In May 2016, the Missouri legislature passed a bill that has remained under the radar but which will affect many Missouri adults of all generations when it goes into effect January 1, 2018. House Bill 1599, the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, grants adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates, which contain the name of their birth mother, and often birth father. Once a child is adopted, the state updates the adoptee’s birth certificate to contain the names of their adoptive parents. Previously, access to the original birth certificate remained inaccessible without a court order.
For many adoptees this law allows them the opportunity to learn more about themselves and their origins. Many adoptees don’t consider a birth certificate just a piece of paper. It contains important ties to their identity and pieces of a puzzle about other relatives, history, and where they came from. But, for many birth parents, the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act creates an extra step for them to remain anonymous. If a birth parent is unaware about the change in the law, they may unwillingly and unknowingly allow themselves to be identified by a child they gave up for adoption years ago if they do not take additional action.
So, what does this law do?
- Allows an adult adoptee the right to apply for a copy of his or her original birth certificate
- Allows a birth parent who wishes to remain anonymous to submit a written request to have his or her name redacted from the original birth certificate
- Allows an original birth certificate to be withheld from the adult adoptee if both birth parents file a written request
What doesn’t this law do?
- Doesn’t allow an adult adoptee to receive their original birth certificate if the birth parent is deceased
- Doesn’t allow a deceased adult adoptee’s children or grandchildren rights to the original birth certificate without a court order