When a baby is getting adopted, the state seals their original birth certificate and they’re issued a new one. According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, in Florida, adult adoptees can’t get their original birth certificate without consent from both their adoptive and birth parents. However, a bill by Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston) seeks to change that.
“It shouldn’t be appropriate for a parent to have to say 'yes' or 'no' for somebody’s own story. So I’m in strong support of this," Florida NOW's Kim Porteous told members of the House's Civil Justice Committee.
Instead of both birth and adoptive parental consent, adult adoptees would only need permission from their birth parents to get their original birth certificate. Stark says it’s a complicated process that doesn’t get enough attention.
“So many of us do not feel that we have, you know, rights," he says. He's an adoptee.
“I’m sure that you’d like to know something about your biological past. You may know your parents and maybe you do a family tree and you do all sorts of other things. [That's] not so easy for us to do," Stark says.
Stark's bill may be well intentioned, but Madonna Finney, an attorney who works in adoption law, worries the proposal could allow minors access to their adoption records without consent from their adoptive parents.
“I would just want to make sure that it’s very clear that minor children shouldn’t just kind of willy-nilly be given this information without any guidance. " She says sometimes children were removed for good reasons, and they need guidance when it comes to sensitive situations.
Still, she’s okay with the overall bill, though she doesn’t think it will change much.
“I believe if I have the permission of a birth mother to release information to an adult adoptee I can release that information."
Stark doesn’t believe his bill would allow minor adoptees to access their records without parental consent or court order. He told WFSU he plans on introducing an amendment to clarify that. Stark’s bill passed its second committee hearing. The Senate version has not yet been heard.