in the beginning
and in the end
is not mine
But in between
to make or break,
to be or not to be
is mine alone.
Dear God, help me
to be among the strong.
Are adopted children different? I choose to think that they are not unless the adoptive parent thinks they are.
They are flesh and bone, mind and matter, garnered from many generations of ancestors. Is that so different from you and me?
They face the same possibillities of illness and accident, of success and failure; their lives are deeply influenced by those about them: their peers, their teachers, and most of all their parents. Is that so different from you and me?
They are exposed to the same environment as other children; exposed to the same temptations for good or evil. Yet no two people, regardless of the circumstances of birth, are endowed with the same abilities to meet identical situations. Is that so different from you and me?
It may appear that some adopted children are endowed with a greater curiosity about their natural heritage than other children but I happen to believe that this curiosity has been a result of home environment, intentional or unintentional.
The parent who refuses to share with the child the known information about his biological background and at the same time refuses to share the adoptive heritages as well; the parent who tries to mold the child into his/her own special patterns, refusing to allow the child to develop at his own pace and in accord with his own talents and abilities; the parent who always side-steps discussions on adoption is only arousing the deep-seated curiosity the child has acquired through these processes.
Adoption cannot guarantee beauty, brains or brawn. Adoption can only provide a couple with a child which they have said they wanted; adoption hopefully provides a homeless child with a home filled with TLC.
Is the adopted child different? No, only as you, the parents, the public, think of him as different; only as you help to make him different.
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"Records of recent adoptions handled by the court systems are generally restricted from public use. Records of some nineteenth-century adoptions are available in county courthouses. Ohio's court records may be found in county courthouses and in regional network centers in the state; many records are on microfilm at the Family History Library. Since the history of Ohio's court system is quite complex, researchers are advised to study David Levine's article in The Report and Carrington Marshall's A History of the Courts and Lawyers of Ohio. Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code: Annotated Ohio Administrative Code, available on compact disc at the Ohio Historical Society and other libraries, is a standard legal reference source and includes biographical sketches of many Ohio attorneys."
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The Ohio Adoption Registry
A Confidential and Voluntary Way for Adopted People and their Biological Families to Find One Another
What Is The Ohio Adoption Registry? The Ohio Adoption Registry was established by the Ohio Legislature to provide a confidential and voluntary way for adopted Ohioans and their biological families to find one another.
Birth records of people adopted after January 1, 1964 are not available to the public in Ohio. The Adoption Registry acts as a clearinghouse between adoptees and their biological families for those adopted prior to June 21, 1996.
How Does It Work? If you are the biological parent or sibling of someone who was adopted before June 21, 1996, request what's called an Authorization for Release form, complete the information, and file it with the Registry.
This form allows the Registry to release your information to the court so that it may be shared with the adoptee.
If You Are Adopted and 21 years old or older, you must file a petition with the probate court in your county to have information about your birth released to the Registry.
When the court submits this information to the Registry, a search is made to see if any authorization forms have been filed by a biological relative, agreeing to be contacted.
If a completed release from has been filed with the Registry, a copy is forwarded to the probate court or agency appointed by the court.
If no release form is found, the probate court can order the file "pending" until a release is filed. For information regarding filing a petition you may contact any Ohio Probate Court.
Where Can I Get A Release Form? Authorization for Release Forms used by the Ohio Adoption Registry are available at various locations throughout the state including Vital Statistics Registrar offices (often found in local health departments) and probate courts, or by contacting Vital Statistics at the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus.
Does It Cost Anything? There is no charge for filing a release form with Vital Statistics. Probate courts do charge a fee for adoptees to file a petition with the court, usually about $50.00. Check with the court for the exact amount of that fee.
What If I Change My Mind? Any information filed with the Registry may be updated, changed or withdrawn at any time by the person who originally filed the information. Simply contact Vital Statistics at the following address:
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, Ohio 43215-0098
Why Does Ohio Have An Adoption Registry? The Ohio Adoption Registry was created by the Legislature to protect the privacy of adopted people and their biological families by creating a clearinghouse for them to contact one another.
The Registry operates strictly on a mutual consent basis. Not every adopted person wants to find their biological family members, and not every biological family member of someone who was adopted wants to be found.
For more information, contact you local Vital Statistics Registrar or:
Ohio Department of Health
P.O. Box 15098
Columbus, Ohio 43215-0098
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Adoption Registration can be found under Ohio Revised Code 3705.18. Original birth certificates of persons whose births occurred in Ohio and adoptions before 1 Jan 1964, and documents about the original birth certificates that are sealed and in possession of Vital Health shall be open to inspection and copy by the adopting parents, the adopted person, or any lineal descendant upon request. The request must be in writing and the signatures notarized with two copies of identification. A complete description of Chapter 3705.18 can be found in OGS Report, 1986 page 80 or RC History 140 vH84, eff 3-19-85.
