Adoptees born between 1941 and 1994 would be able to access their birth records under a bill passed Thursday by the Indiana Senate.
The measure, approved on a 43-5 vote, would reverse a 1994 measure that sealed adoption information that didn't have a disclosure consent form. That means records would be made available beginning in 2018 unless the biological parents file another non-disclosure form with the Indiana State Department of Health.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
"This bill is so important to adult adoptees across Indiana," Pam Kroskie, president of Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records said in a statement. HEAR has been a vocal advocate for the release of adoption information during Indiana's closed adoption record period, and Kroskie had success in finding her biological parents using the Internet.
Current law allows for avenues for people adopted during those years to seek information about their birth with the assistance of an intermediary. The process can often be costly and time-consuming. Birth parents must also give consent for the release of any identifying information by the state's Department of Health.
Such information can give adoptees insights into important medical information, supporters say.
"This bill would give them an avenue to obtain needed medical information for kidney transplants and breast cancer," Priscilla Kamrath of the Indiana Adoption Agencies United said at a committee hearing last week.
The new measure also gives biological parents additional contact preference options for new adoption cases.
Opponents of the bill say birth mothers should have a right to privacy.
"She gave that child up with the understanding of her right to not be contacted," Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, said just before the vote. "I think if you go back and change this now is I think we'd be going back on that deal we've made with the birth mothers."
But bill co-author Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said the adoption process used to be less formal than it is now.
"There was never a contract with these ladies that we would never ever disclose your identity to anyone," he said.