State Representative: Clear the Air on Restoring the Rights of Adoptees | Letters

Much has been said in public, on social media, and in personal conversations about my House Bill 450.

HB450 is a simple bill that restores the right of an adult adoptee to access their own original birth certificate, upon request, without hindrance. This bill concerns equal treatment for a group of people who have been detained as administrative wards of the state.

People adopted from Louisiana have two birth certificates. When a child is born, the state creates a certificate that registers the birth. When parents give up a child to be available for adoption, they give up any claim or ability to control that child in perpetuity. It is only when an adoption is finalized that an amended certificate is created, and the original is hidden in the civil registers.

Some naysayers offer the lie that HB450 is about opening adoption records. This is absolutely not the case. HB450 restores access to a single piece of paper that documents his birth.

Some naysayers claim that mothers who gave up on their children were promised some form of privacy and that HB450 would break that supposed promise. If anyone has made such a promise, he has done so outside the bounds of truth. Louisiana law does not guarantee lifetime anonymity. Prior to 1977, all adult adoptees had access, upon request, to their own birth certificate. In 1977, in an effort to protect adoptive families from stigma, the law changed. Now, an adopted adult can only access their OBC if they have enough money to hire a lawyer to go to court. This is financially discriminatory and an affront to the notion of openness.

I have heard from many birthmothers and birthparent organizations representing thousands of people. They tell me that they have not been promised the lifelong anonymity of their own children and that this law is necessary, belated and humane. I have also heard from many adult people who have been adopted and their adoptive parents who support HB450.

Our current laws are based on outdated stigmas and government domination over the lives of private citizens. HB 450 is about fairness and equality before the law.

CHARLES OVEN

state representative

Rosepine

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