October 20, 2015
Adult adoptees from Indiana are now one step closer to accessing basic information about their identity. Today, the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary voted unanimously 10 to 0 in favor of legislation, which if passed would give adult adoptees from Indiana’s “closed records” period access to birth records which have been sealed to them.
Advocates from Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, a non-profit formed to push for adult adoptee access legislation in Indiana, praised the interim study committee for hearing the concerns of adoptees.
“We’ve been working to get justice for adoptees for years, and I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see legislators lining up to support us on this issue,” said Pam Kroskie, president of HEAR. “We are grateful the committee members have helped clear the first hurdle toward a new law that will help provide adult adoptees with the answers the desperately need – and deserve.”
Senate Bill 352 authored earlier this year by Sen. Brent Steele (R), and signed by Sen. Mike Delph (R) and Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D), sailed through the Senate during the 2015 legislative session but stalled in the House of Representatives. Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records is backing a similar bill to come before the Indiana General Assembly in January, which after today’s vote, will now be considered by lawmakers.
Under current law, Indiana has two classes of laws for adoptees. Adoptees adopted after 1994 have access to their records as a matter of law. Adoptees from 1941 through 1993, Indiana’s “closed records” period, are forced to use a difficult and expensive intermediary system for getting their records—causing many to quit their search in frustration, or never start. The new law will equalize the law for all adoptees. Having their adoption files and original birth certificate will help adoptees with everything from feelings of closure, to having a complete family medical history, to eliminating the paperwork problems that come from having an adoptee’s “amended” birth certificate.
“We will be able to achieve our dream of being able to find out the most basic parts of our identity—our birth name, where we were born, who our parents were,” Kroskie said. “We believe we shouldn’t have to give up those civil rights, just because we are adopted.”
To keep a direct line of communication with the public and legislators, HEAR has created a website that offers updates on the bill and an interface for easily writing legislators with messages of support, at http://www.indianahear.org.