Ohio Eases Adoption Laws
Ohio has joined an elite group of states that have made it easier for adoptees to access their original birth certificates. Over 400,000 Ohio adoptees will be able to obtain their original birth certificates starting in March 2015 under Substitute Senate Bill 23 signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich at the end of 2013.
When those born before 1964 reached adulthood they have been able to request their original birth records from the Ohio Department of Health. Since 1996 those born after September 1996 have also been able to request their birth records when they reached age 21 unless their biological parents had the file sealed.
Persons born between 1964 and 1996 however were overlooked and previously unable to obtain their birth information. The new law was passed unanimously in both the Ohio House and Senate in December with a 90-day enactment period and then a one-year waiting period during which birth parents have the opportunity to request their names be redacted from an adoptee's birth record.
Betsie Norris of Adoption Network Cleveland has been working to resolve this issue since founding the organization in 1988. Based on experience in other states where were relaxed, she expects few, if any birth parents will seek to remove their names. If they do choose not to be contacted by the adoptee, the law specifies they must at least provide a detailed medical history for the adoptee.
Susie Taylor of Ashland, Ohio generated a lot of publicity after posting a notice on her Facebook page looking for her birthparents. She took a photo of herself with a sign reading: "I am looking for my mother/father. I was born August 20, 1966 in Akron, Ohio. My mother was 18 at my birth. My father was 19."
She was amazed when her post drew over 60,000 hits. She hasn't found her parents yet, and is grateful for the new Ohio law that will hopefully solve her problem. Taylor was born in Akron to an 18-year-old girl who gave her up for adoption. She was not surprised when she was told under the current Ohio law she has no right to her birth document.
An Akron woman, one of the persons who responded to her post, offered to do some research at no charge. She quickly learned the Ohio birth index listed only one girl born in Akron on Taylor's birth date, "Baby girl Burgess." Taylor said she had seen the name "Burgess" scribbled a couple of times in a file her Mom kept on her adoption.
Further research by Taylor's "search angel" turned up a woman now living in Tennessee as a pretty good bet for her birth mother. Taylor wrote her a letter and mailed it on Christmas Eve. She is praying for an answer.
She is interested in learning her family's medical history as she has high blood pressure and her son had a heart murmur. She said. "It's been discouraging because doctors always want to know your medical history and I could never give it."
Taylor was raised a single child, and would love to know if she has any half-brothers or half-sisters. While she would love to develop a relationship with her birth mother, she does not want to stir up bad memories for her or hurt her in any way.
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3 April 2014