A terrible bill is being sent to Idaho Governor Brad Little for consideration and signature. We can at least register our opposition and ask for his veto of the bill.
I’ve written a bit about SB1320, a badly flawed birth certificate bill that recently passed both the Idaho House and Senate. My initial opposition letter is here, and it is has now been redrafted and addressed to Idaho Governor Brad Little. I ask all adoptee rights advocates and their allies to register your voices in objecting to this bill. Please join me and others in doing so. A copy of the letter is below. You can sign on to the letter either as an individual or organization (or both) by completing this form:
Update. The Idaho legislature transmitted SB1320 to Governor Little on March 22, 2022. The letter below was delivered to his office on March 24, 2022. The sign-on form is no longer active.
Text of Letter to Governor Brad Little
March 24, 2022
The Honorable Brad Little
Office of the Governor
Idaho State Capitol
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
RE: VETO OF SB1320
Dear Governor Little:
The undersigned are adopted people, birthparents, adoptive parents, and organizations that serve and advocate for thousands of people impacted by adoption, and specifically those at the center of adoption: adopted people. We request your veto of SB1320, a bill related to an adoptee’s pre-adoption birth records.
SB1320 is deeply flawed legislation that has internal inconsistencies, is overly complex, misunderstands the purpose of state “voluntary” adoption registries, and nonsensically applies to intercountry adoptees. It also has no realistic impact on adopted people until the late 2030s and the early 2040s.
At its core, SB1320 denies Idaho-born adult adopted people the right to request their own pre-adoption birth records from the Idaho Department of Health, a right enjoyed by adoptees in ten other states, including Alabama, Maine, Oregon, and Kansas. Instead, SB1320 mandates the use of a “Voluntary” Adoption Registry, a complicated system that currently requires matching between participants before any identifying information is released between parties, including the adoptee’s own birth record. If there is a “match” under this bill, a waiting or “cooling off” period goes into place, where a birthparent has the option to express a preference for contact with the adopted person or, if desired, to request redaction of information.
The primary substantive issues with this bill include:
- It is silent on what happens if a birthparent does not respond to a match or cannot be found (which is common) during the so-called 30-day “cooling off” period;
- It does not indicate what happens if the birthparent previously requested to be withdrawn from the adoption registry or if they already requested no information be released, even after their death;
- It does not address the issue of two birthparents listed on the birth record, as current Idaho law prohibits registry matching unless the other birthparent is deceased or has been found and consents to release of information;
- Finally, Section 2 of the bill profoundly misunderstands the process and substance of intercountry adoptions but nevertheless requires intercountry adoptees (and their unknown foreign parents) to participate in Idaho’s adoption registry in order to obtain an original birth record. This defies common sense. Intercountry adoptees do not have an original birth record on file in Boise—their original birth record is in their country of birth or, in some cases, filed with the US immigration system and available to them upon request. If an intercountry adoption is finalized in Idaho, the adoptive parents are issued a certificate of foreign birth, which is far different than a birth record issued to Idaho-born residents. Thus, including intercountry adoptees in a registry system to request an original birth record that doesn’t exist in Idaho is baffling. Again, intercountry adoptees do not have an original birth record filed with the vital statistics office in Boise—intercountry adoptees were, by definition, born outside of the United States. Even more baffling, current law governing eligibility to participate in the registry itself explicitly applies only to adopted people born in Idaho, and this bill does not change that. Thus, the bill attempts to make the adoption registry applicable to people who cannot by law use it.
For all of these reasons, we ask that you veto SB1320. It is deeply flawed, denies adopted people their autonomy and full identities, and is a step backward on the issue of the right of all people to possess their own vital records.