Sunday, February 27, 2011

SB 351 (Lamping)

        SB 351 has now been filed with the Missouri Senate.  Senator Lamping is the sponsoring legislator.  This Bill, unfortunately, does not include a provision to include the release of original birth certificates but does include most of the provisions included in the House Bill.  This shows that regardless of what we may want to happen,  we have to go with what the legislature will agree to and push that limit.  Let's get this much through and then we can go for more next year.
          If between the two Bills we can at least open the adoption record, most adoptees will be able to learn the name of their birth parents not just the adoptees whose birth parents consent.  They will learn where they lived, where they died, surviving family, etc.  The greater tragedy would be to have nothing happen.  How do I explain to all those adoptees who have been told their birth parents are deceased that this didn't go through and they cannot know?  They are very hopeful at this point. 
         We have to include the adoption record in there somewhere as the original birth certificate is not found in the adoption files and the adoption file includes information obviously not found on the birth certficate.  Also, if a search has been done in the past, this updated birth parent information will be in the adoption file at the Court and provide the information the adoptee is seeking.  It was with the hope that the information would one day be made available that so much is put into the search report. 
          As I know more about the HB and now the SB, I will post.  We are hopeful we can help the legislators understand how the adoptees need this information and it would be a start towards removing the barriers.  Exciting times!
       

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clarification of some points

Some has asked about the "veto power" I mention in the previous blog.  The current statute allows one birth parent to have "veto power" over the other.  This means if a birth mother is anxious to have contact and signs a consent form and the birth father is found but declines to sign a consent form, this stops the connection for the birth mother as well.  This is what I mean by "veto power."   With HB 427 it would allow for the release of information on the consenting birth parent even if the other birth parent (usually the birth father) declines to consent.  There is nothing more frustrating then having a birth mother who wants to connect and an adoptee who wants to connect and being unable to connect them.  In reality, most of these folks do become connected through ISRR or some other registry especially if they are referred to the same reunion registry but taking out this restriction will help from having to use this work around to make it happen.  Efforts are made to communicate with both parties until it is confirmed they have been connected by some method. 

Again, HB 427 would release identifying information from the Court/agency file in every case except if the living birth parent declines.  This too only lasts as long as the birth parent is living.  Even if they have declined to sign a form or have put in writing that they do not want to be contacted, this information can be released once they die. 

The legislators still bring up many issues that there are no simple solutions to.  The hope is that if we can get HB 427 passed, even though it may not be as much as some would like, it would allow the Courts to release information not only to the adoptee with a consenting birth parent (which already occurs) but also those adoptees or their descendants whose birth parents are deceased.  It is very frustrating to get to the end of a search and not be able to provide the information found because the birth parent is deceased and the statute prohibits it's release.  I would love to be able to share with the adoptee the birth parent's name at death, where they lived, where they are buried, etc.  The adoptees, even knowing this is a risk when they start, are also understandably disappointed.  HB 427 would allow for them to be given that information. 

The goal in every search is a reunion between adoptee and birth parent.  With HB 427, if the bp is deceased, it would at least allow for the connection with the birth family.

Hopefully this helps to clarify.  We are anxious to help the legislators understand why we need these changes in order to allow for the release of information in so many more cases.  Already, I am thinking of all the adoptees I would be able to contact to let them know of the changes and they can now know the information they were not able to have before. 

The goal in this attempt was to get SOMETHING passed.  Asking for too much or too big a change never seems to get very far so the thought was to see how far the legislature WOULD go.  Next time we can ask for a little more....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

HB 427 to Committee

HB 427 (Barnes) has been sent to the Judiciary Committee and I would assume a hearing will be scheduled soon.  Here is the link to the main Bill page.
 http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB427&year=2011&code=R


For those who may not be familiar with this, HB 427 would revise the current adoption record's statute and increase the amount of information provided at the conclusion of a search as well as release the original birth certificate to adoptees in most instances even if no official search had been conducted. 


Here are the highlights of the Bill stating the current situation or barrier and the proposed solution through the passage of this Bill.


Currently, unless you were born after 1986, all adoptees are required to obtain their adoptive parent's written permission before the request of a search will be granted by the Court.  For example, if you are 60 years old and your adoptive parents are still alive, they have to sign a form stating that you can search.  HB 427 would remove the adoptive parent consent requirement for all adoptees over the age of 18.


At the conclusion of a search, if the birth parent provides their consent, their identifying information is provided to the adoptee and first contact is arranged.  If the birth parent is found to be deceased, no identifying information can be released to the adoptee as no written consent is able to be obtained.  HB 427 would allow for the release of identifying information if the birth parent is found to be deceased, even if they previously declined to sign a consent form. 


