Minnesota’s adoptee access bill 2015-2016

HF 2247/ SF 2132
Chief authors: Rep. Melissa Hortman (D), Sen. Michelle Benson (R)
Read full text, see co-authors, and track bills at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=Senate&f=SF2132&ssn=0&y=2015

Bill summary

  • 99.5% of MN-born adult adoptees would be able to receive their original birth certificates by request from Minnesota Department of Health Vital Records.
  • The remaining 0.5% of adoptees who have an affidavit of non-disclosure attached to their birth certificate would have an appeal process through the court.
  • Birthparents will continue to have the option of filing a non-disclosure. (Only 1 non-disclosure was filed during 2010-2014.)
  • Birthparents will be able to state their preference for contact (“Yes, I would like contact”, “No, I do not want contact”, or “Yes I want contact, but through an intermediary.”) This contact preference option has been added to many states that have recently passed access legislation and helps the adoptee know if reconnection is desired and includes a birthparent’s contact information.
This bill is a compromise based upon a series of discussions with stakeholders during Fall-Winter 2014-2015 facilitated by the Citizens League of Minnesota and paid for by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Children’s Home Society of Minnesota (the two largest adoption agencies in the State of Minnesota). The full list of participants and the statement of agreement is viewable at: http://citizensleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/511.Findings-to-Improve-Access-to-Birth-Records-in-Minnesota.pdf   

 

Bill Endorsers:

Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora –  https://afaad.wordpress.com

American Adoption Congress – http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org

Children’s Home Society of MN –  http://www.chsfs.org

Concerned United Birthparents – MN chapter – http://www.cubirthparents.org/twin_cities.php

Evolve Adoption and Family Services –  http://evolveservices.org

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota –  http://www.lssmn.org

Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform – http://mnadoptreform.org

MN Adopt – https://www.mnadopt.org

North American Council on Adoptable Children –  http://www.nacac.org

 

What happens next?

The bill/s were introduced at the end of the first year of the 2015-2016 Legislative session. During the interim (June 2015 -February 2016),  public education and discussion will occur in preparation for action by the legislature in early 2016.

For more information and how you can help

Send an email to:  MnAdoptReform@yahoo.com;

 

 

 

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Why All U.S. States Should Allow Adoptees Access to Their Authentic Birth Certificates

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mirah-riben/why-all-us-states-should-_b_8858162.html

by Mariah Riben

 

 

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Costco Debate on adoptee access to birth records

December 2015 Costco Connection Magazine published results of debate:


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Read about it on pages 10 and 21 in “Costco Connection” magazine that is mailed to Costco members, or see online at: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201512?pg=13#pg13.

 

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Citizens League of Minnesota participates in drafting MN bill

 

           A bill has been introduced in the  2015-2016 Minnesota Legislature as a result of working with the Citizens League of Minnesota from October 2014 to January 2015. Adoption stakeholders in MN participated in discussions that resulted in a consensus agreement and has been endorsed by the following stakeholders:

Participants and the consensus agreement from the Citizens League discussions can be accessed at:
The bill allows the vast majority (99%) of MN adoptees to receive their original birth certificate (without parental permission, paying search fees, or enduring excessive wait times, etc.). The remainder of adoptees who have a Non-disclosure attached to their original birth certificate (0.5%) would have a due process (court option) of appeal.
In addition, birthparents may indicate their contact preference (“Yes to contact”, “No to contact”, “Yes to contact through an intermediary”).
An extensive public information campaign is planned to inform adoptees and birth/first parents of changes to adoption law.  An example of a public information outreach (in Ohio, where adoptees’ access to their birth certificates was restored in 2015) can be viewed at:
This issue affects more than 1,000,000 Minnesota stakeholders in adoption (adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents) plus relatives and friends of stakeholders.
 If you’d like to support efforts to pass this legislation, send an email to: mnadoptreform@yahoo.com
 Also, you can follow MnAdoptReform on Twitter and Facebook
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Veteran’s Day – Adoptees Without Liberty

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November National Adoption Awareness Month

Event November 8 –  “Adoption – In Our Own Words” was fabulous thanks to authors, speakers and co-sponsors American Adoption Congress, AdopteesMN, Concerned United Birthparents (MN), and Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform.

(To see all November National Adoption Month events in Minnesota, click on Events tab above.)

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Adoptee, author, and actor Nikki Abramson does a skit, “Where are you from?”

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Kate St. Vincent Vogl MC’s the Event and shares her journey as an adoptee, mother, and author.

 

 

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Judy Liautaud, author and birthmother, reads from her book, “Sunlight on My Shadow”

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Progress in other states:

16 States currently allow adoptees to access their own original birth certificate (OR, NH, ME, AL, WA, DE, TN, IL, CO, RI, NJ, OH, CT, MT, and Alaska and Kansas which never denied access.)