As of 1992, genealogists may not perform any adoption or missing person searches without a Private Investigators License.
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Baldwin's Ohio Revised Code - Annotated
3107.17 Confidentiality; records; access to histories of biological parents; rights of parties concerning proposed correction or expansion; procedures
(A)All hearings held under sections 3107.01 to 3107.19 of the Revised Code shall be held in closed court without the admittance of any person other than essential officers of the court, the parties, the witnesses of the parties, counsel, persons who have not previously consented to an adoption but who are required to consent, and representatives of the agencies present to perform their official duties.
(B) All papers, books, and records pertaining to a placement under section 5103.16 of the Revised Code or an adoption, whether part of the permanent record of the court or of a file in the department of human services or in an agency, are, except as provided in division (D) of this section, subject to inspection only upon consent of the court.
(C) The petition, the interlocutory order, the final decree of' adoption, and other
adoption proceedings shall be recorded in a book kept for such purposes and shall be
separately indexed. The book shall be a part of the records of the probate court,
and all consents, affidavits, and other papers shall be properly filed.
(D) All forms that pertain to the social or medical histories of the biological parents
of an adopted person and that were completed pursuant to division (D) of section
3107.12 or section 3107-121 of the Revised Code shall be filed only in the permanent
record kept by the court. During the minority of the adopted person, only the adoptive
parents of the person may inspect the forms. When an adopted person reaches majority,
only he may inspect the forms. Under the circumstances described in this division, an
adopted person or his adoptive parents are entitled to inspect the forms upon requesting
the clerk of the court to produce them.
(E)(1) The department of human services shall prescribe a form that permits any person
who is authorized by division (D) of this section to inspect forms that pertain to the
social or medical histories of the biological parents and that were completed pursuant to
division (D) of section 3107.12 or section 3107.121 of the Revised Code to request that
he be notified if any correction or expansion of either such history, made pursuant to
division (D)(4) of section 3107.12 of the Revised Code, is made a part of the permanent
record kept by the court. The form shall be designed to facilitate the provision of the
information and statements described in division (E)(3) of this section. The department
shall provide copies of the form to each probate court. A probate court shall provide a
copy of the request form to each adoptive parent when a final decree of adoption is entered and shall explain to each adoptive parent at that time that if he completes and files the form, he will be notified of any correction or expansion of either the social or medical
history of the biological parents of the adopted person made during the minority of the adopted person request is so author that is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, and that, during the adopted person's minority, he may inspect the forms that pertain to those histories. Upon request, the court also shall provide a copy of the request form to any adoptive parent during the minority of the adopted person and to an adopted person who has reached the age of majority.
(E)(2) Any person who is authorized to inspect forms pursuant to division (D) of this section who wishes to be notified of corrections or expansions pursuant to division (D)(4) of section 3107.12 of the Revised Code that are made a part of the permanent record kept by the court shall file with the court, on a copy of the form prescribed by the department of human services pursuant to division (E)(1) of this section, a request for such notification that contains the information and statements required by division (E)(3) of this section. A request may be filed at any time if the person who files the request is authorized at that time to inspect forms that pertain to the social or medical histories.
(E)(3) A request for notification as described in division (E)(2) of this section shall contain all of the following information:
(E)(4) Upon the filing of a request for notification in accordance with division (E)(2) of this section, the clerk of the court in which it is filed immediately shall insert the request in the permanent record of the case. A person who has filed the request and who wishes to update it with respect to a new mailing address may inform the court in writing of the new address. Upon its receipt, the court promptly shall insert the new address into the permanent record by attaching it to the request. Thereafter, any notification described in this division shall be sent to the new address.
- (a) The adopted person's name and mailing address at that time;
- (b) The name of each adoptive parent, and if the adoptive person is a minor at the time of the filing of the request, the mailing address of each adoptive parent at that time;
- (c) The adopted person's date of birth;
- (d) The date of entry of the final decree of adoption;
- (e) A statement requesting the court to notify the person who files the request, at the address provided in the request, if any correction or expansion of either the social or medical history of the biological parents is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court;
- (f)A statement that the person who files the request is authorized, at the time of the filing, to inspect the forms that pertain to the social and medical histories of the biological parents;
- (g) The signature of the person who files the request.
