Dear Governor Nixon:
Bastard Nation: the Adoptee Rights Organization is the largest adoptee civil rights organization in the United States. We support full, unrestricted access for all adopted persons, upon request, of their own true, unaltered original birth certificates (OBC). We do not support SB 351 and ask that you veto this badly flawed legislation.
Under current Missouri law, the original birth certificates/identities of all Missouri adoptees are sealed and generally cannot be released to the adoptee except by court order and only with the consent of both the biological and adoptive parents. This 4-signature consent is the most restrictive OBC/identity access law in the United States. For as long as we can remember, Missouri adoption reform advocates have been attempting to free the state's adoptees from these onerous restrictions.
Unfortunately, SB 351 is not the bill to overturn the current law. SB 351 makes superficial changes to access structure, removing adoptive parent sign-offs, while maintaining retrospectively and prospectively the other restrictions which keep Missouri adoptee birth records and identity a state secret. The bill also allows adoptees under certain conditions to access identifying information about siblings, and permits adoptees' lineal descendants, under certain conditions, to access identifying information if the adoptee is deceased. The bill, in fact, does not even mention the term "original birth certificate" nor does it clarify what "identifying information" or "record" could be released and in what form. A letter from the court? An original birth certificate? What?
SB 351 is misleading and inimical to the rights of all Missouri adoptees. The measure is promoted as an “adoptee rights” bill. It is not. SB 351 reinforces out-dated adoption secrecy through the disclosure affidavit for “birthparents.” SB 351 does not restore the right to the original birth certificate access once enjoyed by all Missouri adoptees. Instead, it makes adoptee access to identifying information a state/third party-conditioned privilege separate and unequal from the right enjoyed by Missouri's not adopted who can receive their birth certificates with no conditions and questions.
Adopted adults, especially since 9/11, are increasingly denied passports, drivers licenses, pensions, Social Security benefits, professional certifications, and security clearances due to discrepancies on their amended birth certificates, and their inability to produce an original birth certificate to answer the problems.
Adoptees without a genuine original birth record could soon be barred from running for public office. At least 10 states, including Missouri (HB 283; sp Lyle Rowland, Mike Kelly) have introduced legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates to present their original birth certificates to appropriate authorities to prove citizenship eligibility for office. Bills in some other states go further, mandating anyone running for office to prove citizenship through an original birth certificate. It is no stretch to think that someday soon adoptees could be barred from voting due to lack of “legal” identity over problematic amended birth certificates, and the perpetual sealing of the originals.
Kansas and Alaska have never sealed original birth certificates. Since 1999 four states have restored to adoptees the unrestricted right to records and identity access: Oregon through ballot initiative, and Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine through legislation. No statistics are available for Kansas and Alaska, but approximately 17,000 OBCs in the latter four states have been released with no reported ill consequences.
Rights are for all citizens, not privileges doled out to some. Missouri does not segregate rights by religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. It should not segregate rights by birth, adoptive status, or third party preference.
Please veto SB 351. All of Missouri adoptees must enjoy equal protection, due process, and dignity. Missouri adoptees deserve better than SB 351!
Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee's historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.