Overview of state-level legislation that impacts U.S.-born adoptees in the United States.
Map and Descriptions
2021 Adoptee Rights Legislation (Domestic)
Active State Bills
Summaries and analysis provided by Gregory D. Luce.
HB2070. Bill that has been amended to create a donut hole, excluding and discriminating against adoptees whose adoptions were finalized between 1968 and the bill’s effective date. While HB2070 started out as a straightforward unrestricted equal rights bill, author and Republican Representative Bret Roberts offered an amendment at the first House hearing on the bill. The bill, as amended, now excludes adopted people whose adoptions were finalized between June 20, 1968, and the effective date of the act, creating a donut hole for the vast majority of Arizona adoptees. Advocates in Arizona did not object at the hearing to the inclusion of the amendment, and it is likely that little can be done to save the bill at this point. The Judiciary Committee hearing in the House was live streamed and video from the hearing is available online. It was ultimately approved by the House on consent motion, 59-0, and it is now in the Senate, where it is set for a March 3 hearing in the Health and Human Services Committee.
HB6105: Unrestricted equal rights bill that closes a discriminatory date-based loophole in current law. HB6105 is a “raised bill” introduced by the Joint Committee on Planning and Development, a committee co-chaired by the two primary authors of prior identical bills: Senator Steve Cassano and Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey. The bill is on an identical initial path from prior years and, we hope, a path that ends successfully this year. The bill eliminates the loophole in current Connecticut law that discriminates against adoptees whose adoptions occurred prior to October 1, 1983. For these adoptees, it takes a court order to obtain a copy of your own original birth certificate. HB6105 is now in the Joint Committee on Planning and Development, where it originated. The hearing in the committee was on Wednesday February 3, 2021.
SB1700/HB1333: Unrestricted equal rights legislation that provides a copy of the original birth certificate upon request to the registrant at age 18. Florida has had a tortured history of attempts to modify its restrictive law. These bills, however, are the first bills in the last few years to start out with an unrestricted right to request and obtain a copy of the original birth certificate. They also eliminate an intermediary process and repeals the state’s “good cause” provision in adoption law for petitioning the court for adoption records, including the OBC. The legislation also applies to anyone who had a prior original birth certificate sealed after a paternity determinations or other court-ordered substitution. Senator Vic Torres and Representative Emily Slosberg are the primary authors. The 2021 Florida legislature does not convene until March 2, 2021, and it is scheduled to adjourn at the end of April.
H0059. Bill that will release the original birth certificate to adult adopted people but only for adoptions finalized on or after July 1, 2021. This is a simple but discriminatory bill that has very little practical effect, as it applies only to future adoptions, the vast majority of which are typically already “open” adoptions. It has been introduced as a committee bill by the House State Affairs Committee and is now in the Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee and was set for hearing on February 25 but has now been rescheduled to Monday, March 1. The Idaho legislature adjourns on March 26.
SB268. Bill that modifies current existing corrupt contact preference forms but otherwise preserves discriminatory vetoes for adoptions finalized prior to July 1, 2021. This bill, in a state that has implemented an absolute disaster of a framework for obtaining an original birth certificate, does three things: 1) preserves existing discriminatory birthparent vetoes over release of the OBC, extending them through June 30, 2021; 2) eliminates the current corrupt contact preference form that allows a birthparent to veto release of the OBC, but only for adoptions finalized after June 30, 2021; and 3) eliminates the “zombie veto,” which allows previously filed vetoes to extend beyond a birthparent’s death. It is not known what organization is behind the bill. State Republican Senator Mike Young has authored the bill and on January 28 it was reported out as DO PASS from the Judiciary Committee, on an 8-2 vote. Representatives from the Indiana Adoption Network testified in favor of the bill, stating that it “reflected modern cultural changes in adoption.” It has since passed the Indiana Senate by a vote of 27-20, with 3 absent, and has moved to the House.
