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. Unrestricted equal rights bill with genuine contact preference form. Arizona advocates will try again to pass an unrestricted equal rights bill, and state Republican Representative Bret Roberts is again the sponsor. The bill is straightforward and requires the Department of Health to release an adoptee’s own OBC upon request at age 18. It does not provide for descendants of the adoptee to request and obtain the OBC. The bill died last session after the chair of a Senate committee refused to allow the bill to move. That senator, however, has since retired. The Arizona legislature convened on January 11 and it will be dealing foremost with a pandemic that has hit the state extremely hard and is not yet considered under control. A hearing has been set in the Judiciary Committee for Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 9:00am, and a live stream is available.
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 it is currently assigned to the Judiciary Committee. The Indiana legislative session formally convened on January 4, 2021.
SSB1040. Discriminatory bill that supports redaction 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 with a discriminatory bill. This bill kicks 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 Iowa legislative session formally convened on January 11, 2021.
SB331: 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. A hearing in the Senate is already scheduled for January 26, 2021, and a House bill authored by a Republican member is in the filing process already.
SF328: Unrestricted equal rights bill that dismantles Minnesota’s forty-plus-year history of compromise. SF328 is the Minnesota Senate version of two 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. The House bill is expected to be carried by a Republican and will be filed shortly. 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.
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.
SB2092/SB2205: Provides the OBC upon request to an adoptee 18 years after the adoption, overriding any prior disclosure vetoes. Republican Senators Angela Burks Hill and Chuck Younger have introduced identical bills 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 bills have been referred to the Judiciary A Committee, where an identical bill died without a hearing in the 2020 legislative session.
HB62: 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.” This bill, sponsored by the Republican Majority Leader in the Tennessee House, removes the contact veto provision. 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 this bill is a requirement to inform people who had previously registered a contact veto of the change in the law.