Committee Discusses Opening Adoption Records
Special Report - January 30, 2008
A new study committee appointed by North Carolina Speaker of the House Joe Hackney (D-Orange) is looking into the feasibility of opening sealed adoption records in North Carolina. The formation of the House Select Committee on Adoptee Birth Certificates comes on the heels of a failed attempt during last year’s legislative session to allow adult adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. Such a change in the law would allow adoptees to identify and contact their biological parents, even if the biological parents did not consent to the release of this confidential identifying information. Instead of passing the original version of HB 445Access to Information for Adult Adoptees during the 2007 Session, state lawmakers approved a modified bill that allows adoption agencies and local departments of social services to act as “confidential intermediaries” between adult adoptees and biological parents of adoptees, but only after receiving the written consent of the parties involved.
During its inaugural meeting on Monday, January 28, the House Select Committee on Adoptee Birth Certificates heard from two attorneys on the status of North Carolina’s adoption law. The Committee, chaired by Rep. Margaret Dickson (D-Cumberland), consists of 14 members and is charged with studying “issues related to adult adoptees having access to their original birth certificates.” The Speaker’s directive establishing the committee authorizes it to consider:
- The laws of states that allow an adult adoptee access to the adoptee's original birth certificate.
- The impact of contact preference forms in the states that allow adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates.
- The actual number of sealed adoption records in North Carolina and the anticipated number of original birth certificates that would be requested if North Carolina provided access to original birth certificates.
- Legal challenges in other states relating to confidentiality issues with respect to adoption.
- The history of the sealed adoption records in North Carolina.
- Abortion and adoption rate comparisons in states with access to original birth certificates.
- Whether an adult adoptee should be 21 years of age to access his or her original birth certificate.
- Whether the term "just cause" needs to be defined with respect to persons needing to petition the court system.
- Whether siblings should be allowed in the confidential intermediary process.
- Whether other family members should be allowed to act with the confidential intermediary if the birthmother is deceased.
- Access to the birth information by persons adopted prior to the legal sealing of adoption records.
- Any other issues the Committee considers relevant to this topic.
The Committee is scheduled to meet again on February 13 in Raleigh.
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