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
Color Key (some bills are awaiting final implementation or have carried over from 2022 to 2023). Legislative maps and bill analysis for prior years are available for 2021 and 2022.
2023 Adoptee Rights Legislation (Domestic)
Summaries and analysis provided by Gregory D. Luce. Bills with a globe icon indicate the bill impacts intercountry adoptees. Current through March 23, 2023.
Active State Bills
AB-1302. 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 has been assigned to be heard first in the Judiciary Committee. It was set for hearing on March 21, but the author pulled the bill from consideration, likely after significant opposition. 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.
HB373/SB854: Equal rights bills that would break the seal over an original birth certificate upon request of the registrant at age 18. These are largely identical bills to those introduced over the past two sessions. They would eliminate a court-initiated intermediary process for release of confidential adoption records as well as repeal a good cause requirement for release of those records, though a court order would still be required for release of records other than an original birth certificate. A separate provision relates to the breaking of the seal of the original birth certificate upon request of an adult adopted person who is at least 18 years of age (it also applies to persons whose paternity had been changed or affirmed after issuance of the original record). While the bill does not specifically require Florida’s Department of Health or its Bureau of Vital Statistics to release the original birth certificate, presumably it would be released as part of “breaking” the seal. So far the only author is House Democrat Joe Casello, who carried the bill in the House last session. The Senate bill is carried by Democratic Senator Linda Stewart. Last year, as in 2021, identical bills died in committees without hearings. The House bill is currently assigned for consideration in a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. The Senate bill has been initially assigned to the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. The Florida session convened on March 7; it adjourns by May 5.
SF1279/HF1778. 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 the Health and Human Services Committee laid the bill over for consideration for inclusion in the HHS omnibus bill. It will now take inclusion of the bill in both the Senate and House omnibus budget bill.
SB573: Allows a biological parent who was omitted or listed incorrectly to be added to an original (pre-adoptive) birth certificate. This bill has been in the Oregon legislature for about three sessions now, doggedly pursued by an adult adoptee who wants the correct factual information listed on her own original birth certificate. The bill, carried by Senator Sara Gelser Blouin, would allow addition or correction of a birthparent on the OBC if approved through an administrative determination of paternity or parentage. DNA evidence is required, along with a $100 filing fee. The first hearing on the bill was January 23, 2023, before the Senate Committee on Human Services, chaired by Senator Gelser Blouin. The bill was then delayed for consideration to work out issues arising out of the process to approve corrections to the birth record. It was reported out favorably on March 6 after the bill was simplified to avoid a court process. It passed the Senate on March 13, on a 28-1 vote and is now in the House, where it is assigned to the Early Childhood and Human Services Committee. The Oregon legislature adjourns on or before June 25.
HB2006/SB2237. Simple unrestricted equal rights bill that provides the OBC upon request at age 18. Texas has every-other-year legislative sessions, and these bills continue longstanding equality efforts that began many sessions ago. HB2006 and SB2237, authored by Republican Rep. Cody Harris in the House and Democrat Morgan LaMantia in the Senate, are simple and straightforward and provide the original birth record to an adoptee if requested at age 18 or older. They also allow an adult descendant, adult sibling, surviving spouse, or adoptive parent to request the OBC if the adopted person is deceased. The Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition is working on the bills’ passage, along with other longstanding groups. The House bill has been assigned to the Public Health Committee; the Senate bill to the Health and Human Services Committee.
SB147/SB711: Two similar unconstitutional and discriminatory property-related bills that extend to specific intercountry adoptees who do not have—or cannot prove— US citizenship. These are terrible bills that either 1) prohibit people who are citizens of Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia from buying a home or real property in Texas; or 2) allow a seller to refuse to sell property to such people. They would by definition apply to green card holders (legal permanent residents) as well as legal asylum seekers and, in a particularly cruel twist, intercountry adoptees from these countries who were adopted by US citizen parents as children but who were never provided US citizenship under current immigration law. Republican Lois Kolkhorst filed SB147 and Republican Charles Perry filed SB711. They have been assigned to the State Affairs Committee, where nearly 100 witnesses testified against the bills on March 2, and are now left pending in the committee. The bills get our worst possible bill rating.
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.
Enacted into Law
Enacted into law or enacted previously and effective in 2023.
