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Open Adoption Records Bill Passes Senate Committee

State of Indiana

Efforts to open records from Indiana’s closed adoptions era – 1941 to 1993 – have failed for years, largely to shield birth mothers who don’t want to be contacted. 

But changes made to this year’s version of the bill are already showing signs of changing minds and ensuring the measure’s passage.

Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) sought to include more choices for birth mothers in this year’s adoption records legislation. 

Instead of just choosing whether to allow or deny contact, mothers can release only medical records to their children or allow contact through an intermediary. 

Advocates such as Ryan Griffith hope it’s the formula that will lead to passage.  Griffith, with his adoptive mother nearby, says opening the records is about children wanting to know who they are.

“On Mother’s Day, I give that woman a Mother’s Day card,” Griffith says. “But in the back of my head – who is my mother?  What is my heritage?  I don’t know that.”

Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend) voted against the measure last year; his concern is that some birth mothers won’t know the records were opened and suddenly have a child they didn’t want to contact show up at their door.  But he says the changes in this year’s bills have mostly alleviated those fears.

“We’re not likely to reach 100-percent in terms of outreach but I think this will greatly reduce that number and that potential,” Broden says.

The Pence administration, which derailed the bill last year, did not send a representative to testify at Wednesday’s Senate committee hearing.  The committee unanimously advanced the measure.  

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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