On March 20, 2015 Ohio’s new “open records law” went into effect. The law, in theory closed the gap between those adopted before January 1, 1964 who had unrestricted access to their original birth certificates and those born between January 1, 1964 and September 18 1996 who had to depend on the judicial miracle of a court order to get their OBCs. It did not effect the current law which permits the adoptive parents of Ohio adoptees born on or after September 18,1996 to access the OBC when the adoptee turns 18 or the adoptee herself when she reaches the age of 21 unless a Disclosure Veto is filed by a birthparent. This DV, authorizes the state to withhold the release of the OBC and is a story for another day.
But there was a catch to this new law. Although it supposedly “leveled the playing field”, giving access to all those born between those dates it provided a one year window of opportunity for birthparents (for all intents and purposes, birthmothers) to file an application for redaction, which would order the state to redact her (or his) name from the OBC before release.to the adopted adult.
Proponents of the law, though not pleased with this spanner in their work, readily took their last minute compromise with the bromide, “but nobody will do that.” knowing full well that somebody would. By the time OBCs were released in March, 115 Ohio adoptees (and possibly more) had been slapped with redactions. 115 people out of the 400,000 adoptees whose OBSs opened that day, were still barred by law from a true and accurate copy of their state-generated OBCs. Instead they got mutilations. The law’s proponents and pimps remained silent on this abrogation of their constituents’ civil rights while blasting out happy dappy reunion porn to local, state, and national media. The incurious media either didn’t know or didn’t care about the Left Behinds stuffed and abandoned in their blackhole.
And little did the Left Behinds, already humiliated and ostracized by the new law and their own biological parents, realize they were about to get screwed by the state some more.
Not content with simply removing birthparents’ names from birth certificates, the Department of Health, Vital Records took the redaction mandate a few steps south When requests came in from The Redacted, somebody made the decision to go beyond the law and black out not only the name of the birthparent but other birthparent “identifying information”: the original last name of the adoptee, and the birthparent’s address at the time of birth–all out of compliance of the law.,
Megan Collins is one of The Redacted. Unlike the others who hang their heads in despair, and don’t want to dirty their hands in the pig sty that passes for adoption politics in Ohio, Megan ran with it.
Last month. I re-posted Megan’s essy, Black Boxes along with a picture of her over-mutilated OBC. Since then she has continued to be stonewalled not only by the State of Ohio, but by the bill’s proponents at Adoption Network Cleveland/ROAR and even their professional lobbyist who have warned her… No, not the right word– attempted to bully and blackmail her– threatening that if makes a fuss, the folks at Vital Records, will fuss back taking a hardline against fixing their foul-up for her and everybody else.
Megan has been busy lining up her ducks and is prepared to release documents to prove her allegations.
The story is about to break open.
Tonight, then, I thought it would be helpful and preemptive to see just what the law does and does not mandate and how it is promoted on the official ODH/VR website.
Mandates redaction of the birthparent’s name and nothing else
(a) Have the form placed in the adoption file of the biological parent’s offspring so that the biological parent’s name is redacted from a copy of the contents of the adoption file that a person receives under section 3107.38 of the Revised Code;
(b) Have the form removed from the adoption file if the biological parent later decides to permit the biological parent’s name to be included in a copy of the contents of the adoption file that a person receives under section 3107.38 of the Revised Code.
(1) Until one year after the effective date of this section, the department of health shall make a biological parent’s name redaction request form available to a biological parent on request. The department may accept a completed biological parent’s name redaction request form only if all of the following apply:
(d) If a social and medical history for the biological parent was not previously prepared or such a history was prepared but should be corrected or expanded, the biological parent does the following as appropriate:
(2) If the department determines that it may accept the biological parent’s name redaction request form, it shall accept the form. As soon as the department identifies the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains, it shall place the form in that file.
(1) A biological parent who has a biological parent’s name redaction request form accepted under division (C) of this section may request at any time that the department remove the form from the adoption file of the adopted person to whom the form pertains. The department shall remove the form from the adoption file if the biological parent provides the department all of the following:
Added by 130th General Assembly File No. 56, SB 23, §1, eff. 3/20/2014 to the extent this section applies to biological parent’s name redaction request forms prescribed under section 3107.391 of the Revised Code; 3/20/2015 for all other purposes.
The ODH/VR website – Impact of Ohio’s New Adoption Law – Adoptions Finalized Between January 1, 1965-September 18, 1996
Redaction of the birthparent’s name upon request and nothing else
Starting now the biological parents can complete and submit a Birth Parent Information Packet which contains: a Contact Preference Form, Social/Medical History Form and an Application for the Release of the Adopted Name. Below you will find detailed information as to the purpose of each form.
- The Contact Preference Form will allow the biological parent to state how they would like to be contacted if the adoption file is released. They can choose direct contact, contact through an intermediary or no contact at all. This form is advisory only and not enforceable. It does not ensure that contact will or will not be made. The Social/Medical History Form is not required with this form, but is urged to be completed.
- The Social and Medical History Form will allow the biological parents to update any social and medical information they wish for the adoptee or any lineal descendants to be aware of.
- The Application for Release of Adopted Name form will allow the adopted child’s name to be released to the biological parents in the event that an adopted child has submitted an Authorization of Release of Adopted Name form (HEA 3036).
Please click here to obtain the Birth Parent Information Packet which includes instructions on completing the forms.
*** Any prior releases submitted before March 20, 2014, by the Birth Parent or Biological Sibling will be merged into the adoption file. The biological parent and/or sibling release forms are not required before the adoption file can be opened. ODH cannot add other types of correspondence, such as letters or photos, to the sealed adoption file. Any additional materials will be returned to the sender.***
*** The law provided that the Biological Parent of an adoptee could submit a Redaction Form in the event they did not want their name released with the adoptee’s original birth certificate. This form was effective until March 19, 2015 and will no longer be accepted. ***
ODH/VR Website – The Video
Redaction of the birthparent’s name and nothing else
Walking Through Ohio’s New Adoption Records Law, a film by Jean Strauss produced by Adoption Network Cleveland in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Health with a grant from the Cleveland Foundation. 6:00-7:10 for redaction information.
Ohio’s new OBC access law while reprehensible is clearly and strongly worded. There is no doubt as to what gets cut and what doesn’t. Only the name of the birthparent can be redacted. What possible benefit can these shenanigans, then, bring to OHD/VR? The agency is fully covered from legal liability regarding the release of the OBC and the information it contains. They had an entire year to work out any questions and kinks they might have. Andthey certainly know what the laws says since they’re promoting the actual law, not their own practice, on their website. What can these shenanigan bring ANC/ROAR? Why are the law’s proponents trying to contain and shut-up Megan Collins? Why aren’t they fighting the additional restrictions that do not appear in the law like any genuine activists would? Why are they kissing up to VR? Are they more interested in happy reunion stories on Facebook than on the rights of Ohio adoptees?
I have read a good part of Megan’s documentation on her trip through Ohio adoption hell. It’s real. None of this makes any sense, not even in the bizarro world of adoption politics. What is really going on?
The situation in Ohio shows exactly why compromise in OBC access should never be acceptable. You never know what you’ll get. Or who’s your friends.