HB4566/H5000: [ENACTED] Birthparent consent bill that applies retroactively to all adoptions in the state, no matter the date the adoption was finalized. Has been amended to add redaction provisions. Representative RJ May introduced HB4566 in the House to amend Section 44-63-140, which was amended already in 2019 but applied only to adoptions finalized after July 1, 2019. HB4566 now seeks to make the 2019 law applicable to all adoptions no matter when finalized. The bill provides that adult adoptees may obtain a “copy of their original birth certificate and accompanying evidence of adoption with the consent of the biological parent and applies retroactively, regardless of the date on which the adoption was finalized.” H5000 is essentially identical to HB4566 with one difference: the original birth record may be released if “the department or an office of vital records in another jurisdiction certifies that the biological parent is deceased.” Presumably, if two parents are listed on the original birth record, proof of death of both birthparents is required to release the record, though H5000 does not specifically address this issue. The House Judiciary Committee heard H5000 on March 29 after a favorable recommendation from a subcommittee. The full Judiciary Committee, however, tacked on a redaction provision to go along with required birthparent consent or death, and then reported the bill out favorably on a 23-0-1 vote. It passed the full House by unanimous consent and has since been referred to the Senate, where it was assigned to the Committee on Medical Affairs, which reported it out favorably on May 5, 2022. It passed the Senate on May 12 and Governor McMaster signed it into law on May 16. It takes effect on May 16, 2023.
HB1231 [ENACTED!]. Equal rights bill that separates the release of an original pre-adoptive birth certificate from a required court process. South Dakota has for decades required a court process to release court records to an adult adopted person upon request, which typically (but does not always) include a copy of the original birth certificate. This right to obtain court records is current law, and there is even an attorney general opinion confirming the right. This bill, whose primary sponsor is Mellissa Heermann (R-Brookings), would take the logical next step by eliminating the need for a court process to request the record. Rather, the bill provides that an adult adopted person, at age 18, can directly obtain a copy of the original birth certificate from the department of health. The House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted it out of committee, and it passed the House on February 16 on a 65-4 vote. It was also unanimously recommended out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee; it subsequently passed the full Senate on February 28, 2023. Governor Kristi Noem signed the bill into law on March 23, and a ceremonial bill signing is scheduled for March 27. The law is effective on July 1, 2023.
H.629: [ENACTED] Unrestricted equal rights bill that the House Committee on Judiciary drafted after extensive testimony and work from advocates and supporters. This bill is one of few, if any, bills that start with discriminatory provisions but are amended in committee to remove those provisions and to produce a genuine equal rights bill. H.629, as currently approved by the House Committee on Judiciary, restores the right of adopted people at age 18 to request and obtain their own birth records. It also applies to descendants of adult adopted people. The bill left in place portions of the existing Vermont Adoption Registry and its information-sharing framework, preserving the right of birthparents and adoptees to block release of defined “identifying information,” though the ability to file such a nondisclosure is eliminated on July 1, 2023. Importantly, a refusal to release identifying information through the adoption registry, shall not “interfere with a person’s right to obtain a copy of an original birth certificate.” Birthparents may also file optional contact preference forms with the registry. The final bill is a result of painstaking work and testimony from numerous advocates, primarily four adoptees associated with the Vermont Adoptee Rights Working Group (a core partner of the New England Adoptee Rights Coalition), Marley Greiner, Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, Annette O’Connell, and former Maine Rep. Bobbi Beavers, among others. The House amended the bill on March 17 and it passed the full House on March 18. After multiple hearings the Senate Judiciary Committee also amended the bill, retaining its unrestricted equal rights provisions, and reported it out favorably on April 1, 2022. It passed the full Senate on April 8 on a 27-0-1 vote, and the House concurred with the Senate amendments on April 14. Governor Phil Scott signed it into law on May 3, and its primary provisions become effective July 1, 2023.
Bills introduced in 2023 but died without consideration or passage.
