CT House passes bill allowing all adoptees access to original birth certificates; moves to state Senate

CT House passes bill allowing all adoptees access to original birth certificates
The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would allow all adoptees in the state access to their original birth certificates. The vote was 115-28.
A total of 24 Republicans joined all but two Democrats in voting to approve the bill. Reps. Cathy Abercrombie and Rep. Patricia Dillon, both Democrats, voted against the measure.
Those birth certificates have the names of biological parents. Many adopted adults have been fighting for years for access but have been repeatedly shut down.
Current Connecticut law seals birth certificates for anyone adopted between 1944 and 1983. Only a judge can release it and only if the birth parent agrees.
Initially, anyone adopted after 1944 was barred from their original birth certificate. The intent was to protect the birth mothers’ privacy. But several years ago, lawmakers relaxed the law and opened up records after 1983 – the year adoption forms changed, no longer guaranteeing anonymity.
That left adoptees like Kathy Flaherty, who was adopted in 1968, in legal limbo – stuck between two different state laws.
Flaherty says that knowing her family history is a matter of life and death. She says she can’t properly answer questions at the doctor’s office because she simply does not know the answers.
“I have gotten to the point where I scrawl in really big letters across the whole page 'I don't know because I'm adopted. Please stop asking this question,'" she says.
She says her brother has been dead for 18 years after he suffered a heart attack.
“We didn't know that he had a congenital heart defect because we don't get access to our medical history,” she said.
The state House debated whether to repeal the ban during the afternoon and early evening before the vote.
Critics sympathize with Flaherty’s plight, but they say birth parents were promised privacy – and the bill is a broken promise.
"From '75 to '83, women were told they could give the baby up for adoption and not face ridicule for having been pregnant for whatever reason,” said State Rep. Tom O'Dea (R-New Canaan).
State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-Prospect) said it penalizes women who made the difficult choice to give up their baby for adoption.
"If this law passes and they're found, they're going to have to re-live all of this all over again,” she said.
The measure now moves to the state Senate.