Ind. adoptees to gain birth records access
Only some states offer fully open access to adoptees’ birth certificates, according to the Adoptees Rights Demonstration website.
In Indiana, the process to find pieces of one’s identity is long and difficult. Adult adoptees must have been legally adopted before Jan. 1, 1994, in order to file a written consent along with their birth parent, but even that can get complicated.
“The registry really doesn’t help anybody because it’s not advertised,” said Pam Kroskie, the American Adoption Congress Midwest Regional director. “People don’t know about it. It’s called a passive registry, and the only problem with that is if the person (birth parent) is deceased they’re not going to register. And if they don’t know about it, they’re not going to register.”
Pam Kroskie has experience with the system as an adoptee who has been reunited with her birth mother and sisters for 21 years.
“I found my birth mom when I was 22 years old,” she said. “From that day on, I decided that I would help adoptees and birth parents. That’s kind of how it started, and I became part of the American Adoption Congress later on.”
Kroskie and the American Adoption Congress are keeping their fingers crossed for Senate Bill 469, which will be heard by Indiana’s judiciary committee Feb. 9.
If the bill is passed, starting on July 1, 2012, it will give adoptees the right to their identifying information (unless the birth parent has filed a non-release form) regardless of when the person was legally adopted, according to the Indiana General Assembly.
“Adoptees (born in) 1941 and previous and adoptees (born in) 1993 and forward have the ability to have access to their identifying information,” Kroskie said. “But the adoptees between those years don’t have access to their identifying information or their original birth certificate. That’s what this bill is going to change.”
Kroskie said some adopted parents want the adoptees’ records sealed because they fear that the birth parent would take the child back. She said that doesn’t exist, and it’s very rare that it would happen.
There are circumstances when the reunion between the birth parent and adopted child is a celebrated one. Sara Martindale, a birth mother who gave her child up for adoption, was reunited with her daughter a few days before New Year’s Eve.
She said she had to go through a tough process to find her daughter and realized there were many faults in the system to find a biological family member.
“If she would’ve hired a CI (Confidential Intermediary) to come look for me, they wouldn’t have been able to give her anything if I didn’t agree to it,” Martindale said. “Both people have to agree to it, which in a sense to me, isn’t right either because that is still denying her legal rights. We are all born with an identity and the children who are placed under adoption are denied their original identity if both parties don’t agree.”
Martindale sought to send her daughter’s personal background information, including medical records.
“It’s things that people take for granted because when you’re born to somebody, you always know your medical history,” she said. “But when you’re born and then you’re given for adoption nobody knows anything about you. I filled out all this paperwork, and I thought it was going to be given to her parents so at least they can know her medical history.”
Martindale said she kept pictures from when her daughter was a baby so she could show them to her one day.
“I had the pictures of her from the minute she was born,” Martindale said. “I actually have a book that I kept of her and her footprints and all these little things that people don’t think too much about. I kept a hold of all that so I could show her and she can say, ‘Oh, I did exist before I was 1 month old because my (adopted) parents don’t have that missing piece.’ But I do. I have the beginning of her life.”
Even though at times the process proves to be time-consuming and complex, the ultimate benefit is in finding the missing piece of identity, offering closure.
“By finding her at least I have that closure and that peace of mind now,” Martindale said. “I can at least know that I did right by her.”
To find more information about adoptees’ rights in Indiana, contact Pam Kroskie at email@example.com.
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