Original birth certificates were sealed to Colorado adoptees in 1942.
History: Colorado sealed original birth certificates to adoptees in 1949.
Colorado Court of Appeals 08CA1935 ruling that expanded access for some Colorado adoptees
SB 14-051 was signed by the governor on 5/22/14. Previous to SB 14-051, Colorado had a tiered system of access whereby certain relatives and descendants of a deceased adoptee or birth parent; Adult adoptees whose adoptions were finalized between 7/1/51 and 6/30/67, or on or after 9/1/99; and those eligible under the Indian Child Welfare Act could access their original birth certificate upon request.
SB 14-051 provides access to original birth certificates upon request to adult adoptees regardless of adoption finalization date, but also enacted what is described as a “Contact Preference Form”. However, in addition to stating a contact preference, the forms contain an option for the birthparent “to authorize or not authorize the release of the original birth certificate to eligible parties.” (In other words, a disclosure veto).
The disclosure veto option on the CPF under SB 14-051 expires on January 1, 2016. Thereafter, CPFs will not be distributed that contain a disclosure veto option. However, this bill provides that any vetoes filed prior to January 1, 2016 remain in full force and effect.
Proponents have argued that any disclosure vetoes filed prior to January 1, 2016 will also expire or no longer be honored after January 1, 2016, however there is no clear indication that this is so. ON the face of it, it wouldn’t make sense for the state to collect disclosure vetoes up to January 1, 2016 only to say that none of them will be honored after that date. Moreover, one particular provision in the bill provides guidance that the intent is to honor all vetoes filed by January 1, 2016: “When one birth parent has authorized the release of the birth certificate and the other birth parent has filed a contact preference form prior to January 1, 2016, not authorizing release, the state registrar shall issue the original birth certificate to the eligible party with the name of the nonconsenting parent redacted.”
In a twist, however, SB 14-051 provided access to “all adoption records as defined in Section 19-1-103 (6.5) for inspection and copying by an adult adoptee, an adoptive parent of a minor adoptee, a custodial grandparent of a minor adoptee” and other individuals with the written notarized consent of the adult adoptee.
Discrepancies in the way this provision was being administered, including redactions not authorized by law, was the impetus for:HB 15-1106 – which was signed by the governor on 3/30/15. Described by proponents as a “clean up measure” to “clarify access,” this bill defines what “adoption records” are to be released and clarifies that they are to be released “without redaction.”
- The adoptee’s original birth certificate and amended birth certificate
- The final decree of adoption;
- Non-identifying information, as defined in section 19-1-103 (80);
- The final order of relinquishment; and
- The order of termination of parental rights.
What remains to be seen is how these bills, now laws, are going to be interpreted and administered. On the face of it, HB 15-1106 seems to conflict with the clear directive of SB 14-051 which requires that effective 1/1/16, when an adult adoptee requests an OBC, the state registrar do a search to see if a CPF with a veto was filed prior to 1/1/16 and if so, does not release the OBC. HB 15-1106 however, does not provide for the withholding or redaction of an original birth certificate.
- Colorado Department of Public Health which administers the law.
- Bastard Nation Action Alert: No on HB 1188, March 12, 1999
- Shea Grim’s Response to Non-Adoptees Misrepresenting Adoptee Rights Bill, February 6, 1999
- Text: HB 1188, 1999
Updated August 1, 2015
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