Texas law is dominated by the use of a centralized file to control the release of any information, including an adopted person’s original birth certificate. Government control and enforced secrecy, however, has not always been Texas law.
First Adoption Law
Shortly after becoming a state, Texas enacts a law in 1850 that provides for the adoption of “legal heirs.” The law relates primarily to inheritance rights of adoptees. Adoptions are treated and filed in the same manner as deed transfers for property.
Updated Adoption Law
Additional provisions for Texas adoption law are added but court involvement is not required other than to terminate an adoptive parent’s custody if the parent is deemed abusive. The new law in part also prohibits transracial adoptions.
Sealing of OBCs After Adoption
Texas seals the original birth certificate upon issuance of the supplementary certificate after an adoption, making the OBC available only by court order.
Central Records File
Establishment of the Central Records File, initially managed by the Department of Public Welfare, not by the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
A new law successfully enacted on account of the work of Texas Coalition for Reform and Education (TxCARE) allows adult adoptees who know the identity of birthparents to obtain a noncertified copy of their OBC upon request and without restriction.
Texas State House Representative Joe DesHotel (D) introduces HB984, which passes the House on a 138-1-1 vote. Senator Brandon Creighton (R) carries the bill in the Senate, where the it is reported favorably from the State Affairs committee. The bill does not get a vote by the full Senate. It had 46 co-authors.
Senator Brandon Creighton (R) introduces SB329, which is reported favorably out of the State Affairs Committee, with eleven co-authors. It moves to the Senate floor but is not scheduled for a full Senate vote before the end of the session.
Local and and national organizations join together to form the Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition.
Texas State Representative Gina Calanni introduces HB2725. It would restore the right of an adult adoptee to obtain a copy of his or her own original birth certificate upon request, without discriminatory restrictions.
Texas State Representative Cody Harris introduces HB1386. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passes the bill on a vote of 144-1-5. The Senate bill does not advance before the session ends.
Coalition Work Continues
TXARC continues to work for a bill in the 2023 session that would finally restore a right all Texans once had: the right to a copy of your own birth certificate, without government restrictions or intrusion.
The Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition is a coalition of Texas and national organizations working to secure the right of all Texas adult adoptees to obtain their own original birth certificates, without discriminatory restrictions.