Thursday, July 7, 2016

Missouri: Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates Eased

Last week, according to, the governor signed into law "House Bill 1599, which permits adoptees to obtain a copy of their sealed, original birth certificate and to obtain medical information. Those birth certificates currently can be obtained only by court order. The bill makes provisions for obtaining the consent of the birth parents." The text of the bill can be found here.

The new law is fairly restrictive.  It only allows for an "uncertified copy of the unaltered original certificate of birth to the applicant. The copy of the certificate of birth shall have the following statement printed on it: "For genealogical purposes only - not to be used for  establishing identity." Furthermore, it allows for a birth parent veto. On a more positive note, it does not provide different access depending on when the adoption happened, as some partial access states do (see Illinois and Massachusetts, as examples).  And the age requirement for access is merely attaining adulthood, unlike the requirement that adoptees be 21 years old, as in Delaware or 25 years old, as in Rhode Island.

Given that family law is the province of each state, activist movements to gain access to original birth certificates is hobbled by the need to fight this issue in each of the fifty states.  The American Adoption Congress provides an excellent roundup of the state of the law and reform movements in each state at this link.

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