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Adoption records access vetoed

Published (5/30/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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A pregnant unwed mother in the 1950s couldn’t have foreseen that in 2009 her child given up for adoption would possibly contact her because of having direct access to their original birth certificate. With no affidavits to protect the mother’s identity at that time, many just thought their secret would remain silent.

A bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Tingelstad (R-Andover) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), would have allowed adults age 19 and older to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate, if there was no affidavit of disclosure on file. But it was vetoed by the governor.

The change would have honored affidavits dating to 1981. The Health Department now has about 1,200 affidavits of nondisclosure, Tingelstad said.

“Before 1977, the law supported a birth parent’s expectation their identity and birth records would be forever sealed and confidential. Breaching that promise of confidentiality previously given to these birth parents is not appropriate,” Gov. Tim Pawlenty wrote in his veto message.

He also noted that according to Lutheran Social Services, on average, 23 percent of the birth mothers contacted declined to release identifying information.

Current law allows adoption agencies to work with adopted persons to find birth parents and act as an intermediary.


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