While the big states of New York and Texas seem to get the attention, there’s promising news out of Iowa, where the Iowa Adoptive and Family Coalition has been working for the last few years to pass clean legislation. Two clean bills, now reported to be identical, have made it out of the first “funnel”—a legislative deadline for bills to be voted out of committee.
If these bills remain clean it will be a major and rare accomplishment: a clean bill substituting for one that began dirty. And that’s what happened, four weeks after the terribly discriminatory bill was introduced.
- Provides the unrestricted right of an adult adopted person at age 18 to request and obtain a non-certified copy of his or her original birth certificate from the Iowa Department of Public Health;
- Allows a birthparent to file a genuine contact preference form. The CPF does not affect the release of the original birth certificate, though one provision is slightly worrying: for birthparents who wish to have no contact, the contact preference form states that “my personally identifiable information may be released if requested in accordance with Iowa Code section 144.24A.” (emphasis added). Although I do not read this clause to prohibit release of an OBC, it adds an unnecessary permissive attribute to the release;
- Allows an “entitled person” also to request and obtain the OBC. An entitled person is defined as “the spouse of the adult adopted person or an adult related to the adult adopted person within the second degree of consanguinity.” This will allow a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild to request the OBC of an adopted person even when the adopted person is alive. Though this seems odd, it is equivalent to what is currently allowed for non-adopted Iowans who wish to obtain a person’s birth certificate.
The bill, if enacted, would be effective August 1, 2019, and would give the right to request the OBC immediately to Iowan adoptees who were born prior to 1970. For the youngsters born after 1969, the effective date is July 1, 2020. This is the only provision that does not make the bill “squeaky clean,” meaning that it treats some adoptees differently than others. But an eleven month wait for implementation, if it appears necessary, is reasonable so long as that provision will not be used to add more or discriminatory restrictions. I can’t quibble with it but it would be better to make implementation effective on July 1, 2020, for all adoptees.
You can follow the Iowa Adoptive and Family Coalition on Facebook for latest updates. The Adoptee Rights Law Center map of pending legislation has also been updated to reflect the movement of these bills.