They say the companion bills would eliminate legal hoops adoptees have to jump through to get their original birth certificates as adults.
The birth certificates are sealed by the state and difficult to access. Adoptees are instead provided with a similar document containing their adoptive parent's information.
"Currently for an adopted person to get a copy of their original birth certificate they must petition the court in which their adoption took place. Getting access to an original birth certificate is extremely difficult, and the rules guiding access to them are vague and open to broad interpretation by the presiding judge in each court. We’re a nation and a state built on the truth that all men are created equal by our Creator. Yet, adopted Texans are treated differently than non-adopted Texans. Family medical history and knowing one’s own race or ethnicity are examples of basic information that is withheld from adopted Texans." explained Rep. Cody Harris of Tyler.
Harris filed HB 1386, it passed 144-1 in the House. Still, SB 1877 remained stuck in the Senate Jurisprudence committee Friday.
Dawn Scott, participated in the demonstration Friday because she felt it was important to advocate for "transparency and equality" on behalf of her 14-year-old adopted daughter, Ava Marie Margot Scott. "To me as an adoptive parent, my job is to support my daughter in her truth, not recreate it," she said.
Scott’s daughter had an open adoption but still will struggle to access her birth certificate.
Noel Johnson, a board member of "STAR," Support Texas Adoptee Rights, was adopted in the 1970s and struggled to access his own birth certificate. "I think everybody has that basic desire to know who you are and where you came from. But more importantly than that, your original birth certificate is your original medical record and it’s so important to be able to know your medical history and your genealogy," he explained.
In 2014 Johnson set out to find his biological family. In 2020 he re-connected with six half-siblings and his biological father. His birth mother had already passed.
"My mother had been searching for me for years," he said.
Johnson admits his story is unusual. While he is happy to be reunited with his family, he says the legislation is not about reunification. "It’s more about who I am and as an adult, whether my story is good, bad, or ugly, I have the right to that information and I have the right to my original medical record," he said.