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Restoring Adoptee Rights in Ohio for All

BREAKING NEWS!

Adoption Circle is thrilled to announce that Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 23 yesterday, giving an estimated 400,000 adult adoptees born in Ohio between 1964 and 1996 access to their original birth certificates starting March 2015!

In the article below, The Columbus Dispatch confirmed the much anticipated Substitute Senate Bill 23 has been approved by the Governor and will not only bring much-needed consistency to Ohio’s adoption laws, but will also allow for the equality of Ohio adoptees to access their birth records, regardless of the year they were born. 

With law, all Ohio adoptees get access to records

The Columbus Dispatch
By Catherine Candisky
December 20, 2013

For decades, adoptees and their supporters have fought for access to their birth records.

Like-minded lawmakers have introduced numerous bills in the General Assembly over the years, but all were doomed by opposition from anti-abortion forces, including the influential Ohio Right to Life. Those groups feared it would promote abortion because fewer women would opt for adoption if their identities weren’t kept private.

But yesterday, Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life and the father of two adopted children, was among those celebrating as Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill giving an estimated 400,000 adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.

“Times have changed so much,” Gonidakis said. “Now there is the Internet and Google, and you can find out all sorts of things about people in 10 minutes.”

Senate Bill 23, approved unanimously by the Senate and by a 91-2 vote in the House, will allow those adopted between January 1964 and September 1996 to obtain their adoption files from the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, just like those adopted before and after those dates can.

“This was the seventh bill in 25 years,” said Betsie Norris, executive director of the Adoption Network Cleveland.

“I’m still in the ‘you’ve-got-to-pinch-me’ phase. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Ohio Right to Life’s support was the tipping point in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, she said.

“It was huge,” Norris said. “They took out a lot of the concerns. I never saw it as an abortion issue, but because they had opposed it in the past made it a hot potato.”

Right to Life had opposed such legislation for 40 years, long before Gonidakis joined the organization. When adoption supporters came to him a year ago to encourage the organization to reconsider, he said he couldn’t think of a good reason to continue opposing the bill. He spoke to his board members and they agreed.

“It’s become a non-issue, and it’s just the right thing to do,” he said.

It also created one of those rare times that abortion foes found themselves on the same side as abortion-rights supporters such as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. The two groups did not coordinate their efforts, but both testified at legislative hearings in favor of the bill.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows at times,” Gonidakis said.

Under the new law, records will be available starting in March 2015. There will be a one-year waiting period after the bill becomes law in 90 days to give parents an opportunity to request that their names be redacted from the birth certificates given to the adoptees. Those who do so still must give detailed medical histories that will be available to the adoptees.

The bill also closes a perplexing gap in Ohio law for adoptees born from 1964 to 1996 who have been caught between two laws.

Original birth certificates in Ohio adoptions before 1964 already are available to adult adoptees. In September 1996, the law was changed to allow those adopted from that date forward access to their birth certificates upon reaching age 21, unless the birth parent asked not to be identified.

Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, the sponsor of the House version of the bill, said Right to Life’s support and an amendment to the bill giving birth mothers the opportunity to have their names redacted were key to the bill’s passage.

“We’ve worked so tirelessly for 25 years. I was very emotional” at the bill signing, she said. “ I have been a family lawyer for 31 years, having represented both birth mothers and adoptees, and our youngest child is adopted, and I know how important that document is to her.”

ccandisky@dispatch.com

@ccandisky

Source:  The Columbus Dispatch“With law, all Ohio adoptees get access to records”.