help those who are new to legislative reform better understand the
inequity of adoption statutes in the U.S., we've put together a color-coded
map that compares adoption laws across the country.
on the thumbnail to see a
larger version of the map and recaps
of adoption laws in the 50 U.S. states
and the District of Columbia.
Just a quick glance at this thumbnail of our 50-state map tells a disappointing tale. Reds, oranges and yellow (for the states that provide adoptees no access to their obc except by parental waiver or through a Registry, if that) prevail where we should be seeing a sea of green (for states where adoptees have unrestricted access to their obc or access is subject to a contact or disclosure veto.)
In recent years, a number of states (among them, Illinois in 1997) have attempted to make the leap from red (or a shade thereof) to green, but the majority of these efforts have failed. Only six states have successfully reinstated adult adoptees' right to access their original birth certificates over the past decade: Tennessee in 1995, Oregon (the only state to have unsealed adoption records through a voter initiative rather than via its state legislature) in 1998, Delaware in 1999, Alabama (which was one of the last states to seal its adoption records) in 2000, New Hampshire in 2004, and, most recently, Maine in 2007 (the law goes into effect 1/1/2008). Other states (Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia and Washington) have enacted prospective open records laws (i.e. laws that open records for all adoptions finalized after the law goes into effect). While most of these prospective provisons will have little impact on the post-adoption landscape for at least a decade, they at least have the merit of ensuring that the path to truth and self-discovery will be an easier one for future generations of adoptees and their families...
To learn more about adoption reform efforts in the U.S.–or, better still, to become more actively involved in the struggle for open records–contact the local representative of the American Adoption Congress (www.americanadoptioncongress.org). White Oak's Executive Director, Melisha Mitchell, is the AAC's State Rep in Illinois...