New legislation proposed by Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, would amend state statutes to allow adults who were adopted as children to access their original birth certificates and medical records.
It would be a welcome change for Eileen McQuade of the American Adoption Congress, who said the way records are currently sealed prevent adoptees from understanding their identities.
“Secrecy hurts everyone and not just the adopted person but also the birth parents and the adoptive parents,” she said on Wednesday.
The measure would add Connecticut to the current list of eight states that have unsealed adoption records for adults. Currently, adopted individuals can only access an amended birth certificate without the names of their biological parents.
According to Elizabeth Samuels, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, sealed adoption records are a relatively recent development for state adoption, which itself hasn’t been around that long.
States began adoption programs around the middle of the 19th century and by the 1920s every state had some sort of program, she said. And when states decided to start sealing the records it was generally for the protection of the adopted child, she said.
However, one of the arguments for denying adoptees access to their original birth certificates is to protect the birth mothers who may have thought their identities would be permanently concealed. But Samuels has been studying surrender documents from 25 different states and she said the forms make no such promises. The only promises made are by the biological parents, who promise not to seek out the child, she said.
Birth mothers across the country have said they were never offered the choice of secrecy and many of them support open access, Samuels said.
The bill is currently in the Public Health Committee.