- Associated Press - Monday, February 22, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Adoptees born between 1941 and 1994 may soon be able to access their birth records under a bill approved by the Indiana Legislature.

The Indiana House advanced the measure on a 72-24 vote Monday. The Senate passed it last month, and it now heads to Gov. Mike Pence’s desk.

The measure would reverse a 1994 law that sealed adoption information that didn’t have a disclosure consent form. That means records would be made available beginning in July 2018 unless the biological parents file another nondisclosure form with the Indiana State Department of Health. The bill would also give biological parents additional contact preference options for new adoption cases.

Pam Kroskie is the president of Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records, which has long supported opening adoption records. Kroskie argued adoptees need important birth information, such as their medical histories.

“Senate Bill 91 allows adoptees to finally find the closure they desperately seek, uncover vital answers about their medical history, and cure administrative heartaches that come from having an amended birth certificate,” Kroskie said in a statement.

Still, opponents say biological parents should be able to retain their right to privacy.

Rep. Thomas Washburne, a Republican from Inglefield, said his main concern was violating the privacy of birth parents by opening up the nearly 50 years of records.

“I just can’t believe there is not an expectation of privacy that extended back there,” he said before voting against the measure Monday. “I’m really in a quandary in how you handle this situation for those people.”

Last year, a similar proposal failed in the House after it faced questions from Pence’s administration about reversing the promise of anonymity given to birth mothers. No one from the governor’s office testified this year.

“Governor Pence wants Indiana to be the most pro-adoption state in the country,” Kara Brooks, Pence’s spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “He will give careful consideration to the legislation when it reaches his desk.”


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