(E)(5) Whenever a social or medical history of a biological parent is corrected or expanded and the correction or expansion is made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, the court shall ascertain whether a request for notification has been filed in accordance with division (E)(2) of this section. If such a request has been filed, the court shall determine whether, at that time, the person who filed the request is authorized, under division (D) of this section, to inspect the forms that pertain to the social or medical history of the biological parents. If the court determines that the person who filed the request is so authorized, it immediately shall notify the person that the social or medical history has been corrected or expanded, that it has been made a part of the permanent record kept by the court, and that the forms that pertain to the records may be inspected in accordance with division (D) of this section.
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This is a term paper done by my daughter, Maggie
This paper will discuss Adoption, the Open Records law and the growing demand for open adoption records in all states. Since 1930, states have sealed adoption records to protect birth parents and adoptees from the stigma of illegitimate birth and to protect adoptive parents from unwanted interference. Things have changed dramatically with more and more organizations working to open all adoption records. In 1979, there was a bill proposed to do just that, but the Reagan administration tabled the proposal. Currently, adoption records are open in only two states, Kansas and Alaska.
The question is whether or not adoption records should remain closed or be opened. This decision needs to take into account the concerns of all involved adoptive parties, families, agencies, legislatures, advocacy groups, and constituents. What happens if all adoption records are open? What are the risks and the gains? Should there be a national policy? Other possible alternatives to consider are registries containing information willfully placed by involved parties, and middle party interaction as determined by the beliefs of individual agencies. The options to weigh are myriad. First is the adoptees emotional and medical need to know their original parentage. Second is the right to privacy. Third is the obligation regarding commitments previously made during the adoption process. Lastly is the obligation to honor the sensitivities of all parties involved. Currently, approximately one million adoptees and birth parents are using private eyes, support groups and classified ads to look for each other, often at extreme individual expense.
The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) drafted the Uniform Adoption Act of 1994. The NCCUSL produces then introduces drafts of uniform laws in state legislatures. The goal of national standardization of practice occurs when these drafts pass, in whole or in part, at the state level. Other uniform adoption laws, like the Uniform Adoption Act of 1969, were only successful in a handful of states, which led to NCCUSL's consideration of a new draft five years ago.
The Uniform Adoption Act has many facets. It seals adoption records for 99 years. It makes it a criminal offense to search adoption records. It shortens the revocable consent periods to 8 days from the birth of the child. It does not define non-identifying information. Lastly it creates a mutual consent registry.
This mutual consent registry virtually assures that no exchange of information, even between willing parties, will be made. The act allows a birth parent to relinquish a child without the consent of a birthfather if she states that his whereabouts are unknown or that she does not know the birthfather's identity. The sections on pre-placement evaluations of considered adoptive parents clearly intend to make it easier for couples to adopt rather than ensures the best interests of the child. The entire UAA, as evidenced by its supporters and detractors, clearly means to shorten the adoption process. The UAA accomplishes this by increasing the number of babies available through shorter consent periods. The UAA lacks adequate birth father notification controls and removes barriers to transracial adoption. It also terminates former contact agreements between original families and their children. It becomes easier and more attractive to adopt with easier home studies that are effective for 18 months rather than the 30 days that is now standard practice. The UAA seals the records thus causing difficulty for adoptees to search. Lastly, the UAA alters the system so that it works in favor of the prospective adoptive parent, against the adoptee, against the birth father, and against the birth family. The State Legislatures decide whether or not to pass, in whole or in part, the Uniform Adoption Act. To date, all the states rejected the UAA. Nonetheless, it would be preferable to see the progressive adoption reform movement launch their own model adoption act instead of playing this game permanently on the defensive.
The laws of each state govern whether the birth and adoption records are available to anyone, including the adoptee after the adoption takes place. Alteration of these laws is gaining support, but to effect a change needs the support of state legislatures. This requires the concerted action of a broad based constituency.
In the "Ohio Revised Code 3107.17," it lists the points covered as "Confidentiality; records; access to histories of biological parents; rights of parties concerning proposed correction or expansion; procedures." The Ohio Legislature formed "The Ohio Adoption Registry." This agency operates on a consent basis. Ohio seals births prior to January 1, 1964, and documents pertinent to the original birth certificate. These sealed documents are in the possession of Vital Health. They are open to inspection and copy by the adopting parents, the adopted person, or any lineal descendant upon request. The request must be in writing and the signature notarized, along with two copies of identification.
The prospect of adopting a child is a blessing for couples who are unable, or choose not to have their own. For the birth mother, giving away a baby can be a wrenching and painful experience. For the adopted child there is the sense of mystery: "Who are my biological parents?" "What kinds of health risks run in my biological family?" These profound questions sometimes become a driving force behind a search that is usually full of not only pain but also hope.
