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Ohio Adoptee's Access to Records Law: A Retrospective

Access to Records: Archives

Update 11: April 9, 2013

ROAR! 2013 – Restore Ohio Adoptee Rights in 2013

IN THIS UPDATE
• S.B. 23 Hearing Scheduled
• Media
• Next Steps
• Action Alerts: Things YOU CAN DO
• About the Bills

Senate Bill 23 Hearing Scheduled
Senate Bill 23 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday April 17th at 2:30 pm. At this hearing proponent (supporter) testimony will be heard. Several witnesses are scheduled to come in for the hearing. As it was in the House Committee, we are planning for this first proponent hearing to be mostly expert witnesses and people who need to travel in from out of state.

We do not yet know how many senate committee hearings there will be, which dictates how many spots there will be for in person oral testimony to be given. We are keeping lists of people interested in testifying — Betsie is keeping track of the adoptees, adoptive parents and professionals, and Kate is keeping track of the birthparents. If you have not yet expressed your interest and would like to, please contact them: betsie.norris@adoptionnetwork.org and katelivingstone@gmail.com. Everyone who desires will get to submit written testimony to the committee (this is different than writing a support letter). We are trying to coordinate oral testimony to be sure the committee hears from people of a variety of backgrounds and that the messages are not repetitive.

We want to pack the room at each hearing, so please show up on the 17th if you can!

Media
The bills generated a huge amount of media in March. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had a front page story on Friday March 22nd, “Ohio bill would open adoption files and untangle confusing law.” Thank you to Adoption Network Cleveland board member Lisa Buescher and former board member Dale Fellows for sharing their stories in this article. This was followed up by a column by Regina Brett, “Adoptees deserve access to their birth records” on Wednesday, March 27, and a Plain Dealer editorial on March 28, “General Assembly should hasten to fix Ohio adoption law.” The Associated Press picked up content from the March 22nd article which was carried by 20-30 print and electronic media outlets across Ohio and in publications in several other states including Conn., Wash., W.V., Ari., Calif., and Ind. This media is helpful both to gather support for the bills and that legislators have wondered if birthparents will be aware if the law changes.

Next Steps
House Bill 61 now goes to the floor of the Ohio House of Representatives for a vote. This could happen as soon as this week, or could take several weeks or longer – this is up to House Speaker Bill Bachelder.

Senate Bill 23 will have at least one more hearing in the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee before the committee votes on the bill. We will send an update when the date of the next hearing is known.

ACTION ALERT: THINGS YOU CAN DO
1. Attend the April 17 hearing to show your support.
2. Write to the members of the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee – emails can be sent through the senate website: http://www.ohiosenate.gov/committee/medicaid-health-and-human-services , see phone numbers below.
3. Be in touch as above if you’d like to testify in person at a hearing or submit written testimony.
4. Write to your State Representative asking them to VOTE YES when House Bill 61 is brought to the floor for a vote. All 99 Representatives need to hear from their constituents on this issue. See below how to find your Representative.
5. Make a financial contribution to help fund our efforts — you can do so by going to www.adoptionnetwork.org/roar2013.aspx or by mailing a check made out to Adoption Network Cleveland, specifying ROAR! 2013 in the memo line, to the address in my email signature below.

Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee:
• Senator Shannon Jones (R), committee chair and SB 23 co-sponsor, 614-466-9737
• Senator Dave Burke (R), committee vice chair and SB 23 sponsor, 614-466-8049
• Senator Capri Cafaro (D), ranking minority member, 614-466-7182
• Senator Edna Brown (D), 614-466-5204
• Senator Randy Gardner (R), SB 23 co-sponsor, 614-466-8060
• Senator Kris Jordan (R), 614-466-8086
• Senator Peggy Lehner (R), 614-466-4538
• Senator Scott Oelslager (R), 614-466-0626
• Senator Charleta Tavares (D), SB 23 co-sponsor, 614-466-5131

About the legislation:
Ohio Senate Bill 23, sponsored by Senators Beagle and Burke, and House Bill 61, sponsored by Representatives Pelanda and Antonio, were introduced February 12, 2013. Senate Bill 23 was assigned to the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee and House Bill 61 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

The bills will allow:
• Ohio adoptees adopted 1964 to 1996* access to their Original Birth Certificate upon request at age 18, starting one year from bill passage date.
• Ohio birthparents to file a Contact Preference Form specifying if and how they would like contact.
• Ohio birthparents to complete and put on file an updated medical history for the adoptee.
(*Adult adoptees from before 1964 in Ohio already have this right, as do the vast majority of adoptees after 1996.)

To find your legislator, visit: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/
For more information, visit: www.adoptionequityohio.org/

Visit http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Adoption-Equity-Ohio/342147335870?fref=ts for media coverage and updates.

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