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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 117 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 117

(By Delegates Hall, Andes, Marcum, Walters, Reynolds, White, Stowers, R. Phillips, Rodighiero, Craig and Lawrence)

 

 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to conduct a study on the feasibility of providing an avenue of open access to adoption records for adoptees in West Virginia.

    Whereas, West Virginia’s current adoption laws provide a closed records system requiring adoptees to obtain a court order to have access to their records; and

    Whereas, The current West Virginia adoption registry is ineffective in helping those who are looking for guidance in locating their biological birth parents; and

    Whereas, Adoptees desire equal access to their vital statistics records in the same manner as non-adoptees; and

    Whereas, Prior decades of secrecy and closed adoptions created a stigma and left adoptees believing there was something shameful and wrong with themselves and their biological background; and

    Whereas, In the 1970's, societal pressure served to urge adoption agencies and social workers to complete adoptions and leave records open for access by the birth parents and adoptive children. This pressure increased through the 1990's as adoption became viewed as less of a "shame" for the adoptees and birth parents. During this time, birth parents and adult adoptees began demanding a change in the laws in different states throughout the country; and

    Whereas, Adult adoptees should be able to confront the question of where they come from as well as the need for information regarding their birth parents and families in order to obtain needed medical history. After many years of denying adoptees access to viewing their records, several states are beginning to change their positions and amend their laws to include an open records system; and

    Whereas, Some state laws, as currently written, deny adult adoptees access to their records and serve to create a separate minority class of citizens by virtue of a legal act approved by a judge several decades ago; and

    Whereas, Possible alternatives to the current system for adoptees to access their records include, but are not limited to, the following:

    (1) Providing non-identifying information to adoptees and/or the adoptive parents under a certain age for health and medically specific reasons;

    (2) Providing identifying information and/or original birth certificate access to adoptees who are age eighteen or over; or     (3) Providing adoptive parents original birth certificates; and

    Whereas, Adoptive children who want detailed knowledge or who have a need for this knowledge will benefit from easy, open access to adoptive records. Being able to access and view the records allows them to get one step closer to finding out vital information so they can inform their doctors and obtain the most appropriate medical treatment when necessary; and

    Whereas, With an open system, many people could be saved from unknown chronic and genetic conditions and money could be saved if known genetic and hereditary conditions were diagnosed and treated by preventative means; and

    Whereas, It is the intent of the West Virginia Legislature to devise a more suitable approach and method for those adoptees who wish to obtain such essential records; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the feasibility of providing an avenue of open access to adoption records for adoptees in West Virginia; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance obtain input from groups involved with this issue in order to devise a more effective and suitable approach to providing an open adoptive records process in West Virginia; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2013, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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