A: This 1987 statute is unbalanced, unjust, antiquated, and in conflict with best practices. Current Florida statute requires that, even as adults, adoptees must seek permission from a court and/or both sets of parents in order to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate (OBC) or other records. Consumer DNA testing has made sealed records all but moot as a means of preventing adult adoptees from locating blood kin. Instead, records access now offers a more private, tactful option.
Q: Did Florida adult adoptees ever have direct access to OBCs and related records in the past?
A: Yes. Legislative history reveals that adult adoptees could (or by statute, should have been able to) obtain a copy of their OBC "and all papers pertaining thereto" upon request until the law changed in 1987. A 1976 unanimous District Court ruling affirmed that statutory language was clear prior to the change, which was not retroactive.
Q: How are other states addressing this issue?
A: Kansas and Alaska never sealed OBCs from adult adoptees. Since 1995, seven more states have retroactively provided unfettered access to adult adoptees in model legislation, balancing interests of birth parents via an optional Contact Preference Form. A total 26 states* have enacted a variety of new laws to increase access to an estimated 2.5 to 3 million files. It's a growing national trend.
*AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NJ, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, WA, WI
Q: What national organizations endorse access to OBCs and certain adoption records for adult adoptees?
A: The list includes the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys; the National Association of Social Workers; the National Foster Parent Association; the Child Welfare League of America; the North American Council on Adoptable Children; and Concerned United Birthparents. Click here to see the list and read their statements.
Q: What about confidentiality?
A: Confidentiality and privacy from the general public is vital in adoption proceedings, and should be preserved. However, a state Court of Appeals has ruled that because a birth parent does not have a fundamental right to have their child adopted, they cannot have a correlative fundamental right to have the child adopted under circumstances that guarantee anonymity from their own offspring. Adoptions disrupt, and some children are never adopted, leaving the OBC as the only identity document.
Q: Does this issue have bipartisan support?
A: Yes, because truth and transparency in adoption is a human issue. Bills have been sponsored and cosponsored by members of both parties in Florida and various other states. Truth and transparency in adoption is simply good policy that balances the interests of the parties and helps to protect against child trafficking.