The state legislature has proposed a way for adoptees to get their original birth certificates.
The bill would allow beginning January 1, 2018, adoptees 18 and older to get their certificates.
Before then, the state will publicize the change being made to Missouri adoption law so that birth parents are made aware.
The bill creates a document birth parents can fill out to say whether they are alright with being contacted. Sponsor Don Phillips (R-Kimberling City) said it offers three options.
“One of is no contact, period. The other is contact with an intermediary source. The third one would be, ‘Yes, I want to be contacted,'” said Phillips. “All three of those have the option of attaching a medical history form which would be very beneficial to any adoptee, whether the birth parent wanted to be contacted or not.”
The bill had broad and bipartisan support, but some including Representative Gina Mitten (D-St. Louis), opposed it out of concern for the privacy of birth parents who put children up for adoption with the understanding that Missouri law would protect their identities.
“To find out at this point that some legislators in Jefferson City have decided to change the rules about [those parents’] privacy rights is unconscionable,” said Mitten.
Representative Bill White (R-Joplin) didn’t like that if a birth parent can’t be reached to give or deny consent, such as in the case of one who has moved out-of-state and might not be exposed to whatever publication will be made of the change, the adoptee will still get the certificate.
“I have great concerns that [parents put children up for adoption] with the understanding that it was a sealed record and now we’re going to unseal that record without … us tracking them down to say it’s okay. I would really like to see it where they have to positively say, ‘Yes, you can.'”
Phillips says adoptees were left out of the decision whether they should be able to find their parents later, and many have a serious need for family medical history. He said many groups who had opposed earlier versions of the legislation were in favor of it after changes made to it in the state Senate.
The proposal goes to Governor Nixon.