ohio opens birth records to adoptees

Triumph in Ohio

Another One Bites the Dust

Remember when I predicted that glasnost would come to adoption? That the walls erected in the name of shame and secrecy will inevitably fall, state by state, thanks to the hard work of adoption reform activists around the country –because anything built on a foundation of shame and secrecy simply isn’t sustainable?

Well, another wall has fallen, and the number of closed states in my original post just last year is off now by at least 3 (click here for a current count). ohio opens birth records to adopteesAdd Ohio to the list of state legislatures that have restored civil rights to adult adoptees.


I’m participating in this week’s social media thrust, tagged #ohadopteelaw, to highlight a bill that was passed in 2013 and goes into effect March 20. From organizer Adoption Network Cleveland (and my friend Linda Schellentrager):

In 2013 Adoption Network Cleveland achieved a major success towards our long term legislative goal of gaining the right for all Ohio adoptees to have access to their original birth records. This new law gives 400,000 adult adoptees adopted between 1964 and 1996 access to their original birth certificates. For a historical overview of this process, click here.

What are the implications regarding original birth certificates?

What does this new law mean for adoptees  who were placed in Ohio? Find answers at this adoptee access timeline. And how does this new law affect birth parents who placed in Ohio? Find answers via the birth parent decision tree. The 400,000 people adopted in Ohio between 1964 and 1996, as well as the people who love and support them, will find the video below of interest, as it explains what the new law means and how to request one’s own vital (and accurate) record of birth — something many non-adopted people have probably not given a whole lot of thought to.

Walking Through Ohio’s New Adoption Records Law

Also of interest to those who have followed the struggle for civil rights is this video by filmmaker and activist Jean Strauss. She tells the story  of Betsie Norris, Executive Director of Adoption Network Cleveland. Along her journey, Betsie discovered that her own father had inadvertently helped create the very laws she was trying to reverse.

An Adoptee ROARed in Ohio – the Betsie Norris Story by Jean Strauss

This week let’s celebrate the liberation  of sealed birth records in Ohio. And next week, let’s turn our attention to remaining legislatures that still need to right this wrong. The walls must fall. The walls will fall.

Please visit these other #OHadopteelaw posts (and add your own link if you’re writing about #OHadopteelaw).

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11 thoughts on “Triumph in Ohio”

  1. Once again you have provided a wealth of information that is so important for so very many people!

    I will be adding my voice as an adoptive mother of a child placed in a “closed” state. As I’ve admitted before, I was part of the “old system” – everything was exactly as you (and others) have said – all about secrecy. That’s the way things were in the 60s. Of course, that doesn’t make it right, but at the time there were no other options.

    From the vantage point of my “advanced” age (!), I understand the unfairness and discrimination involved in millions upon millions of adoptions. No wonder so many adult adoptees are angry! I’d be angry, too.

    Thanks again for all the work you are doing for the adoption community. You have changed my way of thinking about adoptions, adoption laws and basic civil rights and truly brought me into the 21st century.

    I will be contacting the adoption rights group at work in the “closed” state in question and will be writing to the State Legislature and the Governor, too. I can only hope that others will be joining in this effort.

    I sincerely hope it doesn’t take another 50 years to right the wrongs that have been done in the name of secrecy.

  2. So glad to see this! May this transition in Ohio be the push for other states to change their laws and provide adult adoptees with access to this information.

  3. I was discussing this online with some people, one of which was a guy who had given up parental rights so his son could be adopted by his ex-wife’s new husband. They all decided to pretend that the new husband was the boy’s father…until the new husband became the new ex-husband and on his way out the door (more or less) told the boy “Oh, BTW, I’m not your father.” The guy said he opposed opening the information because he ran into all kinds of resentment and issues with his now-adult son. And his psychiatrist said that the states should follow the wishes of the birth parents. I was all “Seriously? If you had been open about things from the start, the son would not have been able to be hurt by his adoptive father in that manner. You probably wouldn’t have had half the issues.” And then I linked your book into the discussion!

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