Last updated: January 04. 2014 10:32PM - 765 Views
Ryan Carpe Staff Writer

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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.

“A lot of people that I’ve spoken over the years have expressed a desire to know who they are and where they came from,” said said Becky James, Darke County Jobs and Family Services Social Services Administrator. “This particular law will allow them a mechanism to do that.”

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.

Under the legislation, biological parents will still have the ability to seal records if they wish their information to be protected.

But the law gives wider accessibility for adoptees looking to address existent medical ailments, or arm themselves with knowledge for their progeny.

“Sometimes people just want medical records because of their current conditions, or they’re having children or grandchildren and are wanting to know their history,” said James. “I think it will help them find answers, or maybe some medical information that will help them make good choices for themselves and their children”

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.

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