Just in time for National Adoption Month: New Ohio law makes adoption “easier”

Yesterday, the State of Ohio launched Family Forward, a program that creates state-backed low-interest 5-year loan assistance of up to $50,000, to qualified but financially stressed-out PAP/HAPs seeking to “build their families through adoption.” The program was created by HB 405, a bi-partisan measure that passed the legislature unanimously in 2020. Continue Reading →

Ohio SB23 Update: Passes out of Senate Committee with Procedural Amendments

This morning SB23–now Sub(stitute) Bill 23, sailed through the Ohio Senate Medicaid, Health, and Human Services Committee, 8-0. No substantive changes to the bill were made, but several amendments were added  to clarify procedures in the original bill. The sub bill is not online as of this writing, but should be available on the SB23 page shortly. Sub 23: Removes the 90-day deadline for the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to mail the contents of an adoption file to the requesting adoptee.  The original bill time-framed the response window to 90 days, but ODH, fearful of  the time it will take to process the large influx of requests  it expects  immediately after the bill becomes law, asked that the time frame be removed The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family  Services (ODJFS) will create the contact preference form  (cpf))as opposed to ODH, designated in the original bill. Requires any previous release of information forms on file under current law to be released with the adoption file. Deletes relatives “by marriage” from the definition of lineal descendant.  (Ex: .the adult child of a deceased adoptee can request the file, but his or her spouse cannot.). Removes a provision prohibiting a birthparent from including identifying information in a social or medical history form.. Removes provisions requiring ODH to Continue Reading →

Ohio Report: April 17, 2013 Senate Committee Proponent Hearing on SB23

I’m late in getting this posted, but I wanted to file a short report on the April 17 hearing for SB23 at the Ohio Senate Medicaid, Health, and Human Services Committee. You can also read an update on the ROAR site (Update #13). Wendy Bllitzer Barkett This was the first proponent hearing (the sponsor hearing was held on February 13). and consisted of two groups of witnesses.  The first were adoptees, some from out of state; the second “the experts.” Kicking off the hearing was adoptee poet Wendy Blitzer Barker  who came all the way from Texas to tell her story and support the bill. She was followed by Jeffrey Costello (Atlanta),  Erin  Hopkins McHugh, Ohio firefighter  Stephen Kelly, and Julia Derry.  Some told jerk-around stories relating to their individual probate court request for non-ID, which indicated that some courts are or have been in the past, out of compliance with current Ohio non-ID laws. And  I was beginning to think I’d heard it all! Elizabeth Samuels These witnesses were followed by Professor Elizabeth J Samuels  (University of Baltimore Law School) presenting the history of sealed records in the US and former Maine State Senator Paula Benoit sponsor of the bill that restored the right to OBC access in her Continue Reading →

Ohio–Breaking News–House Passes HB61

The Ohio House today voted 94-1 with 2 abstentions to pass HB61 which restores the unrestricted right of OBC access to those in Ohio adopted between January 1, 1964-September 17, 1996.  It’s companion in the Senate is pending. Sadly, the bill did not pick up the ’96’s who will still be subject to a Disclosure Veto (DV) already in place for that access tier.. The truth is that Ohio Legislative Services, which vets all bills, refused to OK challenging  the DV law that amounts to an agreement between the State of Ohio and a handful of cowardly biological parents who demand that the government  grant them a special privilege to hide their identities from their adult offspring.  This “agreement” is quite different from the blanket sealing of OBCs with no legal  “agreement,” despite what opponents claim and we have shown repeatedly holds no water.  No one knows how many shirkers are on file here, but the number 20 has  been tossed around the last couple of years. I believe DVs can be removed from 1996 law, but the legal arguments need to be developed more fully, and the big fat arm of Legislative Services needs twisted..  I also believe that the foolishness of OBC access for all but Continue Reading →

Ohio History: Sealed Records Author said "parents don’t have to waste time on heredity"