The current statute states that identifying information can only be released regarding birth parents who are deceased if it is found to be needed for "urgent medical need."  This is very open to interpretation by the Courts and rarely is something found to be "urgent" enough.  This then is a barrier to information.  This clause is removed in an effort to remove the barrier and if the information is to be released anyway if the birth parent is found to be deceased, it is a mute point and so is removed.


HB 427 removes the veto power of one birth parent over the other at the conclusion of a search.  In current searches, if the birth mother agrees to the release of her identifying information to the adoptee but the birth father says no to releasing his information, this stops it for both of them.  HB 427 would allow for the release of information on the consenting birth parent but respect the wishes of the other birth parent and not release their name.


HB 427 adds the ability of a "lineal descendant" of the adoptee to request information or a search if the adoptee is deceased themselves.  If your great grandfather was adopted, you would be able to request and receive his identifying information. 


One big thing that is also included in HB 427 is the ability to request and receive a copy of the adoptee's original unamended birth certificate.  This is not a legal birth certificate for things such as getting your passport or drivers license but a representation of who you were before adoption.  HB 427 would allow for the release of the original birth certificate from Vital Records in the same cases as the release of information would be allowed, if the birth parent provided written consent or is found to be deceased.  This includes the "lineal descendant" of an adoptee if the adoptee is deceased.  Currently, no adoptee is allowed to have a copy of their original birth certificate even if the birth parent provides written consent.


For some, the passage of this Bill would be the equivalent to winning the lottery.  If an adoptee has been prohibited from knowing the identity of their birth parent because the birth parent is deceased, this will allow them to finally know the information.  It would allow those adoptees who have reunited with their birth parent to request and obtain a copy of their original unamended birth certificate. 


Now you ask, how can I help to make this a reality for Missouri adoptees?  Contact Rep. Jay Barnes  Jay.Barnes@house.mo.gov  to let him know you support this Bill.  Also, if you are willing, contact the persons on the Judiciary Committee to let them know of your support.  Here is the link to the list of Judiciary Committee members
http://www.house.mo.gov/committeeindividual.aspx?com=29&year=2011&code=R 


Pass the word along so the public and adoptees are aware of this Bill and how it will help them obtain information so long denied. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

HB 427 Legislative Update

Spent the afternoon in Jefferson City yesterday speaking with legislators and lobbyists regarding this Bill.  It has now been filed, read a second time and sent to the Judiciary Committee.   A hearing should be scheduled soon.

We (the cause) seem to be well received especially when it is explained how things are handled now in the search process and the current limitations.  HB 427 would resolve most of those barriers to adoptee's receiving information.  There are still many who feel it doesn't do enough and while we may agree or disagree, the current proposed revision would be like WINNING THE LOTTERY for so many.  Those adoptees who know that their birth parents are deceased, and as a result are not eligible to receive information, would be able to.  Those adoptees who, for various reasons, do not feel able to approach their adoptive parents for the required signature, would be able to request information without having to broach this subject with them. 

Hopefully the folks who feel the need to stir things up, will realize this and not mess things up for those who just want to know the information.  We have to take things a step at a time especially with the legislature.  They have proven that they will not go for big changes all at once.  We have to ask, what CAN we get passed and then go from there. 

If HB 427 passes, it would basically mean open records for adoptees unless the birth parent declines to consent.  But if they do consent (as they can now) or if they are deceased, the information will be made available including the updated information found in the search.  I think that sounds WONDERFUL. 

The Rep who is sponsoring the Bill is Rep. Jay Barnes.  His email address is Jay.Barnes@house.mo.gov   Please let him know you support this Bill. 

On the Senate side, we are still hopeful and I will provide more info as it becomes available to me.

Have a great day everyone.   

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HB 427

Alleluia, we now have a number!  HB 427.   It was filed by Rep. Jay Barnes and will hopefully be matched with a Senate bill soon.
I am looking into contact information for this Rep so we can show our support of this proposed legislation.   It is not available online yet but should be soon.  To keep track, visit the Missouri government web site and in the Bill search box, type "adoption records" and it should pull up HB 427.  Eventually, it will have the full Bill text. 

Basically, the new law would allow for the request of a search without requiring adoptive parent permission, release of identifying information if the birth parent is deceased, removes the veto power of one birth parent over the other, and release of the original birth certificate in cases where the birth mother consents or is deceased.   It continues to offer birth parents the ability to remain anonymous, if they so choose. 

Let us lobby for this one folks!