SB1147/SB1329/SB1464. Three identical bills, three different Senate authors: each bill eliminates a date-based donut-hole in current law that prohibits most Arizona-born adoptees from applying for their OBCs. A little more than a year after Arizona created the nation’s second “donut hole” law, these three identical bills, with three different authors, would remove that donut hole. Current law, enacted in 2021, allows a relatively tiny number of Arizona-born adoptees to apply for and receive a copy of the OBC, limiting it to adoptees who were born prior to June 20, 1968, or after September 28, 2021. Republican Senator John Kavanagh has introduced SB1147 and Republican Senator Ken Bennett has filed SB1329. Republican Senator T.J. Shope recently introduced the third bill on January 30, 2023. All three bills are assigned to the Judiciary Committee. While SB1147 was set for hearing on February 9, it was removed from the calendar before the hearing. Bills in Arizona must move through committee and crossover to the other chamber by February 17. It ultimately died without a hearing.
SB64 [PASSED SENATE; DIED IN HOUSE]. 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 on March 29 without calling the bill up for vote.
HF268/SF517: Allows addition of a biological parent who was omitted from a original (pre-adoptive) birth certificate. Likely in response to Iowa adoptees who are receiving copies of their OBCs under a new law, these bills provide a procedure to amend the original birth certificate to add a biological parent who was omitted from the record. It requires a sworn affidavit from the biological parent along with “substantiating evidence” that the person is the biological parent of the adoptee. If the parent is deceased, the procedure is more complicated and requires an affidavit from a relative of the parent or from personal representative or trustee in relation to the parent. If added, the original birth certificate is then marked as amended. Interestingly, the Iowa State Bar Association supports the bill. The original bill in the House was recommended for passage and was renumbered and reintroduced, where it is now in the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted SF187 out favorably, and it was renumbered to SF517. Both bills failed to crossover before the deadline.
SB2075 [DIED IN CONFERENCE]: Unrestricted equal rights bill that releases the OBC to an adopted person who is at least 21 years of age, though with an amendment that now provides for disclosure vetoes. As introduced this bill was identical to a bill filed the last two sessions, authored by Senator Angela Burks Hill. It provides that a “person who has been adopted is entitled to a certified copy of the person’s original birth certificate if the person is at least twenty-one (21) years old. The copy of the person’s original birth certificate shall be clearly marked ‘cancelled and revised.'” SB2075 was heard in committee on January 26, 2023, where it was clumsily amended to add a provision that the OBC would be released upon request “unless otherwise provided by a court.” The amended bill was then reported favorably from committee. As a practical matter, the court order provision will be offered for all adoptions going forward and, if requested, will be included in a court’s order at the time of adoption. For this reason, it is a discriminatory bill that will ultimately create the option for a birthparent veto disclosure, requested at the time of surrender and finalization of the adoption. SB2075 passed the full Mississippi Senate on a vote of 41-11, with no votes coming from Democrats. The House Judiciary A Committee added a “strike all” amendment that would essentially gut the bill and replace it with provisions unrelated to the release of the OBC. Such a maneuver is used to kill a bill or to force the opposite chamber to negotiate on different provisions unrelated to the initially introduced bill. It passed the House with the strike all amendment added. On March 14, the Senate did not agree to the strike all amendment and requested a conference committee. The bill ultimately died in conference.
SB2087: Unrestricted equal rights bill that releases the OBC to an adopted person who is at least 18 years of age. This bill is identical SB2075 with one major exception: rather than use the general age of majority in Mississippi, which is 21, it provides that a “person who has been adopted is entitled to a certified copy of the person’s original birth certificate if the person is at least eighteen (18) years old.” Like SB2075, this one has also been referred to the Judiciary A Committee. SB2087 is authored by Senator Chuck Younger and may be heard in committee on January 31, 2023, the last day for bills to make it through the committee process. It was not heard and it died.
HB11: Discriminatory bill that requires birthparent notice and consent before releasing any identifying information, including an original birth certificate. This is a repeat bill from Representative Lee Yancey, who introduced an identical bill last session. The bill imposes a birthparent notice and consent requirement for the release of any identifying information, including the original birth record. The key provision in HB11 states that “the bureau [of vital statistics] shall contact the birth parent . . . to notify him or her of the request. Upon agreement from a birth parent, the bureau shall provide the requested information regarding only the parent who agreed to the release of identifying information.” While the bill is silent on redaction, the wording of the bill suggests that any information about a non-consenting parent will be redacted. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary A Committee, where it died in the 2022 session.
