The letter I sent this morning to all Illinois Senators with regard to HB5428, legislation which purports to open birth certificates but in reality creates bureaucratic and statutory blocks for many if not most adoptees. Access to birth certificates must be unconditional.
I am writing to urge you to vote NO on HB5428, which is NOT an adoptee rights bill, nor is it an open records bill.
This bill – far from opening records or preserving rights – instead creates new statutory and bureaucratic roadblocks between adoptees and their unaltered birth certificates.
Unlike all other citizens, who may simply request and receive a copy of their birth certificate, adult adoptees are regularly treated unequally and are denied their civil right to equal access to government-held records simply as a consequence of their personal circumstances as a minor.
HB5428 does not correct this fundamental injustice and unfairness. While giving lip service to “the basic right of all persons to access their birth records,” the bill’s provisions do not give access to “all” persons. It sets up a bureaucracy that, among other things, would make that access conditional to the whims of others, and conditional on the date of the adoptee’s birth.
If birth record access is a “basic right,” why is an 80 page document required to set forth all the conditions negating that “basic right?”
I would suggest instead that an effective, uncomplicated, inexpensive and non-bureaucratic means to restore this basic right to adoptees may be stated in a single sentence. This is the entire text of the Oregon ballot measure which proposed releasing birth certificates to adoptees. Adoptees in that state have had unconditional access to their birth certificates since 2000.
“Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the state of Oregon shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Oregon pursuant to ORS 432.120 and 432.146. Contains no exceptions.”
Certain parties may claim that there are other conflicting interests that somehow demand that access be made conditional upon the whims of others. Courts have held that those who have relinquished or have lost custody of children no longer hold any rights concerning the adoptee upon relinqishment. The state’s impoundment of birth certificates, denying access to adoptees, is a completely separate matter that has become an unnecessary aspect of the adoption process.
It is long past time that the relationship between the adoptee and the state be recognized to be the same as that of any other citizen. Like all other citizens, adoptees must have these unconditional rights restored to them: the right to obtain government records pertaining to them, and the right to demand that secret, inaccessible files not be held by the state that pertain to them, that document the facts of their birth and early childhood.
Please vote NO on HB5428. Thanks for your consideration.