Missouri allows more birth certificate access for adoptees

Birth Certificate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some Missouri adoptees can now obtain their birth certificates after a state law on adoption privacy was changed to be more lenient.

A state law allowing adoptees born before Jan. 1, 1941, to obtain their original birth certificates went to into effect Sunday, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2byppRh ) reports.

Republican state Rep. Don Phillips, an adoptee previously reunited with his birth parents, sponsored the bill. The Missouri Adoptee Rights movement has lobbied for years for more lenient adoption privacy laws.

Phillips says the bill was passed after a passage allowing birth certificate access to descendants of adoptees, such as children and grandchildren, was removed.

Eight adoptees filled out forms and paid $15 to retrieve their records on Monday. Phillips handed out the certificates after an employee retrieved them from storage.

In January 2018, adoptees born after 1940 and who are at least 18 will be allowed to request their original birth certificates. For that law, birth parents who want to remain anonymous may file a document with the state that would redact their names from the document.

If both birth parents file the same document, the original birth certificate will remain sealed.

Some groups have opposed the changes to the law, arguing that opening records broke a promise of anonymity made to mothers when they agreed to the adoptions.

Advocates for change argue that adoptees’ need to learn essential information about medical histories, relatives and where they come from overshadowing any concerns over identifying birth parents.

“What people I don’t think realize is, the birth certificate is really part of my identity. It’s not just a piece of paper,” said Don Schroeder of Holts Summit.

Schroeder learned the identity of his birth father in 2014 and later connected with a half-brother who lived about an hour away.

“You really don’t know what your true identity is until you get that paper, and you can see your name on it,” Schroeder said.