New Law Will Open Access to Adoptees’ Birth Certificates

Thousands of Ohio adoptees are hoping to learn more about their history, including family medical information, thanks to a law granting them access to their adoption files and birth certificates.

Beginning Friday, individuals adopted between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996, can request the information from the Ohio Department of Health. The new law is expected to give about 400,000 people access to records which had been largely blocked without a court order.

Concerned that adoption records were open to anyone, lawmakers put them off limits in 1964, including to adult adoptees.

Following lobbying from adoptees and their advocates, lawmakers made the records public again in 1996. People adopted in all other years already had access to the records.

But the law was not made retroactive for those caught between the two laws because of pressure from groups, including abortion opponents who feared it would discourage people considering adoption, said Betsie Norris, executive director and founder of Adoption Network Cleveland, and an adoptee who led the fight to change the law.