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New law makes birth certificates more accessible for adoptees

By Evan Berg

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    ROCHESTER, Minnesota (KIMT) — A new law has gone into effect across Minnesota on Monday, July 1, that will allow 18 year old adoptees to ask the Minnesota Department of Health for their birth certificates.

Tiffany Kacir, program manager for Olmsted County child and family services, says the new law is mostly streamlining the existing process for adoptees to read their birth certificates, with the notable addition of removing birth parent disclosure preferences.

“Prior to this law change, I think adoptees had to jump through quite a few hoops, and this new law change will allow for easier access to information,” Kacir said.

According to Kacir previously, an adoptee would have to fill out much more paperwork than the new form, and would have to meet a minimum age of 19.

The cases Kacir said the cases where the change would have the most impact would either be decades old or closed adoptions through private agreements.

“For those who maybe had closed adoptions or didn’t have that information this will allow them to access it when previously they weren’t able to, Kacir said.

Sarah Vetter, director of Child and Family Services at Catholic Charities of Southern MN, said the new law might be met with mixed reactions among Minnesota adoptees and birth parents.

“This new law change will help adoptees potentially connect to their birth parents and understand where they came from, which can be so important. It also shares information that birth parents were told would be kept confidential, which could create challenges for birth parents who did not want their identities known. There are still some women who never told their families that they placed a child for adoption years ago, and need to be able to share their story on their own terms,” Vetter said in a statement to KIMT.

It was a sentiment that was shared by Jennifer K. Patrick, director of adoption at New Life Adoptions, in her agency’s own statement on the issue.

“While the information that will be shared can be helpful for adoptees, the process by which this may happen will likely be difficult for some birth parents who were told their information would be kept confidential indefinitely under the previous law. As always, our primary concern is in providing the best possible care and support for birth parents, adoptees and adoptive families, and we are committed to helping those affected by the law navigate these changes.” The statement said.

While the non-disclosure option is gone for birth parents under the new law, parents can still leave a notice about their willingness to be contacted if they wish to do so.

Adoptees who meet the MN Department of Health’s age requirements can apply to see their birth certificates using a form on its website.

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