Adoptees tired of having to fight for information

If one lawmaker has her way, adopted persons will have an easier time proving who they are.

House bill 509 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on April 3. The bill would allow adoptees over the age of 18 to acquire their original birth certificates as easily as an persons who have not been adopted.

Bill sponsor Rep. Connie Johnson (D-St. Louis) said she decided to sponsor the bill after talking to a client who told her the troubles adoptees have to go through to attain original birth certificates.

Currently, to attain an original birth certificate, for purposes other than medical an adoptee must get a court order, which requires written consent from both birth parents.

Nancy Bennett, adoptee, said she found out at the age of 48 that she could not trace her heritage using her birth certificate without written permission from her birth mother, even though she is dead. Bennett testified that she couldn’t even receive an original birth certificate with the death certificates of both her birth parents and both of her adopted parents because the original judge is retired.

“This is about adults,” said Laurie Bell, adoptee. “This isn’t about protecting the confidentiality of parents, or the feelings of children. It’s about giving adults the right to attain their original birth certificates.”

Bell said another problem is that rights are only given to birth mothers and their children. Her father looked for her for years but was unable to obtain any documents leading to his daughter because he had no rights saying he was entitled to those documents.

Bell also brought up the increasing security related to identity.

“There will be huge hassles attaining IDs starting next year,” Bell said.

But this isn’t the first time the bill has come to the House. Johnson said she knows of at least seven other times the bill has been shot down, and several of the witnesses said they have testified for this bill before because of how much it means to them.

“Truth brings closure to all parties involved in adoption,” Bennett said.