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  #1  
Old 02-14-2012, 05:58 PM
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paigeturner paigeturner is offline
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A challenge and request of adoptive parents from WA State

Adoptive parents from WA State, we need your help!

WA HB 2211 would allow adult adoptees access to their OBC. The measure was voted out of the House of Representatives on Saturday February 11, 2012. It has been referred for consideration to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator James Hargrove has not been inclined to hold a hearing on this issue in the past. He’s receiving letters from adult adoptees and birth parents, but if the record in the House is any indication, he’ll need contact from adoptive parents to help persuade him to hold a hearing on this bill (I couldn't find any letters from adoptive parents in the House record). Without a hearing the bill will die in committee and it will be another year before advocates can try again.

Please consider sending an email to Senator Hargrove and other committee members asking him to hold a hearing on this important legislation. The link below will take you directly to a list of committee member names with links to their email addresses. I recommend sending an email to every committee member.

Committee Members & Staff

Additionally, it would be helpful to also write to your district legislator as a constituent asking him or her to help advocate for a hearing. You can identify the lawmakers from your legislative district by clicking here:

Find Your Legislator

Thank you for considering lending a hand for this important issue. If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to ask me here or send me a PM.

I’ve pasted a summary of what the bill does below. You can access all of the documents on this bill here:

HB 2211 - 2011-12
Summary of Substitute Bill:

Non-identifying Information.

The disclosure of reasonably available non-identifying information in agency and court files would become mandatory, rather than discretionary, upon the written request of the adoptive parent, the adoptee, or the birth parent.

Disclosure of Birth Certificates.

Regardless of when an adoption was finalized, the DOH must provide an adult adoptee, upon the adoptee's request, a noncertified copy of the adoptee's original birth certificate, unless the birth parent filed a valid affidavit of nondisclosure.

A birth parent may file an affidavit of nondisclosure, regardless of when the adoption was finalized. Affidavits of nondisclosure are valid for five years from the date of filing for adoptions finalized on or after October 1, 1993, and 10 years for adoptions finalized before October 1, 1993. A birth parent may renew the affidavit before it expires by filing a new affidavit and may continue to renew it or file a new affidavit if the previously filed affidavit expired. An affidavit is considered expired upon the death of the birth parent.

Birth parents may file with the DOH a contact preference form indicating whether he or she desires to be contacted. If the birth parent files an affidavit of nondisclosure or a contact preference form, the birth parent must also file a medical history form, created by the DOH.

The medical history form may not request any identifying information.

If the DOH provides a copy of the original birth certificate to an adoptee, the DOH must also provide a copy of any contact preference form and any medical history form filed by the birth parent. If the DOH does not provide a copy of the original birth certificate to the adoptee because the birth parent has filed a valid affidavit of nondisclosure, the DOH must provide the medical history form, and, if the adoptee requests, must attempt to determine if the birth parent is deceased. The DOH must make a reasonable effort to search public records that are accessible and already available to the DOH. The DOH may charge the adoptee a reasonable fee to cover the cost of conducting the search. The adoptee may not request the DOH to conduct a search more than once per year. The affidavit of nondisclosure must include the birth parent's social security number. The DOH may charge an adoptee a fee up to $20 for providing a noncertified copy of the adoptee's birth certificate.
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2012, 06:54 PM
pennu pennu is offline
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I'm a WA adoptee and my (adoptive) parents have always been a huge support regarding my search for my birth family. In fact, if the timing is right, they plan on showing up and testifying in person in support of this bill.

Their unwaivering support of me and my search only brought us that much closer, which is the same with other adoptees who have had supportive adoptive parents. Something about the fact that they are supportive instead of resistant and fearful, well, you just gotta love that! And besides, my parents know they're 'stuck' with me forever. ; )

I do hope more adoptive parents will join us in support of this legislation!
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  #3  
Old 02-15-2012, 07:46 AM
tacosalad tacosalad is offline
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I don't live in Washington, but my daughter was born there and I fully support her right to access her original birth certificate. I sent a message to the legislators on the committee, but not sure how effective it'll be since I don't have a Washington address. I hope that the bill passes, even if it's not perfect it's a step in the right direction (I personally don't think birth parents or anyone else should have the right to deny a person their original birth certificate).
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:49 AM
usisarah usisarah is offline
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Anyone who is a resident should consider writing. This is not just about adoptee rights. It's about civil rights. IMO, we all deserve the right to our birth info.
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  #5  
Old 02-15-2012, 01:45 PM
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paigeturner paigeturner is offline
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Thank you Taco and Sarah!!!!