States that recently passed access legislation:

Connecticut:   July 5, 2015

Montana:  passed April 2015 – became effective 10/1/2015 http://laws.leg.mt.gov/legprd/LAW0210W$BSIV.ActionQuery?P_BILL_NO1=397&P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=HB&Z_ACTION=Find&P_SESS=20151#sed_table

Ohio: March 2015  http://abcnews.go.com/US/daughter-adoption-reunites-mom-decades-searching/story?id=30673509

Colorado  (effective January 1, 2016) https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/adoption

and https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/adoption

Colorado application: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CHED_Form_ApplicationtoRequestanOriginalBirthCertificate_1214.pdf

New Jersey  passed  5/24/14 (effective 2017) http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/05/christie_signs_law_releasing_adoptees_birth_certificates_in_2017.html

 States working on legislation: 

Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Texas, Massachusetts (additional access), Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Missouri.

For more info, see http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org

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Follow on Twitter and Facebook

https://twitter.com/MnAdoptReform

https://www.facebook.com/MnAdoptReform

 

 

 

 

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StarTribune: Letter of the Day (Nov. 23): Antiquated laws

Today is National Adoption Day. The Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform will again be lobbying for the right of adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates. Seventy-four years ago, Minnesota Law 1939, chapter 89, section 1, placed adoptees’ original birth certificates “under seal” and under a culture of shame and secrecy.

Open adoption has demonstrated that both adoptees and birth mothers have a need to know. Secrecy kills.

Antiquated laws? Start with that one.

EUNICE ANDERSON, Burnsville

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/letters/233086581.html

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Minnesota Adoptees Lack Equal Access to Personal History

Minnesota Adoptees Lack Equal Access to Personal History

Two seemingly unrelated stories in the news — marriage equality and Angelina Jolie’s preventive mastectomies — have a connection for some Minnesotans.

Many members of state’s adoption community have sought for decades to regain the right of adult adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates. Our attempts to restore this right, which was taken away in the 1940s under the thought at the time that perpetual sealing of records was in the best interest of the child, have been unsuccessful.

The reasons given for opposing this restoration are based on myth, conjecture and unverifiable fears, and fly in the face of hard data compiled by organizations such as the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, by states that did not seal records away from the party of interest, and by states that have realized the truth that one’s birth certificate belongs to just this party of interest and no one else.

Since 1998, a number of states have reopened records to adopted adults, with more to come every year. While Minnesota may be the 12th state to allow gay marriage, it is certainly not the 12th state to restore a right to a group of people who had no voice in the decision to deny it, no representative present to advocate for them, and no viable way as adults to work around this antiquated, demeaning and, truthfully, dangerous system.

I am an adoptee who nearly died because of a lack of information about my health history, and I am simply one example. In fact, one member of our group is a woman who faced exactly the same situation as Ms. Jolie. Thank God she had found the daughter she had relinquished to adoption decades before, because this daughter and her daughters carry the same gene mutation.

Proponents of maintaining secrecy continue to hold the untrue assumption that we have other fair and equal means to obtain necessary information. This is simply not the case. And herein lies the issue. We are now the only group consistently denied a right given to every other Minnesota citizen. We are the only adults in Minnesota who are systematically denied the chance to protect ourselves, our children and grandchildren from unnecessary risks related to diseases and conditions, and even from unnecessary medical tests.

We are also the only group in Minnesota that is now consistently denied the right to celebrate being who we are, because we are not allowed to know who we are. Never have we sought to legislate reunions with, or ongoing relationships with, our families of origin. These are things that must be worked out between people, just as they are handled among anyone else.

As a side issue: This is a prolife matter as well. As an ardent prolifer and veteran of many years of volunteer service as a crisis pregnancy counselor, I simply cannot understand how a large segment of like-minded people can fail to see the connection between supporting life at its beginnings and following through with supporting life as it is lived by those saved.

Hard data proves that in states with access to original birth records, the abortion rate is lower and the adoption rate higher than the national average. My own experience speaks of this disconnect in a different way, since I have often had young women tell me they’d rather abort a baby than give it to strangers and never see it or know it was OK. Legislation to change access to birth records will help, rather than hinder, life decisions and will change the general perception of adoption for the better.

So, my fellow Minnesotans, please remember adopted adults if you think this state is forward-thinking. What the gay community managed to accomplish in one legislative session, we are still struggling with after over 20 years of effort.

And when you think about Angelina Jolie’s story, think of us. If you are an adoptee, remember that unless you know your history, you can’t know the genetic risks you face.

And, legislators, while you celebrate your giant step toward equality for all, remember us: We’re the ones you continue to keep in the dark regarding our own lives. It’s time to finish what you started, at last. Give us access to our original birth certificates so we can advocate for ourselves and our children — or simply so that we, too, can be equal in Minnesota.

—Gretchen Traylor, of Brooklyn Park, is a retired high school ­special-education teacher, an adoptee, adoptive parent, ­member of an adoption law reform group, and cofounder of an annual retreat to honor birth mothers.

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