2010 was a year when two large population states achieved success with access legislation. While Oregon, New Hampshire, and Maine, and a handful of other states have reversed sealed records laws, thus far the larger states have been stymied. The legislative battle has gone on for 30 years.
In Illinois, the pursuit of legislation lasted fourteen years, with success finally achieved on May 21, 2010, when the bill was signed into law by Governor Quinn. Members of reform groups who only approve of ‘clean legislation’ (laws which release the records to adoptees without protections for birthparents needing privacy) have lambasted the Illinois bill. But the early statistics suggest that the vast majority of adopted citizens in Illinois will be able to receive their birth certificates. The first record was received by an adoptee in August 2010. Adoptees born before 1946 were able from that day forward to get their original birth certificates. Those adoptees born after 1946 were finally able, on November 15th, 2011, to submit applications for their obc’s. Because of the small staff the state can provide for this service (due to severe budget cuts) the wait for records is currently taking months – but the vast majority of Illinois’ 350,000 adopted citizens now have the right to receive the original accurate record of their birth.
To date, approximately 440 birthparents have asked to have their names redacted (removed) from the record before its released. This accounts for just one eighth of one percent – of all available records.
Open Birth Records
The Times of Trenton, editorial 6/16/2010
N.J. Assembly Committee Approves Bill Unsealing Adoptee’s Birth Records
Star-Ledger story 6/14/2010
Myth or Truth?
Facts about Adoptees’ Birthright Legislation
Pam Hasegawa: Testimony on the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill in NJ
This excerpt from Pam’s testimony to the NJ Assembly on June 14, 2010, addresses the issue expressed by the opposition that birth parents were guaranteed privacy, either statutorily or by expectation, from the children they gave birth to and the adoptive parents. As Pam poignantly articulates in her testimony, it is clear upon examination of the law that a birth parent’s right to life-long anonymity from their son or daughter was never a part of New Jersey policy.
This clip is a must see for anyone trying to understand what current state policies are and why they were enacted in the first place.