State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville) and State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) recently introduced legislation to address disparities in Ohio’s adoption laws.

Specifically, House Bill 61 will permit adult adoptees who were adopted between the years of 1964 and 1996 to access their original birth certificates once they reach the age of 18. Adoptees who were born before 1964 and after 1996 have nearly unfettered access to their original birth records, while it is nearly impossible for adults adopted between these years to obtain the same documents.

“As an adoptive parent and a long-practicing attorney, I know firsthand the challenges that certain antiquated sections of the Ohio Revised Code can present to the adoption community,” said Representative Pelanda. “By giving all adoptees the same access and rights to their personal documents, we will be closing a gap that has caused much grief and stress for those who wish to access those documents.”

House Bill 61 will delay the effective date of the bill for one year after it is signed into law, to give birthparents a chance to voluntarily file a “contact preference form” alongside the birth certificate to make known how or if they wish to be contacted.

“I am pleased to be a part of this bi-partisan effort to make original birth certificates accessible to adoptees. Certainly, this has been an important issue for my family as well as families across the state,” said Representative Antonio.

Throughout the past 15 years, many states have changed their laws to permit adult adoptees to access their pre-adoption birth certificates. Ohio’s inequitable three-tiered system of access has made it very difficult for many adoptees to access this personal document, an issue that House Bill 61 will address if passed by the legislature and signed into law.

House Bill 61 will now be assigned to Committee, where it will undergo thorough consideration and debate.

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