Adoptees’ bid for access to birth certificates stirs debate

This was originally posted in the Associated Press.

This May 13, 2017 photo shows Larry Dell at the opening of an art exhibition he curated in Livingston, N.J. Dell, 68, grew up in New York City with parents he loved. He learned only nine years ago that he had been adopted as an infant, and that he was one of five siblings in his birth family. “It was a shock to learn that, and the bigger shock was when I couldn’t find out who my birth parents were,” he said. (Jane Dell via AP)

Back in 2000, Oregon and Alabama acted to ensure that people who’d been adopted could get access to their original birth certificates. Advocates of that goal, calling it an overdue recognition of basic rights, hoped the trend would sweep through the nation.

It didn’t happen. The momentum slowed amid fights over personal privacy and other divisive issues. Today, just nine states give adoptees unrestricted access. Others provide limited access. And there’s no systematic access at all in about 20 states, including the four most populous — California, Texas, Florida and New York.

“After Oregon, after Alabama, we thought, ‘Wow, we’re on a roll. These laws are going to topple.’ And then we had to wait years,” said Marley Greiner, co-founder of the adoptee-rights organization Bastard Nation.

Read the entire AP article here.


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