Missouri House bill could allow adoptees to obtain real birth certificates
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Missouri House bill could allow adoptees to obtain real birth certificates

Date: January 25, 2012
By: Danielle Carter
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB1137

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri-born residents who were adopted could gain access to their real birth certificates and biological parents' medical history under a measure presented to the House Judiciary Committee.

Currently, adoptees only have access to some of the information, the bill's sponsor Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, said. Many adoptees also may not have records of their biological parent's medical history since many of these documents are closed.

The House Judiciary Committee heard a bill Wednesday that would allow adoptees over 18 to gain access to birth certificates and medical records containing their biological parents' information - if the biological parents give consent. 

The legislation raised some questions from committee members. One portion of the bill stated that if a request to obtain a birth certificate is denied or the birth parents cannot be found, the same request cannot be made again for three years. Rep. Susan Carlson, D-St. Louis City, questioned why this time was chosen, rather than a different amount. 

Protection of privacy for birth parents was also a concern. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, asked for clarification of how requests for information would be handled. In response, Lauer stated that if a birth parent requested they not be contacted, they would not be contacted, under the bill.

While Lauer heard some opposition from birth parents concerning privacy, no one officially testified against the bill.

"Mostly the conversation, is, should we go farther with the bill," Lauer said. "I know there are individuals who are looking for open records, which takes it much farther than where the bill is. And I think that is really the area of discussion that will probably be going on."

Despite the questions, Lauer said she was happy with the hearing's results.

"I was very pleased that the committee was so open to hearing about this piece of legislation," Lauer said. " I think it was very important to hear from the technical side and the legal side as well as from those individuals who are adoptees. They speak from the heart."

One woman, Carolyn Pooler, was adopted and gave an emotional testimony in support of the bill. Pooler has cancer and said she finds it difficult to treat her condition without knowing her biological family's medical history. With tears in her eyes, she explained what this proposal would mean to her.

"Let me tell you, that's a terrible decision for a woman to have to make, sitting here with an uncomfortable cancer and I can't get genetic information. That's horrid," Pooler said.

In addition to Pooler, Konni Hall, a breast cancer survivor, said she would like to be able to warn any potential siblings of the possibility of breast cancer. 

"I may have sisters out there who are younger than me who probably need to know that they had a sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 30s, who did not have a lump, who who did not have any sort of symptoms," Hall said.

The committee took no action on the bill Wednesday. 


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