Open records advocates say sealed records are demeaning to adopted people. Activist Betty Jean Lifton comments, "Everybody else has their family around them like a hall of mirrors that they can look at, and the adoptee is in a void." Critics argue that opening records violates the right to privacy of the birth parents. As Bill Pierce says, "tens of thousands of people... made important life decisions based on the fact that there was an expectation of privacy and confidentiality." Women who give up their children often do so under painfully emotional circumstances that they do not want to revisit.
Critics also argue that opening records could reduce the number of domestic adoptions. Bill Pierce, President of the National Council for Adoption, believes open records would severely harm the adoption process. He also cites a General Accounting Office study finding that 10 percent of those who adopt internationally do so to avoid dealing with the birth parents. Opponents counter that Alaska and Kansas, the two states with open adoption records have higher rates of adoption than the nation as a whole.
In 1996, the battle hit the courts as a birth mother sued the state of Tennessee to try to keep birth records sealed. Religious groups, such as the one led by Pat Robertson, have become involved in the Tennessee case, arguing that opening records would lead to more abortions. Robertson believes that more women will terminate their pregnancies to avoid coming into contact with the adopted child later in life. Other proponents against open records state that it is inconsiderate to the birth parents. This outcome of this case will no doubt set a precedent that the other states will follow.
Anne Babb, President of the American Adoption Congress, argues that open records would help millions of adoptees searching for birth mothers who would not mind being found.
In most states in America, as well as in many countries, the original identity of an adoptee remains sealed, in court and agency files, without regard to age, medical need, or natural curiosity. It is my belief that the sealing of these records, and the secrecy that is an inherent part of the adoption system in America and elsewhere, perpetuates an unhealthy climate for every adoptee. That makes the development of self-esteem and a strong self-identity nearly impossible, regardless of the quality of one's adoptive upbringing. There is a movement, however, underway, to change the status of adoption records in this country.
Cady, Frances D., Adoption: Once Upon A Time, The Ohio Children's Society, Columbus, Ohio, 1971.
Sperry, Kip, Genealogical Research in Ohio, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1997.
Baldwin's Annotated Ohio Revised Code, Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company, West Publishing Company, 1997.
Fenley, Ann, The Ohio Open Records Law and Genealogy, The Ohio Connection, Dayton, Ohio 1989.
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) statement, http://psy.ucsd.edu/~jhartung/uaa/cwla.html. (Link no longer active.)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW), http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/nasw.html (Link no longer active.).
Adoptive Families of America (AFA), http://www.adoptivefam.org/ (Link no longer active.).
Catholic Charities USA, http://ccsj.org/cc-other.html (Link no longer active.).
American Adoption Congress (AAC), http://pages.prodigy.com/adoptreform/aacorg.htm. (Link no longer active.)
American Adoption Congress (AAC) Statement, http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/aac.html (Link no longer active.).
National Adoption Center (NAC) Website, http://www.inetcom.net/adopt/nac/nac.html. (Link no longer active.)
National Adoption Center (NAC) Statement, http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/nac.html (Link no longer active.).
Adoption Exchange Association (AEA) Statement, http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/aea.html (Link no longer active.).
Children Awaiting Parents (CAP) Website, http://www.inetcom.net/adopt/cap/cap.html. (Link no longer active.)
New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children (NYSCCC) Website, http://www.nysccc.org/.
Holt International Children's Services' (ICS) Statement, http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/holt.html (Link no longer active.).
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General Adoption Related Links
Debra Foster, am looking for a missing relative that lived in Ohio at least until the mid 1930's and also trying to help a family find two adopted siblings that were born in Ohio. I am working along with Todd Matthews of Livingston, Tenn., whose story of the Tent Girl Murder Mystery will air on CBS 48 hours next Thursday (April 23, 1998). Together we hope to help others find answers to their missing relatives and loved ones. I hope you will check out our websites at the following:
If we can be of assistance to others, we hope to do so. So many people pay for the help of researchers in desperation to find their
missing. Todd and I, along with other volunteers, hope to help those in
search of their missing, find the answers. Please feel free to call upon us!"
Debra Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adopting.com Heavily geared towards adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents
AdoptioNetwork Adoption information resource, well-presented and comprehensive
Bastard Nation Visit first, ask questions later
Mental Health Net's list of adoption resources allows you to auto-suscribe to adoption-related mailing lists, gives ratings of sites as well as descriptions
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse NAIC maintains an adoption literature database, a database of adoption experts, listings of adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers, and other adoption-related services, and excerpts of State and Federal laws on adoption
The Quest Personal homepage of a son reunited with his father in adulthood.
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