DARKE COUNTY - On Dec. 19, Governor John R. Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 23, which gives adults adopted between January 1964 and September 1996 access to their original birth records.
In addition to providing access to their original birth records, many adoptess will be able to view important medial records and biological family history.
And in some cases, the information could lead many adoptees to make contact with their birth parents.
This is the sixth bill in 25 years that has attempted to address this issue in Ohio.
Adoption Network Cleveland founder and Executive Director Betsie Norris has been working tirelessly on this cause since founding the organization in 1988.
Norris said in a statement, “Birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents and adoption scholars and professionals all testified in favor of this bill. There was no stated opposition, and we are also thrilled that the bill had such overwhelming support in the Ohio Legislature.”
“This is a good thing for individuals who wish to know who they were and where they came from,” said James. “And they can get that information as long as they fall within those dates and the parents did not wish to have those records sealed.”
According to estimates from the Ohio House of Representatives, the bill will give an estimated 400,000 Ohioans adopted between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996 access to their official records, such as their birth certificates.
“All adoptees have a birth right to access all the pieces of the puzzle of their lives,” said State Representative Nickie Antonio in a statement. “Access to medical history is of the utmost importance to adoptees and their families.”
However the legislation does not make the affected birth records available until the spring of 2015 because of a year window with an additional 90-day enactment period.
Original birth certificates in Ohio adoptions prior to 1964 are currently available to those adult adoptees under current law. In September 1996, Ohio law changed to allow adoptees adopted from that date forward access to their birth certificates upon reaching age 21, or to their adoptive parents when the adoptee reaches age 18, unless the birth parent has asked not to be identified. The current legislation does not affect the laws governing these other time periods.
The bill was introduced in the Ohio Senate and sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle of Tipp City, where passed unanimously on Dec. 4 and was sent to the House. From there, it went on to pass 88-2 on Dec. 11.