- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — In a bittersweet moment, adults adopted as children lined up yesterday to take advantage of a new state law to get copies of their birth certificates. Among them: a state lawmaker.

First in line was Rep. Janet Allen, who had pushed hard for New Hampshire to change the law, though she had identified her birth parents several years ago through other means.

“I spent three years going through probate court arguing and fighting. I probably petitioned that judge eight times,” she said.

Miss Allen said getting a copy of her birth certificate was a matter of civil rights for adoptees. She got it in five minutes, and the victory brought tears and smiles.

“I should have brought gold bullion,” she said.

Jack Ferns, 53, of Loudon, had hoped his father’s name would be on the certificate, but it wasn’t.

“I was hoping it was, but I was a realist, too,” he said a few minutes after getting his certificate.

Mr. Ferns, who was adopted into the same family as Miss Allen, said he knew his birth mother’s name. She died two years after he was adopted. He said he also knows some of his relatives — his uncle came with him to the Division of Vital Records to offer support.

It was his father’s name he sought.

“I just want to know,” Mr. Ferns said.

The law took effect on New Year’s Day, giving Mr. Ferns and other adults adopted as children access to their original birth certificates if they were born in New Hampshire. Yesterday was the first day they could obtain the certificates after filling out a request form and paying a $12 research fee.

New Hampshire becomes the fifth state to allow adult adoptees unfettered access, joining Oregon, Alabama, Alaska and Kansas. Delaware and Tennessee also allow access, but with some restrictions.

Under another provision of the law, birth parents can indicate whether they wish to be contacted.

State Registrar William Bolton said a handful of parents have sent the contact forms to the bureau since the legislature passed the law. He said perhaps three dozen people had filed requests for the certificates in recent weeks in anticipation of the law taking effect.

Answering requests may take a few minutes to a few weeks, depending on whether the information is in Concord or in a sealed file in the town where the person was born, Mr. Bolton said.

In Miss Allen’s case, the judge refused to give her the copy of her birth certificate even though her parents were dead. He did tell Miss Allen her mother’s last name and where the lawmaker was born, allowing her to track down a natural brother through genealogy and public library records.

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