Columbus Dispatch – Adoption
I would like to share this story with you from today’s front page of the Columbus Dispatch regarding adoption legislation that our pro-life Governor signed yesterday allowing adult adoptees to access their records in Ohio. Ohio proudly supported this bill as it will allow individuals adopted between 1964 through 1996 to access vital personal records, while still allowing birth parents to remain in anonymity.
With adoption being an immediate primary focus of Ohio Right to Life, it is our goal to pass HB 307 right after the New Year. HB 307 is our comprehensive adoption reform legislation to make adoptions less expensive, less bureaucratic and more efficient for families in Ohio. We have great leadership and bi-partisan support for HB 307.
Thank you again for all that you do to serve the cause for LIFE in Ohio. We are blessed to be fighting this fight with you.
With law, all Ohio adoptees get access to records
By Catherine Candisky <mailto:email@example.com>
The Columbus Dispatch Friday December 20, 2013 6:10 AM
For decades, adoptees and their supporters have fought for access to their birth records.
Like-minded lawmakers have introduced numerous bills in the General Assembly over the years, but all were doomed by opposition from anti-abortion forces, including the influential Ohio Right to Life. Those groups feared it would promote abortion because fewer women would opt for adoption if their identities weren’t kept private.
But yesterday, Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life and the father of two adopted children, was among those celebrating as Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill giving an estimated 400,000 adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates.
“Times have changed so much,” Gonidakis said. “Now there is the Internet and Google, and you can find out all sorts of things about people in 10 minutes.”
Senate Bill 23, approved unanimously by the Senate and by a 91-2 vote in the House, will allow those adopted between January 1964 and September 1996 to obtain their adoption files from the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, just like those adopted before and after those dates can.
“This was the seventh bill in 25 years,” said Betsie Norris, executive director of the Adoption Network Cleveland.
“I’m still in the ‘you’ve-got-to-pinch-me’ phase. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Ohio Right to Life’s support was the tipping point in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, she said.
“It was huge,” Norris said. “They took out a lot of the concerns. I never saw it as an abortion issue, but because they had opposed it in the past made it a hot potato.”
Right to Life had opposed such legislation for 40 years, long before Gonidakis joined the organization. When adoption supporters came to him a year ago to encourage the organization to reconsider, he said he couldn’t think of a good reason to continue opposing the bill. He spoke to his board members and they agreed.
“It’s become a non-issue, and it’s just the right thing to do,” he said.
It also created one of those rare times that abortion foes found themselves on the same side as abortion-rights supporters such as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. The two groups did not coordinate their efforts, but both testified at legislative hearings in favor of the bill.
“Politics makes strange bedfellows at times,” Gonidakis said.
Under the new law, records will be available starting in March 2015. There will be a one-year waiting period after the bill becomes law in 90 days to give parents an opportunity to request that their names be redacted from the birth certificates given to the adoptees. Those who do so still must give detailed medical histories that will be available to the adoptees.
The bill also closes a perplexing gap in Ohio law for adoptees born from 1964 to 1996 who have been caught between two laws.
Original birth certificates in Ohio adoptions before 1964 already are available to adult adoptees. In September 1996, the law was changed to allow those adopted from that date forward access to their birth certificates upon reaching age 21, unless the birth parent asked not to be identified.
Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, the sponsor of the House version of the bill, said Right to Life’s support and an amendment to the bill giving birth mothers the opportunity to have their names redacted were key to the bill’s passage.
“We’ve worked so tirelessly for 25 years. I was very emotional” at the bill signing, she said. “ I have been a family lawyer for 31 years, having represented both birth mothers and adoptees, and our youngest child is adopted, and I know how important that document is to her.”
Laura Beth Kirsop
Director of Communications
Ohio Right to Life
(614) 547-0099 ex. 309