SSB1040/HSB226 Discriminatory bills that create redaction rights through a corrupt contact preference form. Iowa has tried to enact a bill over the past few years, each time moving forward but either starting out or ending up with a discriminatory bill. These bills in 2021 simply kick off with discriminatory provisions, including a corrupt contact preference form that a birthparent may file stating that “I do not want to be contacted. I request that my personally identifiable information be redacted from the noncertified copy of the original certificate of birth and my contact preference form.” SSB1040 has been filed as a committee bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee chairperson, Senator Brad Zaun. The Senate bill was last considered in a February 15 subcommittee meeting, where it was recommended for passage. The House bill was introduced on February 17, 2021, and referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it was considered on February 24 and, according to the bill’s supporters, recommended for passage. The Senate bill now faces a March 5 deadline to be reported out of committee.
SB331/HB999. Unrestricted rights bill with genuine contact preference form and elimination of prior disclosure vetoes. Maryland instituted a system in 2000 that provided for release of the OBC, but only to adoptees 21 years of age or older who were adopted on or after January 1, 2000. Current law also provides for birth parent and adoptee disclosure vetoes. SB331, which is identical to a bill from the 2020 session, eliminates this discriminatory framework and provides for the unrestricted right to request and obtain the OBC. The bill allows for genuine contact preference forms for both birthparents and adoptees, allows a birthparent to request and obtain the OBC in addition to the adult adoptee at age 18, and sunsets the few prior disclosure vetoes on file, beginning October 1, 2021, converting them into contact preferences indicating that no contact is preferred. Maryland Adoptee Rights has been the leader on this issue in Maryland, and it is also part of the Capitol Coalition for Adoptee Rights, a regional coalition formed to support legislation in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. HB0999 is in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. A hearing on SB0331 was completed on January 26 and efforts now focus on moving the bill forward in the Senate.
HD1543/SD.1142. Bill that removes a date-based restrictions that creates a “donut hole” in the state for adoptees born between 1974 and 2008. This is the same short and sweet bill (14 words long) from at least four prior sessions. It closes a date-based loophole in current Massachusetts law, eliminating the discriminatory provision that denies an unrestricted right to the OBC for adoptees who were born between 1974 and 2008. Getting the bill through the Massachusetts Senate has always been the primary obstacle.
SF328/HF470: Unrestricted equal rights bills that dismantle Minnesota’s forty-plus-year history of compromise. SF328/HF470 are equal rights bills that, with minor tweaks, are identical to bills filed in the 2019-2020 legislative sessions. Sen. Jim Carlson, a DFL (Democratic) legislator, is the author of the Senate bill. Republican Rep. Dave Baker is the House author. The bills constitute a necessary step toward dismantling a complex intermediary system that has existed in Minnesota since 1977. Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform is the primary organization behind the effort.
SB2205: Provides the OBC upon request to an adoptee 18 years after the adoption, overriding any prior disclosure vetoes. Republican Senator Chuck Younger introduced a bill that will release the OBC upon an adopted person’s request—but not at age 18. Rather, the request may be made 18 years after the adoption. This could mean that some older adoptees may not get their OBC upon request until their twenties and, potentially, into their thirties. The bill specifically overrides any prior birthparent disclosure vetoes over identifying information, stating that the vetoes do not affect “an adoptee who is entitled to a copy of the adoptee’s original and cancelled birth certificate under Section 93-17-21(3).” The Senate Judiciary A Committee unanimously recommended DO PASS for SB2205 on a voice vote and the full Senate subsequently passed the bill 46-0. It is now in the House in the Judiciary A Committee and faces a March 2 deadline to move out of committee.
A5141. Strange bill that conflicts with the state’s new adoptee rights law. This bill is hard to figure out, primarily because it does not require anyone to do anything. It is a reprise of a bill that existed prior to New York’s newly effective equal rights law. It purports to give adult adoptees “access” to the pre-adoption birth certificate and to extend that access to adoptive parents if the adopted person is younger than 18 years of age. Yet the bill does not indicate whether “access” is through the court or through the New York city or state departments of health, nor if any agency is required to do anything. It also requires the “facts of the adoption” to be printed on the adoptee’s pre-adoption birth record, creating a Frankensteinian integrated birth certificate, something that the vast majority of adopted people do not want. Consider the bill dead on arrival, though it has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
S0250: Lowers the age from 25 to 18 for adoptees who wish to request their OBC. S0250 is similar to a bill that died last session, with one big exception: it makes the OBC available from the date of birth for adoptees who are born on or after July 1, 2021. Otherwise, it lowers the current age to request the OBC from 25 to 18 and adds the right of direct-line descendants to request a copy of the OBC if the adopted person is deceased. Senator Gayle Goldin introduced the bill along with Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin. It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was heard on February 25.
