State law to open access to adoptee’s birth certificates

Published 11:47 am Monday, February 23, 2015

DAYTON (AP) — Many adopted Ohioans will find it easier to get their birth certificates under a state law going into effect next month.

The law allows individuals adopted between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996, to request their adoption files from the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. This will give about 400,000 adoptees easier access to birth certificates that may provide medical history information, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Birth certificates before and after those dates already are considered public records. But a 1996 change to Ohio law wasn’t made retroactive to include adoptees born between those dates, meaning they had to petition courts for access. The new law includes adoptees born in that 32-year period.

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Birth parents from that period have until March 19 to have their names removed from the records. The law signed in 2013 required a waiting period before adoptees and their adult direct descendants could request their adoption files and birth certificates. But they may make those requests beginning March 20.

As of Wednesday, 74 birth parents had requested their names be removed from the records, said Rena Boler, adoption manager for the Office of Vital Statistics. But Boler said birth parents wanting to redact their names must complete a social and medical history that could later be seen by an adoptee.

Birth parents may also complete a form indicating whether they wish to be contacted by a biological child who subsequently requests the records. Those forms must be signed and notarized along with two forms of identification and returned by mail or in person to the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus. Only biological parents may complete the form.

Beth Miller, of Centerville, is eager for the new access. She was born in Cleveland at a hospital for unwed mothers and adopted in 1967.

Miller found her birth mother last year with the help of Adoption Network Cleveland. The two haven’t met, but communicate online, she said. She hopes records obtained under the new law will help her identify her birth father.

“That feeling of knowing who you are, even if it was a name and a face that you can connect to,” she said. “I want that for other people.”