WA Lawmakers Debate Adult Adoption Bill

By Steve Jackson

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow those who have been adopted to find out who their birth parents are.

Under current law, Adoption records in Washington State are sealed.

If someone was adopted after 1993, state law says the Department of Health can provide a Birth Certificate copy to an adoptee 18 or older unless the birth parent has filed affidavit of non disclosure.

People adopted before that date may not access their Birth certificate unless directed under court order.  House Bill 1525 would allow a person access to their original Birth Certificate.  Representative Tina Orwall, herself an adoptee, is a co sponsor of the bill. 

Orwall: "I understand and one of the issues that has come up for me is lack of medical history you really have very little knowledge of any medical conditions, and I as someone who is forty something there is a little window of time, especially if you hope to contact a birth parent or siblings.”

Testifying at a Senate Human services committee hearing, Colleen Florio Montgomery was one adoptee who testified how important finding her birth family has been. Montgomerey utilized a private party called a “Search Angel” to help her track down her family.

Montgomery: “I want to see all adoptees be given the same opportunities that I have been given. What it’s done for me to be able to know my origins is dramatic. The fact I get a relationship with my mother and siblings is icing on the cake, but the peace has come from being able to know who I am."

But the House Bill still contains a provision that the Birth parents of adoptees can still bar the state from releasing a Birth Certificate to the person whom it pertains.

Adoptee Lori Jeske of Spokane was one who testified against that portion of the bill:

Jeske: “I oppose this bill because it is just riddled with affidavits of non disclosure, all sorts of restrictions and conditions. Please amend this bill, and send it back to the house , strip all the conditions and restrictions out”. 

House Bill 1525 has passed the State house, and received a hearing in a Senate committee.

[Credit goes to TVW for providing the audio from the hearing.]

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