The hearing for SB351 in the Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for Wednesday at 12 noon. This will be with the same committee that we spoke to about HB427 so I am not sure as to our success or not. There are still many on the committee who are not shy about asking why adoptees should find out anything at all about their birth parents much less the changes we are asking. We ask for much and they wittle it down to almost nothing. Sigh.
However, we have been given assurances that we will be heard and that the committee will rule on it by days end on Wednesday. HB427 had a hearing but has yet to be voted on in committee. My fear was that they would give us a hearing for appearances sake but would not really take it seriously and allow for a vote.
If SB351 were to pass committee and to go to the House floor and get approved there, we have a good chance of it becoming law. While it would not remove the current search system, it would allow for the Courts to be able to release more information at the conclusion of any searches that happen in the future as well as allow for the release of information in past searches where the birth parents were found to be deceased. While I would not personally be able to release the info to adoptees, it will be my pleasure to contact the adoptees for whom I have done a search in the past to let them know of this new legislation and that they are now able to receive the information they were not allowed previously.
This will help many adoptees, even those who never did a search but know from another source that their birth parent is deceased. They may have done a search on their own and think they have the info but would love to have verification of it and/or to just see the names in writing on a piece of paper. This is not an unreasonable request. My reason for being active in this cause is because I have 12 years of being frustrated at the limitations placed on what can be released at the end of a search especially in cases where the birth parent is found to be deceased. Those searches for folks who either know their information so there is no Court involvement or their adoption was not a Missouri adoption have the luxury of learning all there is to know from the search with no limitations. I would love to have the same freedom to release information in Missouri searches as well.
My purpose for working on this is for the benefit of Missouri adoptees and their descendants. The argument of what "should" be allowed may be valid in the minds of many but the legislature has proven over and over that they will not go for a radical change in the records law. We tried to get the OBC added from this point on in HB427. That Bill stalled in committee and they won't even vote on it because of the OBC issue. So in the SB we left that part out and concentrated on the other three issues, the adoptive parent signature requirement, the ability to release on deceased birth parents, and the ability of lineal descendants to request a search.
On the Senate floor, an amendment had to be added before it would be approved. Now that the SB is on the House side, it is my fear that even more modifications will have to be made in order for it to get the approval of the committee. These are concessions that have to be made to get even a sliver of the original Bill through. Politics does not equal common sense in many cases. But we have to play the game or we do not get to play at all.
Please contact your Missouri Rep or the Rep for the district where your adoption records are and ask them to look into SB351 and to encourage the committee members to vote it "Do Pass." Then ask them to vote for it's passage when it comes before them on the House floor.
This will not provide me financial gain in any way as some have said. The time spent contacting former clients will actually cost me money but it will be done with an eager attitude and the joy to inform them of the change in the statute.
It will help adoptees feel like the system really can work for them as they will be able to learn the identifying information on their birth parents in almost all cases except where the birth parent is alive and refuses to release their name. However, they will be informed that this refusal only lasts during their lifetime and will be allowed to be released after their death.
Of course, this is only true if the SB passes into law. I am still keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer for a positive outcome on Wednesday.