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.

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  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 

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. 

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