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Mar 10, 2022

People Adopted in Louisiana Could Get Access to Their Birth Certificates

A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed legislation that would allow adopted people to obtain copies of their original birth certificates once they reach age 24. It would follow a nationwide trend to reform decades of secrecy surrounding adoption records. 

House Bill 450, filed by Rep. Charles Owen, a Republican from the Fort Polk-area town of Rosepine, proposes that an adopted person who is at least 24 would no longer have to petition a court to unseal their original birth certificate. They could instead obtain an uncertified copy upon request from the state registrar of vital records. 

In a closed adoption under Louisiana law, most, if not all records, including the original birth certificate that often contains the identities of the biological parents, are sealed and not accessible to the adopted person. The state issues the adopted child an altered birth certificate with the legal fiction that the child was born to their adoptive parents. 

Closed adoption records can only be unsealed with a court order. Such a process typically requires hiring an attorney and providing a compelling reason to convince a judge to make the records available, Owen said in an interview. 

Owen pointed out access to consumer DNA testing is inexpensive and widespread through websites such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe.com. It allows nearly anyone to trace their genealogy and track down their biological family members for about $100, he said. 

The state doesn’t really have a good reason for requiring an adopted person’s birth certificate to remain confidential forever, Owen said.

“They arbitrarily think they need to keep them sealed,” Owen said. “No one has offered any good reason to me yet, though I’m told that they will come.” 

You can read more in an article by Wesley Muller published in the Louisiana Illuminator at: https://lailluminator.com/2022/03/09/people-adopted-in-louisiana-could-get-access-to-their-birth-certificates/.