In cooperation with adoptee rights advocates, including Rebekah Henson of New England Adoptee Rights, I am working to produce a letter from individuals and from local, regional, and national organizations to support passage of Rhode Island’s Senate Bill 250. An identical letter will also be sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which this coming week is considering HB6189, the House companion bill. You can get quick details on the bills here, and the letter below also spells out what the bills specifically do. You can also get details about current Rhode Island law here.
If you are an individual or organization involved in adoptee rights work or in adoption reform—or if you are an ally on issues impacting adopted people—please consider endorsing the letter. You can do so by adding your name on the following form.
Text of Letter
Dear Senate President Ruggiero, Senate Majority Leader McCaffrey, Senate Majority Whip Goodwin, and Members of the House Judiciary Committee:
We represent a broad and diverse constituency of organizations and people involved in adoption, whether adopted people, birthparents, adoptive parents, or family members. We write to express strong support for SB250, which is also co-sponsored by Senator Goodwin. The bill reflects common-sense measures that secure equality for all adopted people born in Rhode Island.
SB250 does three primary things:
First, for adopted people born prior to July 1, 2021, it lowers the age at which the person may request his or her own birth record, from 25 to 18. This reflects the practical reality of being an adult in Rhode Island at age 18.
Second, it provides a right for direct-line descendants of an adoptee to request the original birth record if the adopted person is deceased. Increasingly, the sons, daughters, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren of an adopted person have a simple request: to complete a family’s story and know the full scope of that family’s heritage and history. In states where direct-line descendants do not have such rights, descendants must rely on piecing information together through DNA analysis, archival research, professional genealogists, or requesting court orders. SB250 levels the genealogical playing field for everyone and allows, when the adopted person is deceased, a son or daughter or other descendant to obtain a record of the family’s heritage.
Finally, for adopted people born on or after July 1, 2021, it allows the person to request his or her own original birth record as of the date of birth. With the vast majority of adoptions today following a more “open” concept, this is a necessary and overdue change. More importantly, it works to destigmatize adoption and to reduce the unnecessary and harmful secrecy that has surrounded adoption for decades. People are not secrets. And as the author Gabrielle Glaser recently wrote in her book American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption, adoptions in the past began “with an erased past, facts replaced with myths.” SB250’s provision for more transparency for adopted people makes the recorded past available and preserves facts as real and known, to be handled as we handle all things human. That is solid progress for the people of Rhode Island.
We urge you to bring SB250 forward for a vote before the full Senate. It is a common sense bill that recognizes the inherent dignity, worth, and rights of adopted people and their families.
Organization Endorsements (as of April 18, 2021)
ACCESS RHODE ISLAND
NEW ENGLAND ADOPTEE RIGHTS
Gregory D. Luce
ADOPTEE RIGHTS LAW CENTER PLLC and ADOPTEES UNITED INC.
BASTARD NATION: THE ADOPTEE RIGHTS ORGANIZATION
AMERICAN ADOPTION CONGRESS
NEW YORK ADOPTEE RIGHTS COALITION
TEXAS ADOPTEE RIGHTS COALITION
CAPITOL COALITION FOR ADOPTEE RIGHTS
MARYLAND ADOPTEE RIGHTS
NATIONAL CENTER ON ADOPTION AND PERMANENCY
CONCERNED UNITED BIRTHPARENTS
MINNESOTA COALITION FOR ADOPTION REFORM
ADOPTEES WITHOUT LIBERTY (AWOL)