Bill would open future Missouri adoption records

Sunday, January 31, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Adoptees are urging Missouri lawmakers to grant them greater access to their birth and medical records, casting their cause in terms of the civil rights movement.

Currently adoptees born in Missouri must go through the court system or get consent from their birth mother to get their official birth certificate.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow some adopted after Aug. 28 total access to their birth and medical records once they turn 18. The bill would also give birth parents the choice of whether they want to be contacted by their adult child or to communicate through a third party.

People adopted before Aug. 28 would only have access to available medical history. The state registrar would still have to attempt to contact the birth mother for permission to release the original birth certificate.

Every other Missouri citizen has complete access to their birth certificate, said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rita Heard Days.

"People who are adopted should not be a separate class of people," Days, D-St. Louis, said.

For $15, Missourians can obtain a birth certificate through the state Division of Vital Statistics or through their local health department. Adoptees have to get permission before they can get access.

Missouri is one of 26 states to require a court order for adoptees to get access to their original birth certificate. Four states — Alabama, Alaska, Maine and Oregon— allow adult adoptees to request their records. Twenty other states stipulate some form of consent or eligibility requirements.

"We are made second-class citizens for something we adoptees had nothing to do with," adult adoptee Bob Haight said during a Senate health committee hearing earlier this week. "I'm 60 years old, they are in their 80s, if they die before signing an affidavit I have no proof I was ever born."

Supporters say having access to medical records could give adoptees the chance to prepare for genetic medical problems.

Ann Padmos told the committee that when she gave her baby up for adoption at age 19 she didn't know she would get breast cancer twice or that she would become diabetic. Padmos said she eventually reconnected with her son, and now he has the opportunity to warn his daughters of the family history.

The bill would give birth parents the option of filling out a report that would list chronic diseases, allergies and other medical information.

Similar legislation has been proposed in both chambers for several years, but has not made it past the committee level.

Tyler McClay, a spokesman for the Missouri Catholic Conference, said child placement agencies are better suited to reconnecting parents and adopted children.

The current Department of Social Services adoption registry does not have the same resources as the agencies, he said.

The state registry connects adoptees with their birth families if both parties request it. Less than 50 people a year reconnect with family members this way, according to the department.

McClay said he supports a House bill that lets adult adoptees request a copy of their birth certificate and lets child placement agencies attempt to contact the birth parents.

Days said it can cost up to $500 to have a private child placement agency do the search, and it is less expensive for the state to charge adoptees for making the inquiries.


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Karen Belanger February 1, 2010 | 9:39 a.m.

Adoptees should have the same rights as the every other citizen of this country the right to our original birth certificate. Do not continue to penalize the children and future adults you are trying to "protect". If we teach our children to tell the truth then first we must tell it to them.

(Report Comment)
Heather Dodd February 6, 2010 | 8:40 a.m.

Thank you Karen! Honesty is the best policy. My mother was "protected" by the state from her siblings. Fortunately, we were able to do some detective work over a span of many years and find her siblings. I'm still trying to figure out what they were protecting her from. They were adopted when there mom passed away. It's not like they were taken away because of abuse or drugs or anything. Many of the adoptees who cannot get there information were put up for adoption due to their mothers undying love for them. Many birth parents are and were faced with this decision due to lack of income. Is that a crime, do we need to protect adopted adults from having their natural family because the family was disadvantaged?

Yes it is true that not all reunions end on a happy note, but most of them do. For the ones that don't, they are adults who can decide for themselves if they want to continue contact with their natural family. Just like those of us who grew up with our natural family and decide who to keep in touch with.

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Wanda Hutson March 8, 2011 | 12:54 p.m.

I was born in Missouri in 1951. I'm 60 years old. My male sibling and I were adopted at age 10 & 11. Four of us were taken to Nebraska Childrens Home (Omaha) after the State of Nebraska terminated parental rights and then two of us were placed with an older couple who lived in North Platte, with the other two placed at Stapleton. Within a short time after being placed with this older couple, it was clear we (my brother and I) were not wanted. In a fit of rage, the adoptive mother told us she only said yes to adopting us because it was a last chance to save her marriage. We endured much physical and mental abuse for the next five years. I was able to leave only after contacting bio maternal grandparents who let my bio mother know my situation was dire and I went before the juvenile judge, with a lawyer she hired, @ Goodland, Kansas, and was allowed to leave and actually live with my bio mother. Those were five years I'd rather forget but every time I have to put down my maiden name, it reminds me of that bad time in my life. So I use my birth name. Even filling out an application for a passport brought me to an angry stand still this past year. These people died in '84 and '85. They haven't been a part of my life for 44 years.

Even my bio parents are now dead. Who would it hurt for me to have my original birth certificate? How can I eliminate or un-do that adoption? Do I hire an attorney in Missouri to oveturn an adoption that took place in Nebraska? Laws need to change, to catch up with the times. I hope this bill does pass. I'll be watching so I can apply for my original birth certificate. I'm entitled to it. I feel punished for something I had no control over. C'mon Missouri legislators, do the right thing!!! Open it up!

(Report Comment)
Lisa Rucker March 24, 2011 | 10:49 p.m.

My name was changed after i was adopted and is now Lisa Rucker. My opinion on this is how do u really know who u r without knowing where u come from and who ur parents r?? If ur parents sign over their rights when u are adopted then u should be able to find out whatever u want about them. i was adopted and went through complete hell growing up with mental and physical abuse, and if we told anyone it only got worse. Come to find out our wonderful state didn't run checks on her like they shoul because she was manic depressiant, paranoid, and an alcohlic... great combination. Anyways I think we should be treated like everyone else inthis world. I have 2 little girls and I am 24 yrs old, so yes I had them when I was young. I am not saying I agree with or disagree with adoption, but if parents put their child or children up for adoption then they should be willing or be required to answer questions and provide any information that the adoptee might now. This way we r not sitting there thinking the worst and thinking that we did something to make our parents not want us. I am searching for my birth parents and family to this day, and not a day goes by that I don't wonder where I come from or if my parents r searching for me too... Please pass this... I think it should be a law that we get to know anything we wanna know... if they sign their rights away when we r adopted why should they get to choose if we have the rights to learn about them???? Not all reunions end well and we all know that before we ever begin lookin for birth parents or siblings, but at least we know that we tried and we have some sense of closure and some answers instead of pondering all the what ifs, could have, or might have beens. At least we know instead of wondering forever.... My kids ask me all the time about where my parents r but the y r still to little to understand, but I will explain it to them when they get older.... I think passing this would help more people than it would hurt, please please pass this!!!!! Give som of us some piece of mind...

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