HB1018: Allows release of identifying information from the state’s centralized adoption records file if the adoptee is at least 24 years of age. This appears to be a bill to counteract HB11 (above), and has been referred to the same committee for consideration. It would allow an adoption agency, through use of the state’s adoption records system, to release identifying information to an adult adoptee who is at least 24 years of age. Identifying information would likely include a copy of the original birth certificate. It is unclear why the age is set at 24, except that it is the age that was used in Louisiana’s recent unrestricted law, for reasons particular to Louisiana. The bill is overly complicated, may not allow release of records created prior to 2005, and uses an arbitrary age. Better bills have already been introduced in the Mississippi Senate.
HB759: Vital records bill that allows the registrar to issue a certificate of foreign birth to a child who is an intercountry adoptee and has acquired U.S. citizenship. This is a somewhat wonky bill that will allow adoptive parents to bypass registering a foreign adoption in a Mississippi court and instead allow them to apply directly for a certificate of foreign birth with the state vital records registrar. It applies only if the parents have completed a full and final adoption in the country of origin and the child possesses a U.S. Certificate of Citizenship. It also requires providing a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate as well as the original documents related to the foreign adoption, among other documents. It is a repeat of a bill that passed the Senate last session but died in the House.
HB1969. [DIED] Simple and straightforward bill that restores the right of an adult adopted person to request and obtain their own original pre-adoption birth certificate. This bill is constituent-driven and is fairly simple and direct within a very complex legal framework for Virginia OBCs. The bulk of the bill states that “at the written request and upon proof of identification, the State Health Commissioner shall provide an adult adoptee access to his original birth certificate and make such certificate available for copy.” The bill author (known as a chief “patron” under Virginia legislative procedures) is Republican Representative Wendell Walker of Lynchburg. He offered the bill on January 10, 2023, and it has been reported out favorably from the House Health , Welfare and Institutions Committee on a vote of 19-1. It passed second reading in the House and may scheduled for final House vote on February 6. The bill must pass the House of Delegates and crossover to the Senate by February 7, and pass the Senate by February 25, 2023. Before third reading on the bill on February 6, however, the chairman of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee asked that HB1969 be re-referred back to his committee. That motion prevailed, and the bill was effectively killed for the session. It does not carry over to 2024.
SB470 [PASSED SENATE][DIED IN HOUSE] Bill that was rushed through committee and amended to redact the original birth certificate by default unless birthparent permission has been given to release it. Plus other discriminatory provisions. This began as a repeat bill from last session, which when introduced was nearly identical to a Pennsylvania law enacted in 2018. After last-minute and extensive on-the-fly amendments by the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is now a even worse bill than when it started. It applies to adult adoptees and lineal descendants of the adoptee, though to request birth records an adoptee must be at least 18 years of age and “graduated from high school, completed a Test Assessing Secondary Completion program or has legally withdrawn from secondary schooling.” The current amended version also creates a “contact preference and personal identifying information disclosure form,” which allows a birthparent to consent to release of personally identifying information and to register any contact preference. Without that consent, however, the adult adoptee will by default receive a redacted OBC. And the passive birthparent veto (i.e., consent has not been registered) is effective for currently deceased birthparents as well as lasts beyond the death of any living birthparent, creating what is known as a “Zombie Veto.” It is an absolute mess of a bill, and it would be the first instance in the country where a redacted OBC is the default document provided to the adopted person upon request. It passed the Senate on March 1, 2023, and was now in the House Judiciary Committee for consideration before it died without a hearing. West Virginia bills do not carry over to the next legislative session.
HB2361 [DIED]. Bill that requires an adoptee to use the state’s mutual consent registry, and undergo counseling, before being able to request the original birth record at age 21. This is a reintroduced bill from 2022. This bill requires an adult adopted person, aged 18 or over, to use the state’s mutual consent registry and be “unsuccessful in obtaining identifying information” before being eligible to apply for an original birth record (at age 21). While the bill appears to require the state registrar to issue the OBC to the adoptee under those limited circumstances, current law—unchanged by this bill—will create significant doubt whether that could occur without a birthparent’s consent. In addition, mandating the use of West Virginia’s mutual consent registry will require the adopted person to complete “one hour of counseling with a social worker or social service worker employed by the Department’s registry” as part of trying to obtain the original birth record through the registry. As introduced it is a confusing bill and does not restore to West Virginia adoptees their unrestricted right to request and obtain their own OBCs. Last session the bill died in the Judiciary Committee, where it is also assigned this year. It died in committee without a hearing.