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Bill Would Open Birth Parent Records To More Adoptees

Dave Herholz

Adult Hoosiers who were adopted would gain broader rights to learn their birth mother‘s name, under a bill headed for the Senate floor.

Children adopted since 1994 can get their original birth certificate unless the birth mother opts out when she agrees to the adoption. Sen. Brent Steele‘s (R-Bedford) bill would extend that right to adoptions before that time.   

But Indianapolis adoption attorney Steve Kirsh warns the bill could take an emotional toll on birth mothers.   

"The risk of doing that could be horrific to those women who don't want to be contacted," Kirsh says. "Does the General Assembly have a right to take a risk of ruining someone's life or hurting them terribly to serve the 90-percent?"

The bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with only two dissenting votes. Sen. Susan Glick (R-LaGrange) voted for the bill, but says she‘s concerned it could blindside women who relied on assurances of confidentiality.

"The court made promises to individuals concerning their privacy. To wholesale throw the door open, I think would be unfair," Glick says. "People who may no longer live in the State of Indiana, who may not have access to the announcement that we've changed the law -- those people aren't going to know."

Indiana law allows a court to appoint an intermediary to make confidential contact with mothers in pre-1994 adoptions. Supporters of the bill charge intermediaries cost too much and often aren‘t properly trained. Kirsh says even with the bill, adoptees might still need an intermediary or investigator, since adoptive birth certificates supply only the mother‘s name.