vital records.
All year I have worked with core adoption groups to craft legislation that brings justice to adoptees, like my own mother and many of my constituents. After several drafts and conversations with the administration, we have brought forward bills that do exactly that.We couldn’t have done this without our partners at Adoptee Rights Coalition and adoptees from across Michigan, who spent time the last few weeks advocating for our cause to members in the House. Thank you to all who came out!Today we also declared November as ‘Adoption Awareness Month’, which recognizes all the people and organizations behind the adoption process. I was so happy to see this resolution adopted on the same day as these reforms.
The work is not over, but I am proud of what we have done so far. Senate here we come!
- Michigan Adoptee Rights Coalition
- Michigan Adoptee Rights Coalition – Facebook
- Michigan Adoptee Rights Coalition FAQ on HB5148/HB5149
- Bastard Nation Letter of Support for HB5148/HB5149
- Bastard Nation 2023 Legislation Page
- Bastard Nation Michigan State Page
Originally posted on the Bastard Nation website, November 13, 2023
(No, it will never be X!)