Adoption Equity Ohio and the Adoption Network Cleveland have teamed together to form the legislative campaign Restore Ohio Adoptee Rights (ROAR!). Roar! has proposed the legislative bills SB23 and HB61 that would allow Ohio adoptees who were born 1964 to 1996 unconditional access to their Original Birth Certificates (OBC’s). If both bills pass, the new law would allow adoptees to go directly to the Bureau of Vital Statistics to obtain their birth certificate. UPDATE: On March 13th House Bill 61 was unanimously passed out of committee, completing a 4th step to get both bills passed into law. The next step in the House is a floor vote.
In honor of these bills, I recently submitted a Letter to the Editor for the Youngstown, Ohio newspaper The Vindicator, hoping that viewers read it and understand how important the issue is. The issue becomes especially vital because Youngstown, Ohio housed many unwed mothers at their Florence Crittendon home before and after the time I was born. For both birth mothers who lost their children, and for adoptive parents, they need to know that their children will either face another governmental door slamming in their faces or an open door leading to potential reunification, the infant becoming an adult, and legitimacy.
Here is my letter:
Dear Editor Todd Franko,
Although my birth father and I reunited nearly 40 years after I was adopted in Youngstown, Ohio, I still do not own or have access to my original birth certificate. Because other Ohio adoptees also desire ownership of their birth certificates, the law may soon make that happen. With the recent introduction of Ohio House Bill 61 and Ohio Senate Bill 23, legislation would now allow Ohio adoptees access to their original birth certificates, as well as allow birth parents the option to be contacted or not.
ROAR! (Restore Ohio Adoptees Rights in 2013) has been the catalyst to make Ohio Bills HB61 and SB23 become law. ROAR! was founded to help change Ohio’s outdated adoptee laws and to allow Ohio adoptees born between 1964 and 1996 access to their original birth certificates and records. Due to ROAR!’s hard work, many Ohio legislators have sponsored the Adoptee Bills and are now moving into the next phase of law. Ohio’s Right to Life organization has even reconsidered their past stance and is now a sponsor of the 2013 Adoptee Bills!
Recently, many adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption professionals, and adoptees all testified that to deny adoptees access to their original birth certificates is to deny them of their human rights. Imagine not having access to your medical history, or being denied a relationship with your siblings, or having difficulty forming your identity. This is the reality that many adopted persons experience today and will continue to face without the passing of Ohio Adoptee Bills HB61 and SB23.
Please visit Adoption Equity Ohio’s website to find out more information and how you can help with this important legislation: http://www.adoptionequityohio.org/
April E. Topfer, PhD, Berkeley, CA
April E. Topfer is President of PACER-adoption in Northern California and a psychologist.
UPDATE: The online Youngstown, Ohio Vindicator called the “Vindy” has not posted my letter. I resubmitted it to two different emails and both bounced back as failed. My automatic thoughts are that some things are slow to change: adopted persons rights being one of them; Youngstown’s politics being another.
UPDATE on UPDATE: The Vindy has posted my letter! You can find it here.