Opening Ohio’s adoption records
Although my birth father and I reunited nearly 40 years after I was adopted in Youngstown, Ohio, I still do not own or have access to my original birth certificate. Because other Ohio adoptees also desire ownership of their birth certificates, the law may soon make that happen. With the recent introduction of Ohio House Bill 61 and Ohio Senate Bill 23, legislation would now allow Ohio adoptees access to their original birth certificates, as well as allow birth parents the option to be contacted or not.
ROAR! (Restore Ohio Adoptees Rights in 2013) has been the catalyst to make Ohio Bills HB61 and SB23 become law. ROAR! was founded to help change Ohio’s outdated adoptee laws and to allow Ohio adoptees born between 1964 and 1996 access to their original birth certificates and records. Due to ROAR!’s hard work, many Ohio legislators have sponsored the Adoptee Bills and are now moving into the next phase of law. Ohio’s Right to Life organization has even reconsidered their past stance and is now a sponsor of the 2013 Adoptee Bills!
Recently, many adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption professionals, and adoptees all testified that to deny adoptees access to their original birth certificates is to deny them of their human rights. Imagine not having access to your medical history, or being denied a relationship with your siblings, or having difficulty forming your identity. This is the reality that many adopted persons experience today and will continue to face without the passing of Ohio Adoptee Bills HB61 and SB23.
More information on this legislation is available at Adoption Equity Ohio’s website, www.adoptionequityohio.org.
April E. Topfer, PhD, Berkeley, Calif.
The writer is president of PACER-adoption in Northern California and a psychologist.