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Update 7: Feb. 6, 2013

ROAR! 2013 – Restore Ohio Adoptee Rights in 2013

Click here to see information about birthparent testimony for House Bill 61. There will be a similar effort to organize adoptee and adoptive parent testimony that will be sent once it is complete. As below, Kate Livingston is coordinating birthparent testimony. Betsie Norris is coordinating adoptee and adoptive parent testimony (volunteer opportunity - please let me know if you’d like to help with the coordination of this). The hearing on March 6th will be largely “expert witnesses” with some coming in from out of state and most adoptee/birthparent/adoptive parent testimony will be the hearing after that. That hearing date is not yet scheduled, but will be at 3 pm on a Wednesday — most likely 1-2 weeks after the March 6th hearing.

The Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee has scheduled their first hearing — Sponsor Testimony — for companion bill Senate Bill 23. That hearing is at 2:30 pm on Wednesday March 6th, which overlaps with the proponent hearing in the House. We will have people at both hearings, but the proponent hearing in the House will be where most of the “action” is.

We will send out the room numbers for both hearings when they are confirmed.

Calling All Ohio Birthparents!
Did you know that individuals adopted in Ohio between 1964 and 1996 are restricted from directly accessing their original birth certificate at Vital Statistics? This original, pre-adoption birth record plays an important role in helping adult adoptees discover answers to questions about their genetic heritage, family medical information, and the story of their adoption. New legislation proposed in Ohio (House Bill 61 and Senate Bill 23) seeks to restore the right of Ohio adoptees to have this basic, fundamental information about their own lives. Read more about this legislation at www.adoptionequityohio.org

The legislators considering these bills seem to understand why adult adoptees want access to their birth certificates, but they still have big concerns about what birthparents will think about this bill. They have MANY false assumptions about what birthparents have experienced in Ohio. In many ways, the success of HB 61 and SB 23 will depend on whether or not we can get birthparents out to the Statehouse in droves to set the record straight. Your voice as a birthparent is needed to help this law pass!

We need birthparents to prepare a 1-page typed testimony and read the testimony aloud at the hearings for HB 61 and SB 23. The attached Birthparent Testimony Guide will show you how to format your testimony and what issues are most important to write about at this point in the legislative process.

The next hearing for House Bill 61 in the House Judiciary Committee Meeting is now scheduled for March 6th at 3pm at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, OH. We don’t know yet whether birthparents will be asked to offer testimony at this particular hearing, but ask that you start preparing your testimony immediately for use at this or future hearings. In the event that you are unable to attend a hearing in person, the testimony guide can also be used to format emails to legislators or letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

Kate Livingston of Ohio Birthparent Group is the designated liaison for birthparents in this effort. She can consult with each birthparent on how to write their testimony and what to expect at the hearings. If you would like to participate, please notify Kate Livingston ASAP at katelivingston@gmail.com or 614.668.7390.

IMPORTANT! Even if we are not asked to speak at the March 6th hearing, the physical presence of birthparents in the room is very important. Please join us! Members of Ohio Birthparent Group will be on hand to support birthparents in attendance.

About the legislation:
Ohio Senate Bill 23, sponsored by Senators Beagle and Burke, and House Bill 61, sponsored by Representatives Pelanda and Antonio, were introduced February 12, 2013. Senate Bill 23 was assigned to the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services Committee and House Bill 61 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

The bills will allow:
• Ohio adoptees adopted 1964 to 1996* access to their Original Birth Certificate upon request at age 18, starting one year from bill passage date.
• Ohio birthparents to file a Contact Preference Form specifying if and how they would like contact.
• Ohio birthparents to complete and put on file an updated medical history for the adoptee.
(*Adult adoptees from before 1964 in Ohio already have this right, as do the vast majority of adoptees after 1996.)

To find your legislator, visit: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/
For more information, visit: www.adoptionequityohio.org/