All Adoption Records And Original Birth Certificates Available To Ohio Citizens
New Ohio Law Gives Adoptees Easier Access To Adoption Birth Records
UPDATE – March 20, 2015, is the first day that individuals adopted in Ohio between January 1, 1964, and September 18, 1996, can pay a $20 fee, and fill out a request form to get a copy of their original birth certificate and certificate of the adoption. Ohio now becomes the twelfth state to provide ALL of their adopted citizens access to their adoption records. This will affect up to 400,000 people who have previously been denied access to their Ohio birth records.
To learn more about this process, view this comprehensive 8 minute video from the Ohio Vital Statistics.
To obtain the request form go to: www.odh.ohio.gov/vs
Here is the backstory from my article from May 10, 2014, posted on the Ohio Family Law Blog.
A new law in Ohio will unseal records for about 400,000 Ohio adult adoptees. This law, Senate Bill 23, was signed by Gov. John Kasich on December 19th. This new law will unseal records and allow these adoptees to find who their birth parents are. This is done by allowing adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates, which list their birth parents. This legislation was the sixth attempt to address this issue in the last 25 years, Adoption Network Cleveland founder and Executive Director, Betsie Norris, said in a statement.
Birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents and adoption scholars and professionals all testified in favor of this bill,” she said. “There was no stated opposition, and we are also thrilled that the bill had such overwhelming support in the Ohio Legislature.
The previous law regarding this type of discovery was very convoluted. Essentially, one law had three separate requirements depending on your age and adoption time period.
Previously, anyone adopted prior to 1964 had to pay a $20 fee, and make a request in order to receive their original birth certificates. This portion was fairly straight forward and is essentially what the new law has morphed into, minus the age requirements.
The second part of the previous law was a bit stricter. If you were adopted from 1964-1996, you could only receive your birth certificate with a court order. These court orders were quite rare.
Finally, if you were adopted after 1996, you could pay a $20 fee to obtain your birth certificate, unless your parents requested the file be sealed. If the birth parents requested a sealed file, there was nothing that the adoptee could do to obtain their records.
The new law doesn’t change the fact that children adopted after 1996, whose parents requested their files be sealed, will not be able to access these birth certificates. The main effect this law will have is for the middle section of adoptees, born between January 1, 1964 and September 18, 1996. These adoptees will be able to pay a $20 fee, file a request, and obtain their birth certificates.
This law is significant as these individuals were often unable, without a lengthy and expensive process, to obtain their records. This could have positive impacts on older adoptees who are getting married and looking to have children; even if they’re not intrigued by learning who their birth parents are, they will be able to access these records and look into the family health history and have a better idea of situations in their future children.
One possible negative scenario will be birth mothers before 1996 that gave a child up for adoption at a young age and decided to conceal this information may not have a choice anymore. There is a process which the birth parents can each take in order to remain hidden to the adoptee. The process starts with filing a CPF or “Contact Preference Form.” This form outlines whether or not the birth parent wants to be contacted, and if they do want to be contacted, how. They then give this form to a third party agency which will handle the adoptees request to contact. It is important to note though that birth parents must file these forms individually and cannot file for each other.
Further building on the CPF provision is the birth parents redaction provision. This provision of the new law allows birth parents to file a request to have their name redacted from the original birth certificate, and any other information that the adoptee might receive, effectively sealing their identity. Upon filing one of these, the state will request that you submit medical records, as these may be very important to adoptees considering children of their own. It is also important to note with this provision that it is not permanent. A birth parent can come forward at any future time and have the redaction form vacated, restoring their identity and allowing the adoptee to find out who they are. This may be an effective tool for birth parents that aren’t emotionally ready for their adoptee children to discover them, essentially delaying the process. This provision does expire in March of 2015 though, meaning birth parents must file before then or their names cannot be redacted from the prospective forms.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.