Legislation allowing adopted adults access to birth certificate awaits final passage

Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 7:47 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Louisiana House Bill 450 awaits final passage. If passed, it would give people who are adopted access to their original birth certificates.

Advocates for the bill said this is a step forward in restoring rights for adopted adults.

“It will allow [adopted] people to be treated with equality under the law and just like every other Louisiana citizen has the right to obtain their own original birth certificate, this will be doing the same thing for adult adoptees,” adoptive mother Tyler Koch said.

Adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates was once legal in Louisiana, but in 1977, that changed when lawmakers moved to restrict adoptees, like Elise Lewis, from accessing vital records.

“When someone is told you’re undeserving about the information about your own birth, that just perpetuates a stigma and shame of adoption, which is something we don’t want. You know, there should be nothing shameful about the way I came into the world,” Lewis said.

HB 450 would essentially reverse that 1977 law, allowing those adopted to access their records once they turn 24.

Some argue the measure is a privacy issue and the wishes of the birth family should be considered.

“This is not an issue about them,” Lewis said. “They surrendered all their rights. This is an issue that should be centered on the adopted person because everything in the adoption should be done in the best interest of the adopted person.”

“This really is a civil rights issue,” Koch said. “It’s not about them. It’s about the adults who now want their information.”

Both Lewis and Koch said anonymity should not be promised in adoptions, especially considering today’s technology and popular at-home DNA testing.

“You know, we just hope to have a nice law at the end of this,” Lewis said.

An amendment to the bill does allow for a contact preference form to be filled out by the birth mother that would be concealed along with the birth certificate until the adoptee reaches 24 years of age. The birth mother can specify whether or not they wish to be contacted at that point.

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