I am delighted to endorse and support SB 152, a bill that if passed, will restore the right of all South Dakota adopted persons, without restriction, to access their original birth certificates upon request.

SB 152 is about rights not reunion. It is about the relation of adoptees to the state. It is about the absolute natural right of identity and the civil right to a true unfalsified birth certificate for all South Dakota adoptees. SB 152 as written is a simple-to-understand measure that recognizes the presumed right of all adults to unrestricted access and ownership of their true birth certificates, not just some. If adoptees are not equal legally to the not-adopted in terms receiving their own birth certificates, then the right of anyone to possess their own birth certificate is not a right but a state favor.

SB 152 is inclusive. It acknowledges a legally, morally, and ethically correct one-size fits all standard of identity and records rights for all persons– adopted and not adopted.

SB 152 does not change adoption procedures. Adoption records are sealed upon finalization, not relinquishment. If the court denies an adoption petition or the petition is withdrawn, the birth record remains unsealed. If an adoption is overturned or disrupted, the birth record is unsealed. Most significantly, if a child is never adopted the birth record is never sealed. Thus, if sealing birth records was meant to hide parental identities absolutely, records would be sealed upon relinquishment, not finalization. Even in traditional closed adoptions first parent identities are often recorded on court documents given to adoptive parents without first parent consent. Similarly, legal advertisements with identifying information are often published, and courts may open adoption records for “good cause” without first parent consent.

SB 152 does not open original birth certificates to the public. Original birth certificates are unsealed only to the adoptees and designated persons, not the public.

Conclusion. Rights are for all citizens, not favors or privileges for some. US law does not privilege rights by race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not privilege rights byaoptive status. There is not any other judicial procedure that I can think of where records are sealed from those to whom the procedure pertains. SB 152 will not harm anyone, but will restore equality, dignity, and fairness to adopted persons and their biological and adopted families.

SB 152 gives South Dakota lawmakers the opportunity to lead the the country in positive adoption reform by restoring adoptee civil rights in the state. Please vote YES on SB 152. It’s the right thing to do!

Yours truly,
Marley Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization


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