Legislation geared toward adoptees, biological parents clears House

Legislation geared toward adoptees, biological parents clears House

Last year, more than 700 adoptions were finalized in our state.

Recently, the House passed a bill that could have a substantial impact for the health and well being of all of our adopted children.

This bill was sponsored by two legislators who have adopted children, Rep. Chris Richey and Senator Dave Wallace. I am honored to be a co-sponsor.

HB1636 allows adoptees to request their original birth certificate when they reach the age of 21. Birth parents can redact their names from the certificate.

Adult adoptees can begin requesting this certificate a year after the legislation takes effect. The bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Another important element of this bill is the medical history this could provide for future adoptions.

HB1636 also allows birth parents to complete a contact preference form and provide information for a designated contact if they so chose. It also encourages birth parents to complete health and genetic history.

In the 1960s, adoption facilities thought it was better to withhold medical records because they wanted to respect the child. There was a prevailing thought that by not disclosing medical records, the child would have a better chance of being adopted.

Perceptions have changed. And now our state law reflects that.

Even with advances in genetic testing, there is crucial information that only our medical history can provide. Depending on the circumstance and illness, the life of an adoptee could be at stake.

I’m happy to see this measure supported by my colleagues.

We are now in the final weeks of the Regular Session. There are still many important pieces of legislation to consider.

As a reminder, you can watch all House Committee meetings held in the Capitol and all House floor proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org.

I’ll continue to update you throughout the session.

From State Representative Deborah Ferguson