Restricted Access–As Bad As It Sounds.


Only 9 U.S. states currently provide adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. While partial access or restricted access might sound as though it’s better than nothing, to me it feels like heartbreak waiting to happen.

Connecticut is one of the most recent partial access states, and here’s how it works:

On June 6, 2014 Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law Public Act 14-133 (House Bill 5144), which restores the right of adoptees adopted after October 1, 1983 to access their original birth certificates upon reaching the age of 18. This law restores the right of access to approximately 24,000 of the 65,000 adoptees who were born in Connecticut since 1919. –FROM THE AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS WEBSITE

If you were adopted after 1983 as a youngster or an infant, chances are your birthparents are still relatively young–or at least still on the planet. Older adoptee’s parents are probably, well, older. Or deceased.

In Delaware, it goes like this:

Birth parents wishing to block release of identifying information must file a written notarized statement to that effect with the Office of Vital Statistics. Such statements must be renewed every three years.

Vital Statistics will make a reasonable effort to notify a birth parent when an adoptee applies for birth records. If no disclosure veto statement is filed, the original birth certificate will be released to the adoptee approximately 65 days after the initial request. –ALSO FROM THE AAC WEBSITE

I confess that I do suffer a tiny bit of ambivalence here. I’m a birthmother. I understand the shame and secrecy element. I just think the right of adoptees to know who they are, where they come from, and what their medical history is trumps the birthparents concerns.

And that’s pretty much how it goes. There are 7 states with partial access or restricted access. It’s depressing to read the details and do the math.

1 thought on “Restricted Access–As Bad As It Sounds.

  1. S. Kay Murphy

    I was just discussing this with my son two nights ago. And my words echoed yours: Yes, I feel sympathy for birth parents who might have kept a secret (as they were told to) all these years, but my son’s right to know his ancestry trumps everything, every situation, especially now as he gets older. He’s 36. Every year his doctor asks him, “Is there any history of…?” He has no answers. How can we change the laws in California? This simply has to change. Has to.
    As always, I appreciate your candor.


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