Proposed Legislation May Give Adult Adoptees Birth Parents’ Names

This was originally published in Spectrum News.

AUSTIN, Texas – In Texas, not all adopted children have access to their original birth certificate, which could leave them in the dark regarding their family history. That mean adoptees might not know things ranging from their genealogy to family medical problems.

But that could soon be changing.

Two bills being debated in the House and Senate would make it easier for adopted adults to access their birth records, including a birth certificate with their biological parents’ names once they turn 18.

Some say this unfairly outs the biological parents and might even discourage adoptions, but advocates for the bills say their passage would be a big step forward for adoptees.

“Growing up adopted, being party to a closed adoption, there were a lot of concerns I had,” said Marci Purcell of the group Support Texas Adoptee Rights.

Purcell says she didn’t know little things, like her heritage, or big things, like the origins of her medical conditions.

“I didn’t know if they were birth defects. I didn’t know if they were inherited,” Purcell said.

Although Purcell was eventually able to connect with her birth parents, thanks to laws in her home state of New Jersey, she thinks the process in Texas could, and should, be easier.

Currently, adult adoptees in the state are only able to access non-certified birth certificates unless they get a court order. Under proposed legislation, adoptees would be able to automatically access the originals.

“I just think that this is as unfair or as bad as what we already have,” said John Greytok.

Greytok is also an adoptee, but he’s against the bill. He says it punishes parents who have already made the hard choice to give their child to adoption.

“In this situation the birth parents have no notification, no right to object, no right to even know that it’s happening until it’s already occurred,” Greytok said.

But for Purcell, being able to access that piece of paper could mean even more to adoptees than the information it would afford.

“It really all boils down to the way that adopted people are treated by the State of Texas,” Purcell said. “They want to feel like full-fledged citizens endowed with all the same equal rights as non-adopted citizens.”


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