Taco, a letter to the committee from you is very relevant as your child's OBC is in WA regardless of where you live now. Thank you so much for helping out!
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2012, 09:18 PM
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1000amys 1000amys is offline
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Okay, I sent this to all committee members:

I am writing to you because I understand your committee has the opportunity to advance HB 2211, which would allow adoptees in Washington State to access their original birth certificates. As a parent of two daughters through adoption (one born in Oregon and one in Washington), I think it is crucial to their identity formation that they have access to information about their biological families. I have carefully guarded evry piece of information we received about their birth families, in order to be able to answer questions they have and to empower them when they are adults to have control over their own information. I can't see any reason for secrecy, when this directly concerns them.

Additionally, what is completely ridiculous is that my father and I are unable to get any information on the adoption of his biological mother by his grandparents in 1919. While we can get copies of her amended birth certificate, post adoption (she was born in Seattle in 1914), we are not allowed to see the original birth certificate or find out who our biological ancestors are. This is particularly distubing for my dad, who was himself adopted (I know; it's complicated). He knows who his biological parents were, but has hit a dead end in trying to trace his biological heritage past his birth mother. There is no one who would be harmed by the disclosure of this information. My father's biological parents have been dead for decades. His grandparents (his biological mother's adoptive parents) are long dead. His adoptive parents are dead. Even census records become public after 70 years, for exactly this reason.

I would appreciate it if you and your committee would give this bill, which protects the privacy of living birth parents, a hearing this year.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

So, be sure to let us know when/if it gets out of committee, and I'll e-mail my legislators then. I thought my dad's story was a good one to illustrate how stupid it is to close off access to that information.

Thanks for letting us know!
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  #7  
Old 02-16-2012, 12:01 AM
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Thank you so much!!!! This means a lot! I'll keep you posted.
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  #8  
Old 02-16-2012, 12:01 AM
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Thank you so much!!!! This means a lot! I'll keep you posted.
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  #9  
Old 02-16-2012, 12:10 AM
pennu pennu is offline
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THANK YOU to all of you have written so far! Let's keep 'em coming!

1000amys - That story of your dad's is just nuts! Even more nuts because they didn't start sealing up original birth certificates until 1943, and then they retroactively sealed all the adoptions prior to that time.

Some of the arguments against unsealing them now is that you can't change the adoption law now for adoptions that were done previously yet that's exactly what WA and most all other states did when they started sealing records in the 1940s-1950s.

Thanks again! : )
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  #10  
Old 02-18-2012, 09:58 AM
usisarah usisarah is offline
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I heard the bill died in committee. Too bad. Hopefully it comes back around. It amazes me that a bill can be passed unanimously in one house and not get to see the light of day in the other chamber. It should have at least gotten a vote in the senate.
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  #11  
Old 02-18-2012, 10:26 AM
pennu pennu is offline
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Yes, it's true. Senator Hargrove from Hoquiam/Port Angeles killed this bill once again, third year in a row.

Many legislators are holding town hall meetings this weekend and next in their home districts. I'm going to Senator McAuliffe's town hall this morning with one of my birth sisters. Sen McAuliffe is also on the Senate Human Services & Corrections committee, the very committee that the chair Hargrove kills our bills repeatedly.

I encourage all of you that are NOT OK with a handful of individuals deciding legislation in this state to attend a town hall in your area.

Couldn't find a list of Republican town halls but here are some democrats: you're not OK with a few individuals controlling all the legislation in Olympia, go ask some questions of your legislators: http://senatedemocrats.wa.gov/​townhall.html
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  #12  
Old 02-23-2012, 11:57 AM
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paigeturner paigeturner is offline
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Yes. It did not make it out of the Senate Committee. There was a lot of pressure put on the Chairman from some unexpected sides, but he held firm; it happens all too often that one person can ignore the wishes of many just because of a leadership status.

Frankly, moving this bill in the future is going to hinge on a change of control in the Senate or finding a champion with equal power who would be willing to play hardball with Hargrove’s pet bills in order to get this thing moved. The short session with the compressed timeframes made passage even more difficult.

Still, I am an optimist; a cynical optimist, but an optimist all the same!

Thanks to everyone who wrote to their members. It helps.
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  #13  
Old 02-26-2012, 12:26 PM
pennu pennu is offline
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For those of you interested in this issue, there were a couple articles published this week in local newspapers:

1. Adoption Bill Stuck in Place. House: Chairman of Human Services won’t say why he won’t move it on

2. Follow-up the next day: Hargrove explains concerns with adoption bill

The plan is to try to get something passed next year.

To keep up on what's happening, see the following pages:
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