Senate Bill 23 HAS PASSED and Is Awaiting the Governor’s Signature!
An amended version of Ohio’s Adoptee Rights Legislation, Senate Bill 23, has passed both in the Ohio House of Representatives (91-2 on Wednesday December 2nd) and the Ohio Senate (unanimously on Wednesday December 11th)!
The bill is on its way to the Governor for his signature for it to become law.
About Substitute Ohio Senate adoptee Rights Bill 23
Ohio Senate Bill 23, were introduced February of 2013. This legislation allows:
- Ohio adoptees adopted 1964 to 1996* access to their Original Birth Certificate upon request at age 18, starting one year from bill enactment date**.
- Ohio birthparents to file a Contact Preference Form specifying if and how they would like contact.
- Ohio birthparents to complete and put on file an updated medical history for the adoptee.
*Adult adoptees from before 1964 in Ohio already have this right, as do the vast majority of adoptees after 1996.
** Enactment is 90 days after the bill is signed, so records will be available one year after that – “Opening Day” is therefore expected in the spring of 2015.
One More Call to Help Ohio Become an Open Records State!
ACTION ALERT: PLEASE DO THIS NOW!
- Contact Governor Kasich encouraging him to sign the bill! Here’s how:
- Online: Click on the following link and fill out the required information. In the message section, be sure to include that you are contacting the office in support of Substitute Senate Bill 23. http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx
- Phone: Call (614) 466-3555. When the office answers – indicate that you are calling in support of recently passed legislation. You will be transferred to an aide. Be sure to let the aide know you are calling in support of Substitute Senate Bill 23. You may be asked your name and contact information, however you do have the option of remaining anonymous.
Understanding Legislative Compromises
Ohio’s original clean bill has been slightly compromised. This is always a huge bone of contention within the Adoptee Rights community, but sadly is the battle that we face again and again. There always seems to be a legislator that just insists on believing the ancient mythology that “we need to protect the privacy of the poor birthmother” and it comes down to adding provisions and getting a bill passed that is not perfect or not getting anything passed at all. Some will say that an Adoptee Rights bill that does not treat every single adoptee equally is just not good enough and some are happy to accept progress. I am not a fan of stupid provisions that “protect” birthmothers, but I do like seeing 99% of the adoptee population in their state finally able to access what is rightfully theirs.What I try to remember is that it is documented that less than 1% of mothers actually every use such features. Yes, I understand this does NOT help the folks that fall into that 1%, but if nothing else at least, if they are denied , they KNOW something about their birth mothers even if it is just that she is terribly damaged in some way.
In addition this bill, the particulars below from Adoption Equity Ohio, only gives a one year window in which a name, only a name, can be whited out. I also know that if this bill did not happen this time around, it probably never will due to the bill calendar and other working agreements that have allowed it get as far as it has.
The amended Substitute version of the bill includes the original contact preference and medical history provisions and adds a 1-year period in which a birthparent can request to have only their name redacted (whited out) from the birth certificate. After the 1 year period has expired, no birthparent may redact and adoptees from ’64-’96 can begin to request their adoption files. This is NOT A DISCLOSURE VETO – all adoptees will receive the contents of their adoption files. Other new provisions include: mandating that birthparents who redact submit a social and medical history form; permitting birthparents to un-redact at any time; adding a mechanism for adoptees to request updates on medical history from birthparents who redacted; and allowing adoptees born in Ohio but adopted out-of-state and adoptees born out-of-state but adopted in Ohio to request their adoption files. While the redaction portion is not what we had hoped for, we are encouraged that, in practice, the sub bill will function in a way that retains the integrity of the bill. We thank Senators Beagle and Burke for fighting a good fight in the Senate.
What I Wonder
Maybe because I am not an adoptee myself, I am too easy on these issues? Or maybe because I have gone head to head with many legislators and I know how cemented they are in their opinions? I do give in and personally see the movement of each and every state as victories. No, it’s still far from perfect, but I know when I talk to said legislators and I get to say the them that there are ten states that have recognized Adoptee Rights, then it gets every more impressive and puts even MORE pressure on them to do something. I personally add disclaimers about the states that are NOT exactly what we hope as words of warning to them and do always push the “clean” states that get it right, but yeah, I go for the glass is half full.
Now of course, an Adoptee Rights bill is supposed to restore the civil rights of an adopted person to access their OBC like a non adopted person, but aside from that, we know that many folks do want their OBC’s as it is a first ( and super helpful) step in acquiring information for an adoption search. In my best lobby voice, I say that’s not the issue and one has nothing to do with the other as a person should have the right to do what they wish with their legal documentation, however, no matter how much we try to keep the issues separated, the legislators, the opposition and the public confuse it anyway .
So, I give a personal hats off for Ohio, Adoption Equity Ohio and all the folks who worked so hard on getting it this far. If you agree with me; please take a moment and contact Governor Kasich encouraging him to sign the bill!