Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Connecticut - Governor Rell's Veto on Open Records Legislation

To answer Senator Bill Finch's question, "Who owns my birth certificate?", the answer is the government. Not the parent (or birthparent) and not the child. It is a record kept by the government to record parentage.

Brubenstein's suggestions to "giving notice to last abode of the parent and/or publicating the notice somewhere for a period of time and if there is no response then the adopted person gets the birth certificate", are erroneous in many ways.

Let's break this down. Part one, 'giving notice' violates the very protection Gov. Rell sought to keep in tact - privacy. Giving notice to the 'last know address' violates the confidentiality promised the birthparent. For birthparents who placed as teens and young adults, their last known address is often their childhood home. The chance the birthparent's parent opens the notice is significantly high and would violate the confidentiality promised the birthparent. Many birthparents (especially birthfathers and some college students) never share news of the pregnancy and adoption placement with their parents. 'Public notification' is an even greater violation of privacy unless all identifying information published is that of the child's and none of the birthparent's.

Theoretically, for a 15-year-old birthparent, by 17 they are at an in-state (but out-of-hometown) college, by 24 they are have taken an out-of-state job (where a changed law in their state of placement affects them, but they are not notified of the change), and by 30 they have moved with their spouse overseas chasing a well-deserved and well-paid promotion. Not to mention mid-life and later in life travel, retirement, etc.

Part two, 'no response = release of birth certifciate to adopted person' is like saying 'guilty until proven innocent' for the birthparent. You should assume the birthparent requests privacy, before ascertaining they do not. The only fair and just 'default' is privacy. A birthparent is like any other young individual, moving residences frequently.