A few days ago while going over testimony for Ohio’s HB61, I found a most astounding story  from Ohio Birth Parent’s Group leader Kate Livingston.  It was taken from her MA thesis, which documents through primary sources and interviews the involvement of Ohio Right to Life’s big role in the continued sealing of OBCs in the state. (As far as I know Kate’s thesis isn’t online. It should be!) Testifying that the intent in sealing records has never been to protect the “privacy” of relinquishing biological parents Kate quoted Rep, Edward Schumacher, chief sponsor of HB 202, the bill that sealed Ohio’s post-1963 records”.  My bill closes the book on background, which is the way it should be handled. My law gives the child a clear [sic] slate. [Adoptive] Parents start right away providing the child with necessary guidance and direction. They don’t have to waste time on heredity. People lay too  much stress on heredity. It’s advisable for children not to know they’re adopted. If they knew, they’d be seeking to find out why they do certain things. If a kid knows he’s adopted, he has a crutch. ‘Oh, that’s not my fault,’ he’ll say, ‘that’s my [birth] family’s fault.’ I closed the book because knowing isn’t Continue Reading →

Ohio: Hell Freezes Over Again. Ohio Catholic Conference Supports OBC Access

Hell froze over in Ohio last Wednesday for the second time, when The Ohio Catholic Conference endorsed HB61, a bill  to restore the right of unrestricted OBC access to those person adopted in Ohio between January 1, 1964-September 17, 1996.  The access right of those adopted after that date is left high and dry due to the 1996 Disclosure Veto compromise which gives biological parents the special privilege  that no other person has, to bar the state from releasing the OBC.  Ohio Legislative Services  which nitpicks every bill  for legalities that crosses its path in  the Statehouse, won’t let that one go.Yet. Ohio Vital Statistics does not keep track of the number of DVs submitted  but it’s believed to be  a small number, perhaps less than 20.(I”ll be writing more about this later.) You can read Tobin’s testimony here. And,  here’s a picture of the relevant testimony taken by Linda Niehaus, whom I sat with: “…we are pleased to support HB 61.” (Posted with permission of Linda Niehaus)  The hearing started out with a whimper, but ended with a bang (apologies to TS Eliot).  About 45-50 witnesses and supporters from around the state attended.  Due to “floor business” the hearing, scheduled for 3:00 PM didn’t start until nearly 5:00 PM    From past Continue Reading →

Ohio: Hell Freezes Over. Ohio Right to Life Supports OBC Access, March 6, 2013

Hell froze over last Wednesday (March 6, 2013) when Ohio Right to Life, dropped its decades long opposition to OBC access and testified before the House Judiciary Committee  in support of HB61.  We knew earlier that ORTL had dropped its opposition, but its endorsement and testimony came as a surprise. You can read this historical  testimony on the Bastard Nation webpage.  The testimony begins: Some of you may know that for decades, Ohio Right to opposed opening adoption records to adoptees born/adopted between 1964 and 1996. The concerns of privacy and the repercussions for adoptive families, however, are fading with time as cultural perceptions about adoption have changed. Historically, arguments to keep the records closed were based on the idea that it would protect adoptees from potential embarrassment about the circumstances of their birth, or to protect adoptees from unwanted contact from birth parents. Frankly, these are outdated concerns, but it is this rationale that keeps 1964 – 1996 adoptees from being able to access their original birth certificate. Ohio law keeps these records closed, yet when the laws were revisited in 1996, it was decided that all adoptions finalized after that point are open unless parents choose to close their Continue Reading →

Ohio: HB 61 Sponsor Hearing Report- House Judiciary

Wednesday (February 20, 2013) I attended the Ohio House Judiciary Committee Sponsor’s Hearing for HB 61, which would restore the right of OBC access to Ohio adoptees  born between January 1, 1964-September 17, 1996.  Those born after that date currently have access at the age of 21 (at 18 their aparents can access), unless a birthparent has filed a  Disclosure Veto with the state. Ohio Vital  Statistics does not know how many DV’s are on file (!), but the number is probably minuscule   Washington State, which has a similar law, reports only four DVs submitted since 1993, and all of them last year. Lawyer dirty tricks?  Senate Bill, 23 is HB61’s companion bill. . Both have bi-partisan support. Ohio Right to Life, opposed for decades  to OBC access for 1964-1996s, due to its belief that access to those old records would compromise “the state’s promise of anonymity” in adoption; thus causing women  to seek abortions now,  has dropped its opposition. ORTL President Mike Gonidakis told the press recently, “Historically, Ohio Right to Life has opposed efforts to disclose identities of birth parents.That position has thawed, for lack of a better term..” Goindakis credits the Internet with some of the change saying that “you can find Continue Reading →