I sent the following letter to Representative Richard Stark, who represents much of Broward County in the Florida House of Representatives. He is also a New York-born adoptee. He is expected to introduce adoptee-related legislation in the upcoming 2019 Florida session, and is running unopposed in Florida’s upcoming legislative election for his district.
Dear Representative Stark:
I appreciate your recent legislative efforts on behalf of adult adoptees who are working to end the discriminatory treatment preventing them from obtaining copies of their own original birth certificates. As you know, adoptees until 1977 had a right to obtain their own original birth certificates in Florida upon request at age 18.
I understand that you may again introduce legislation in the 2019 session. While adoptee rights advocates are monitoring the outcome of Fall elections to determine next year’s political landscape, I believe it may still not be a proper time in Florida to introduce legislation on this issue. Without substantial change in the legislature or in the governor’s office, legislation in Florida will most likely result in a badly compromised law, similar to laws recently enacted in South Carolina and Missouri.
If you still seek to introduce legislation, I enclose a draft bill that builds on Alabama’s current law, enacted in 2001. Alabama, like Florida, did not prevent adult adoptees from obtaining their own original birth certificates until late in the 20th century. For Alabama, that occurred in 1991. Prior to 1991, adoptees in Alabama had an unrestricted right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificates upon request once they became adults. That right was restored through enactment of legislation in 2001, and no problems have been reported in the state as a result of the law.
I ask that you support the attached bill. As you know, I do not support discriminatory provisions, such as date-based eligibility or birth parent vetoes and redaction measures. The enclosed bill is simple, does what it needs to do, and reflects a position that dozens of local and national organizations—as well as millions of adoptees and their allies— strongly support.
The enclosed draft legislation does four primary things:
- Restores the right of Florida adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates upon request from the registrar of the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. The adoptee must be at least 18 years of age and pay the normal fee associated with requesting a copy of a birth certificate.
- “De-links” birth certificates from court records by removing a provision in Section 63.162, subd. 2. This provision was added in 1977 and inappropriately engaged a court process in attempting to obtain a non-court vital record. The enclosed proposed legislation removes that link. All other court records remain sealed and confidential and available only pursuant to current law.
- Allows descendants of adult adoptees to request and obtain the original birth certificate if the adult adoptee is deceased.
- Allows those whose birth certificates were sealed by legitimation or paternity proceedings to obtain their original birth certificates. This is identical to the law in Alabama.
Again, the legislation is simple and straightforward and would get Florida on par with its neighboring state of Alabama and with eight other states in the country. If you seek a bill this coming session, I ask that you support this proposed legislation and that you decline to introduce legislation that fails to provide adult adoptees with an unrestricted right to obtain their own OBCs.
ADOPTEE RIGHTS LAW CENTER PLLC
Gregory D. Luce