Overview of current state-level adoptee rights or adoption-related legislation in the United States. Federal legislation related to adopted people is here.
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Map and Bill Descriptions
2024 Adoptee Rights Legislation (Domestic) (copy)
Summaries and analysis provided by Gregory D. Luce. Bills with a globe icon indicate the bill impacts intercountry adoptees. Current through September 6, 2023.
Active State Bills
AB1302. A bad bill as introduced; a dumpster fire bill after amendments. California could be the crown jewel of states if we ever flip it from restricted rights to equal rights. It has the most adopted people of any state and has been one of the most restricted states in the country for decades (it was the first state to seal original birth records, making them unavailable to the adult adopted person later). But it’s a nightmare when a bill pops up from nowhere and is chock full of discriminatory provisions. That’s what AB-1302 was initially—except it’s even worse now after a substantial rewrite. The introduced bill contained court involvement to request your own own birth certificate plus the right of birthparents to file a “disclosure preference form” with two choices: 1) disclose personal identifying information on the original certificate of birth; or 2) redact personal identifying information on the original certificate of birth. The amended version now adopts a legal framework equivalent with bad 1970s sitcoms (see, e.g., Minnesota’s current law or, if you like, “Me and the Chimp“). It retains court involvement and creates a massive bureaucracy centered around one thing: contacting birthparents by “certified or registered mail, restricted delivery, and return receipt requested.” The hand-delivered government notices ask birthparents their opinions on releasing the adopted person’s birth record. From there it just gets more complicated, with a second notice required “150 days or 3 months later, whichever is sooner,” after which there are three general results: 1) release of the OBC if all parents on the birth record agree in writing; 2) redaction of one of two listed birth parents if only one parent agrees in writing; 3) no release at all if nobody bothers to sign for or respond to the certified letter at all (or it’s not deliverable). The bill is also prospective as well as retroactive, though the birth record is released if birthparents are verified as deceased. The bill is an absolute mess, and its rating has now changed from unacceptable to flaming dumpster fire. Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) is the prime sponsor, and it has three co-authors, one of whom is a Democrat. It was heard and passed out of the Judiciary Committee on a DO PASS recommendation and moved toward consideration in the Assembly Health Committee. The author pulled the bill for further consideration in 2023 and it will likely return in January 2024 to its last assigned committee (Health).
Adoptees United has a sign-up specifically for those interested in getting involved in California, as well as a page with centralized information and resources and a way to register your opposition.
SB64. Equal rights bill that restores the right of Georgia-born adult adopted people to request and receive a copy of their original birth certificate. Introduced with nineteen sponsors, including primary author Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula), this is a straightforward bill that restores the right of adult adopted people, at age 18, to request and receive a copy of their own birth record. It also applies to an adopted person’s parent, sibling, or descendant, if the adoptee is deceased. The Georgia Alliance for Adoptee Rights has been working on this issue for more than a year now, and its team can finally celebrate the introduction of a solid bill. It was reported out favorably from the Senate Committee on Children and Families, where it was unanimously recommended for DO PASS on February 28, 2023. It passed the Senate, 54-0, on March 6. It is now in the House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee. It was set for hearing on March 14, where it was reported favorably by a unanimous voice vote. It awaited full House vote but was postponed for consideration to work out apparent issues raised by a small number of House members. The Georgia legislature adjourned sine die in 2023 without calling the bill up for vote. It will return for consideration in 2024.
HB4529. Attempts to reform existing discriminatory laws but in reality makes things worse. Michigan is one of the most complicated states for the rights of adult adopted people to obtain their own birth records. It is also one of two “donut-hole” states where the law divides adult adopted people into two piles. Those who fare worse are in the “donut hole” pile and largely get nothing (in Michigan these are adoptees whose adoptions occurred generally between 1945 until 1980). HB4529, introduced by Republican Rep. Pat Outman with bipartisan support, tries to get rid of the Michigan donut hole but in the process actually makes things worse, if not confusing and inconsistent. First, the bill attempts to eliminate the current date-based restrictions for getting “identifying information” (there is no direct way to obtain an OBC in Michigan without first going through the state’s opaque “central adoption registry” to request identifying information). In doing so, however, the bill reimposes a requirement that birthparents must consent to the release of any identifying information, which would include the OBC. This requirement previously did not apply to anyone outside of the donut hole; i.e., current law does not require birthparent consent for releasing identifying information to adult adoptees whose parents’ terminated their rights before roughly May 1945 or after September 1980. Accordingly this bill would retroactively apply a birthparent consent requirement to ALL adoptions, no matter the date. This makes little sense given that those outside the current donut hole have for years been able to obtain identifying information without consent, so long as birthparent(s) did not file a “denial of release” with the central adoption registry. Yet it’s even unclear whether the requirement to get your own birth record is affirmative consent or lack of a denial for release. Ultimately, the bill takes a step backwards and paradoxically makes all Michigan adoptees equally discriminated against. HB4529 has been assigned to the Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors. Michigan has a two-year legislative session; 2023 is the first of those two years. In addition, a new equal rights bill is in the works in 2023 under the leadership of the Michigan Adoptee Rights Coalition.