HB62/SB723: Removes contact veto provisions in current law. Tennessee is not an unrestricted rights state. It has three provisions that are problematic: 1) redaction of records in certain limited cases; 2) a $150 fee to request records; and 3) a highly problematic and likely unconstitutional “contact veto.” The bills, sponsored by the Republican Majority Leader in the Tennessee House, removes the contact veto and contact notice registry provisions. While the bill is hard to review because of way it is drafted, I have compiled how the proposed changes fit into existing law. Last session near-identical bills were set to be heard in each chambers’ Judiciary Committees, but COVID-19 led to deferral of all legislative action. The only difference with the bill this session is a requirement to inform people who registered a contact veto that the law is changing. It was reported out favorably from the House Subcommittee on Children & Family Affairs, and now goes to the full Civil Justice Committee for hearing on March 3. The companion Senate bill, SB0723, was recommended unanimously for passage by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 23, and moved to the Calendar Committee for potential scheduling before the full Senate.
HB1386: Simple unrestricted equal rights bill that provides the OBC upon request at age 18. Texas has every other year legislative sessions, and HB1386 is a continuation of longstanding equality efforts that began many sessions ago. The bill, authored by Republican Rep. Cody Harris, is simple and straightforward and provides the original birth record to an adoptee if requested at age 18 or older. It also allows an adult descendant, adult sibling, surviving spouse, or adoptive parent to request the OBC if the adopted person is deceased. It was filed on January 26, 2021. The Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition is working toward enactment of the bill as introduced.
H.222: Bill that creates a study committee to look at releasing identifying information to some adopted people in the state. Ah, the study bill. Within a week of an adoptee-focused opinion piece appearing in an online Vermont publication, Rep. Kathryn Webb has introduced a bill that proposes a study committee to examine the issue of releasing “identifying information” in cases involving adoptions finalized prior to July 1, 1986. Last session, Rep. Webb introduced what I then called an “odd duck” bill that provided for release of information but only if the adoptee or birthparent has been deceased for more than fifty years. H.222, this year’s bill, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
SB50. Discriminatory bill that creates a birthparent right to redact information on the OBC. SB50 is identical to prior bills that have been introduced the last few sessions in West Virginia. It is a discriminatory OBC bill that will allow birthparents to file “name redaction requests.” If filed, the request would operate to redact a birthparent’s name on the adoptee’s original birth certificate. The bill died last year without receiving a hearing in committee, as it did in the prior legislative session. It is currently in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee.
HB190. Identifying information bill that attempts to sunset prior birthparent disclosure vetoes. Mississippi currently uses a “centralized adoption records file” to control release of identifying information, which includes the adoptee’s original birth certificate. The current system allows birthparents to file affidavits that allow or deny release of such identifying information. HB635 adds a new provision indicating that an adoptee at age 21 may obtain “unrestricted” identifying information and that a birthparent affidavit “shall not be effective against an adoptee who is twenty-one (21) years of age or older.” It’s not fully clear if the bill applies retroactively or prospectively to birthparent affidavits. In addition, requests must be made to a licensed adoption agency as part of post-adoption services, with a fee of no more than $100.00 per birthparent (a request for identifying information relates to each birthparent). Moreover, the agency must search for and attempt to locate birthparents to inform them of the adoptee’s request, though the birthparents cannot object to release of the information nor is the release of identifying information affected by the failure to locate a birthparent. The bill is identical to one introduced by Rep. Lee Yancey in the 2020 session, who is the principal author again this session. HB190 died in Committee.