Open Adoption Records States: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon… MAINE!

On January 1, 2009, Maine becomes one of the growing number of states that are reopening adoption records to adult adoptees. If you are a Maine adoptee, please see the following press release for instructions on obtaining your original birth certificate. Kudos to OBC of ME and everyone else who worked on Maine’s legislation, well done!

For those who may not be aware, adoption records weren’t always closed. The idea of closing them was originally to protect from public scrutiny, but participants still had access. Later this was skewed into “protecting” participants from each other, sometimes to disguise quasi-legal adoption practices. See E. Wayne Carp’s “Family Matters: A History Of Secrecy And Disclosure In Adoption” and Barbara Raymond’s “The Baby Thief.”

The other civilized (e.g. open records) states are as follows, including links to how you may obtain adoption records from them.

The rest of us are stuck with conditional legislation, ineffective registries and a roulette of red tape. If your state’s not on this list, it should be. Join our efforts in Illinois and elsewhere to promote open adoption records. I will continue to post legislative updates for all states as they become available. If you are working toward open records and have news you’d like to share, please contact me.

Okay, you lucky Maine bastards, here’s the press release! Also note there is a reception on January 2, 2009; contact OBC for ME for details. Congratulations!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Bobbi Beavers
Co-founder, OBC for ME
South Berwick, ME
207-748-3432
rbbeavers@comcast. net

www.OBCforME.org

Cathy Robishaw
Co-founder, OBC for ME
Falmouth, ME
207-671-1375
tmc3910@yahoo. com
www.OBCforME.org.

New Law Affects Maine Adoptees
Maine has restored a basic human right to all Maine-born adult adoptees – the right to know their identity at birth! Just as New Hampshire, Alabama and Oregon legislatures have done in the past 12 years, the 123rd Maine Legislature made the decision in June 2007, via LD 1084, to correct an injustice the Maine Legislature enacted in 1953 when they declared that the original birth and adoption records of adoptees were to be sealed upon adoption of any child after August 8th of that year and leaving adoptees access to their original identity only at the discretion of the courts and only if adoptees knew this fact, which is buried in the cumbersome adoption laws.

Excitement is building as over 130 Maine-born adoptees from around Maine, plus New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, California and other states have already submitted their info to the Maine Office of Vital Statistics. Many, including those living out-of-state, are coming to Augusta to request their Original birth Certificate on January 2, 2009.

Maine LD 1084/Public Law 409 – An Act to Allow Adult Adoptees Access to their Original Birth Certificates (OBC) – goes into effect January 1, 2009. Any Maine-born adult adoptee wishing to receive an uncertified copy of their original birth certificate in-person on January 2, 2009 at the Office of Vital Statistics in Augusta, must contact Lorraine Wilson immediately at the following address, email, or phone and provide her with the information (below) she will need to locate their records:

Lorraine Wilson
Deputy Registrar
Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics
Division of Public Health Systems
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Maine Department of Health and Human Services 244 Water Street 11 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0011
(207) 287-3181
1-888-664-9491 (toll free)
Lorraine.Wilson@ maine.gov

The adoptee information needed:

  • Name after adoption, Date of birth, Town of birth (if known)
  • The relationship of the requestor to the adoptee (i.e., same person, son, daughter, etc.)
  • Contact information of the requestor

In order to receive a copy of his/her original birth certificate on January 2, 2009, an adoptee will still need to download the official state application form from this website: http://www.maine. gov/dhhs/ bohodr/documents /Application% 20for%20Adult% 20Adoptee. pdf. The adoptee must also bring (or mail if not coming in-person) the filled out and notarized form, a certified copy of their current birth certificate, and a $10 check made out to: Treasurer – State of Maine.

Parents of origin (also called birth parents) may also NOW submit information, confidentially, to Lorraine Wilson:

Everyone impacted by this law should read the rules compiled by the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics (Maine Center for Disease Control, DHHS), downloadable at this website: http://www.maine. gov/dhhs/ boh/_rules_ documents/ Adult%20Adoptees %20Access% 20to%20Original% 20Birth%20Certif icate.pdf.
REASONS FOR SUBMITTING THIS INFO EARLY: If an adoptee applies for the first time on January 2, 2009, it is very likely they will not get the uncertified copy of their original birth certificate that day. If birth parents have filled out their forms, adoptees will have updated medical info and possibly a current contact name and address that will expedite searching if that is what an adoptee chooses to do.

ISSUES TO BE AWARE OF:

  • Adoptees who obtain their OBC before a birth parent has submitted their forms will be able to request that DHHS send them the birth parent contact preference and medical history forms.
  • In about 80-90% of the cases, the birth fathers name will not be on the birth certificate (DNA testing has not been available until relatively recently and birth fathers were not always required to be part of the surrendering process as they are now), unless the couple was married.
  • Medical, genealogical and cultural histories are important to many individuals, yet for others, just having the document (β€œthe deed to my person,” as adoptee Robert Hafetz says) will be sufficient at this time.
  • To help people impacted by this law to work through the emotional roller coaster that this information may stimulate, OBC for ME has two adoption triad support group formats: ONLINE at this website – http://health. groups.yahoo. com/group/ obcformesupport/ which requires a prior free Yahoo registration, and IN-PERSON with the next meeting on January 17, 2009, at Norway Savings Bank Community Room, Route 1 South, Falmouth, ME, 10 AM – Noon. There are also support groups in just about every state, province and country on this continent as well as in most overseas countries.

A private reception for adoptees and their families will be held at the Augusta EconoLodge at 5 PM on January 2, 2009. For more information contact Bobbi Beavers, rbbeavers@comcast. net.

Comments

  1. My congratulations to everyone who worked hard for Maine to become an open records state! It is not an easy task to accomplish. But as more states open records I hope it will result in more speaking out to get open records in other states.

    I hope that Illinois will be next!

  2. Thanks for posting our press release, Triona. A minor correction. Maine did not reopen adoption records, which are housed in the Maine Probate Courts. We merely restored the basic human right to unrestricted adoptee access to his/her OBC, which are housed in the Maine Office of Vital Statistics, as any adoptee born and adopted prior to August 8, 1953 could always do and as all non-adopted Maine citizens have always been able to do.

    NINE DAYS TO GO! Bobbi in Maine

  3. Thanks for the clarification, Bobbi, and congratulations. Right now I wish I was born in Maine instead of Illinois!

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