The first reason is equality. HB1386/SB1877 equalizes who in Texas may request and obtain their own birth records at age 18, whether or not that person is adopted or not. If you need more than that single reason, here are twelve more.
- Widespread Impact. An estimated sixteen million Texans have a connection to adoption, with more than 900,000 adopted people born in Texas.
- Broad Legislative Support. HB1386 was overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House on a vote of 144-1.
- Broad Constituent Support. In a recent Texas voter survey of 804 voters, more than 75 percent of Texans “totally favor” restoring access to original birth certificates for Texas adopted people.
Leading state and national organizations also support HB1386 and SB1877, including the Gladney Adoption Center, the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition, Support Texas Adoptee Rights, Concerned United Birthparents, and the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. There is no organized opposition.
- Unrelated to Open Adoptions. Open adoptions relate to the scope of contact existing between adoptive families and birthparents while the adoptee is a child. It has no application to adult adopted people and birthparents, who are free to associate and form relationships as they see fit, no matter the type of adoption.
- Simplifies Current Law. Current law provides a right for adult adoptees to request their own birth record if they can provide and match the names of birthparents on the birth record. The bill simplifies this process, eliminates guessing games at birth names, and provides a single birth record that does not involve using DNA, social media, and other methods that far more publicly disclose the names of biological parents and relatives.
- Fiscally Neutral. Fees paid by adoptees to obtain their own records will keep the law fiscally neutral, if not revenue positive.
- Restores Heritage and Texas State Genealogical Rights and Connections. A birth record allows adult adopted people to join heritage and other genealogical associations, such as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Those opportunities are currently denied to adopted Texans, even those who are fifth or sixth-generation Texans.
- Has Been Implemented in a Broad and Diverse Range of Other States. States as diverse as Alabama, Alaska, New York, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Kansas all have laws providing a right for adult adopted people to request and obtain their own birth records. No issues have been reported from any of these states.
- People Are Not Secrets. Anonymity is a legal impossibility and has never been promised to birthparents who relinquish children for adoption. Adoptive parents have discretion to request a supplementary birth record, and the law has always been intended to “legitimate” the adopted person while preserving and protecting the adoptive family during the time the adoptee is a child.
- Confidentiality Is Assured During the Adoption Process. Current law secures a confidential process in the relinquishment and adoption of a child. That confidentiality remains unchanged by this bill. The release of the original birth record is a confidential release of a document to adults—and only to those authorized by law.
- Adoption Has Always Been About the Best Interest of the Adopted Person. Laws related to adoption require the interest of the child/adopted person as the paramount interest and concern. That does not change even when the adoptee becomes an adult.
- Efforts to Control Contact Between Biological Relatives Have Failed. Tennessee last month repealed a “contact veto,” which since 1999 attempted to regulate contact between biological relatives. The law was never used, was never needed, and cost the state unnecessary expense. Similarly, Texans should be free to do what they want with information about their own births.