Adoption Activists Push (Again) For More Open Birth Mother Records

Oct 27, 2015

Credit Indiana HEAR / http://www.indianahear.org/

A group of adoption activists is renewing a battle to allow adopted Hoosiers to know who their birth mother was.

Hoosiers older than 74 can already get a copy of their birth certificate, and beginning this year, adopted children have access to those records once they turn 21. But Hoosiers born between 1941 and 1993 have to go through a confidential intermediary.

Pam Kroskie with the group Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, or HEAR, argues that's both costly and unnecessary. HEAR and other advocates argue grown children may need to know their genetic history for medical reasons, or may simply want to connect with biological parents or siblings they've never met.

Marcie Roth, who gave up her child for adoption, says birth mothers still have a responsibility to their children.

“Every mother has a right to privacy, that is to say, ‘Please respect my privacy,’” Roth says. “What she does not have, and has never had, is a right to anonymity from her own son or daughter.”

A legislative study committee has recommended giving birth mothers from the blackout period the option to block contact, allow direct contact, insist on an intermediary, or deny contact while releasing the written birth records.

A bill opening birth records without restriction passed the Senate this year but died in the House. The study committee unanimously supported the change, but Rep. Tom Washburne (R-Inglefield) says he has misgivings. He predicts some birth mothers won't realize they're required to opt out of disclosure.

“I really feel for the person who’s in their sixties or seventies and somebody shows up at the door and says, ‘You didn’t file a form, and therefore, we’re going to announce to the world that I’m your kid,’ and your husband says, ‘What?’” Washburne says.