SB7303. Requires insurance coverage for medically-related genetic testing for adoptees and those who were in foster care. We may start to see more bills like this in the near future. This is fairly straightforward and requires medical insurers to “provide coverage for comprehensive medical genetic testing to determine the presence or absence of an inherited genetic characteristic . . . to persons who were adoptees . . . or who were persons placed in foster care.” Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-Staten Island) introduced the bill. It has been assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee. It will return for consideration in 2024.
SB736 Eliminates redactions and other discriminatory provisions that are part of a relatively new law enacted in 2018. This bill has been in the works for months, and it does what’s needed to amend current law so that, if enacted, Pennsylvania-born adult adopted people will have a right to receive a copy of their own original birth certificate without any discriminatory provisions. Specifically, the bill eliminates the nutty creation of a “summary” document that lists information on the birth record but does not provide an actual copy of the record. The bill also eliminates a high school graduation (or equivalent) requirement to request your original birth record. And, importantly, the bill repeals the ability of a birthparent to redact information on the original birth record, while retaining the ability to file a genuine contact preference form. Introduced by Republican Sen. Cris Dush (District 6) on behalf of a constituent, it has bi-partisan co-sponsorship with Democrat Jimmy Dillon (District 5). The bill has initially been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
AB13/SB15. Provides an unrestricted right, at age 18, for an adoptee to request and obtain the “impounded” pre-adoption birth certificate. These companion bills are nearly identical to legislation introduced last session, which received predominantly Republican support and were also heard in committee but never set for a vote. As introduced, AB13 and SB15 provide a simple and unrestricted right to request and obtain the original “impounded” birth certificate at age 18. The bills further divorce Wisconsin’s current process to obtain an OBC from the state’s complex intermediary system that requires a search for birthparents to obtain consent for release of identifying information and the OBC. The Senate bill is sponsored again by Senator Andre Jacque, with support of twelve other senators and representatives, including Rep. Paul Tittl, the Assembly sponsor. SB15 has been assigned initially to the Senate Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families, now chaired by a proponent of the bill and a sponsor. AB13 is assigned to the Assembly Committee on Children and Families, where it was heard last session. While Senate leadership has indicated that the Senate bill will not move this session, it is unclear how long this will last and whether the Assembly bill will still receive a hearing.
Enacted into Law
Enacted into law and effective in 2024 or 2025. For bills effective in 2023, see the 2023 legislative page.
SF1279/SF2995/HF1778.[ENACTED!] Unrestricted equal rights bill that dismantles Minnesota’s forty-five year history of inequality. These bills are unrestricted equal rights bill that are generally identical to bills filed in the prior two legislative sessions. Sen. Erin Maye Quade, a DFL (Democratic) legislator, is the chief author of the Senate bill, and Rep. Steve Elkins is the chief author of the House bill. The bills constitute a necessary simplification of the law by eliminating Minnesota’s incomprehensibly complicated and discriminatory intermediary system, the first such system in the United States and one that has been in place since 1977. Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform and Minnesota-based Adoptee Rights Law Center are working collaboratively on the bill. The House bill has been assigned to the Health Finance and Policy Committee. The Senate bill was reported out of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and heard in the Health and Human Services Committee. It is now part of the Senate HHS omnibus appropriations bill (SF2995), which passed the full Senate on April 18. After negotiations, the adoptee birth record provisions in the Senate version of SF2995 were included and approved as part of the the overall HHS omnibus bill. The legislature passed the omnibus bill on May 22, the last day of the regular session, and Governor Tim Walz signed the bill into law on May 24. Minnesota will now become the 15th state in the country to restore equal rights to all adopted people born in the state. The law is fully effective on July 1, 2024.
Dead or Carried Over Bills
Bills that died in 2024 or were pushed to the 2025 legislative calendar for possible consideration. None to date.