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Adoption records bill heads to governor's desk

February 22, 2016

A bill long sought by Hoosiers who were adopted between 1941 and 1994 and denied their birth records passed the Indiana General Assembly on Monday and heads to the desk of Gov. Mike Pence.

Senate Bill 91 cleared the Indiana House by a 72-24 vote.

The measure would reverse a 1994 law that sealed adoption information that didn't have a disclosure consent form. That means records would be made available beginning in July 2018 unless the biological parents file another nondisclosure form with the Indiana State Department of Health. The bill would also give biological parents additional contact preference options for new adoption cases.

“Today marks a tremendous victory for hundreds of thousands of people adopted in Indiana. Through Senate Bill 91, all adoptees will have equal access to their birth certificate and medical records, regardless of the year they were born,” said Pam Kroskie, president of Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records.  

Kroskie said the legislation allows adoptees to find closure, uncover vital answers about their medical history and cure administrative heartaches that come from having an amended birth certificate.

“We are deeply grateful to the Indiana General Assembly for moving Senate Bill 91 forward, and thank Gov. Pence for his partnership on this critical issue,” Kroskie said. “Thanks to their overwhelming support this session, Indiana adoptees are now on their way to achieving access to the most basic parts of their identity.”

House sponsor Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said the bill puts those placed for adoption from the 1940s to early 1990s on the same legal footing as people born before or after that date. The law will take effect in July 2018 unless vetoed by Pence.

Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, said she could support the bill because the burden was on the parents who placed their children for adoption. Rep. Tom Washburne, R-Evansville, said the bill “troubles me a great deal."

“My concern really is about the people who in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s gave up their child for adoption and maybe they have never told their spouse,” Washburne said. “I just can’t believe there isn’t an expectation of privacy that extended back there.”

Last year, a similar proposal failed in the House after it faced questions from Pence's administration about reversing the promise of anonymity given to birth mothers. No one from the governor's office testified this year.

"Governor Pence wants Indiana to be the most pro-adoption state in the country," Kara Brooks, Pence's spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. "He will give careful consideration to the legislation when it reaches his desk."

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