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 November 28, 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 two years, and their work is moving closer to the reality of enactment. Last session SB64 flew through the Senate and, after being passed, moved over to the House. While it stalled on the House floor at the end of the session last year, it begins in the House Judiciary Committee this year. The Georgia legislature convenes on January 8, 2024.
HB5148/HB5149. [PASSED HOUSE] Provides an unrestricted right, at age 18, for Michigan-born adoptees to request and obtain a copy of their own original birth certificate. House bills 5148 and 5149, introduced on October 17, 2023, are tie-bar bills (both bills must pass for either to become law) that repeal and simplify Michigan’s overly complex and inequitable system that currently restricts adult adopted persons from requesting and obtaining their own vital records. HB5148, carried by Rep. Kristian Grant (D) amends Michigan vital records law so that all adult adopted persons and their descendants may request and obtain a copy of the adopted person’s original birth record. Such requests are made and fulfilled directly through the state registrar, without the need to involve Michigan’s Central Adoption Registry (CAR) or the court. HB5149, carried by Rep. Pat Outman (R), eliminates the the state’s Central Adoption Registry’s control over the release of pre-adoption birth records, while at the same time repealing the differential treatment of adoptees based on the date that parental rights had been terminated. The bills reflect the long work of the Michigan Adoptees Rights Coalition and its member organizations. More information about the bills and MARC are on MARC’s website, including a more thorough overview. The bills made it out of the Children, Family and Seniors Committee on November 8 and were both passed by the full House on November 9 on identical 99-8-3 votes. The bill package has now been transmitted to the Senate, where it is assigned to the Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety. The Michigan legislature is on recess now until early January 2024; the bills, however, remain active.
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 was voted out favorably from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and it has now been referred to the Senate Appropriations 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 becomes fully effective on July 1, 2024.
Dead or Carried Over
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 this past Spring by Republican Rep. Pat Outman, has essentially been replaced by the later introduction of two tie-bar bills that restore the right of Michigan adopted people to request and obtain their own birth records (See HB5148/HB5149 above). Rep. Outman is the primary sponsor of HB5149.