A few states are opening up their adoption records that had been sealed for decades. As a result, families are being reunited that may never have found each other if these records had remained closed.
One of the states that recently opened up their adoption records is Ohio.
On March 20, 2015 The Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics was able to officially release adoption records to 400,000 people.
Adoptees from Ohio are now able to obtain some of their adoption records for the years 1964 to 1996.
The children or grandchildren of an adoptee are allowed to request the adoption records also.
Ohio adoption records before 1964 or after 1996 have been open for a long time.
The open adoption records usually contain an original birth certificate along with other family-related documents, including birth parent release forms and information on biological siblings.
Ohio’s opening up of these adoption records has already reunited numerous people with their biological families.
Adoptee Tamara Green is one such case.
After receiving her birth certificate from the state of Ohio, her son was able to locate Tamara’s birth mother, Judy Baker Headley, on Facebook.
Tamara contacted Judy through Facebook and gave her birth date in the message.
Judy confirmed that she had given up a baby girl for adoption on Tamara’s birth date.
Tamara responded that she believed that she was the girl that Judy had given up for adoption.
Through her contact with her birth mother Judy, Tamara found out that she also has two biological brothers and two biological sisters as well. Most of Tamara’s birth family now lives in Georgia.
Tamara said she is very grateful for the successful outcome she had in finding her birth family.
Tamara believes the other 39 states should follow Ohio’s example and remove the secrecy around their closed adoption records.
Adoptee Teresa Stinson is 47 years old now and says she has spent her whole life wondering who her birth mother is.
Her mother, Chris Shirley, is now 66 years old and says she has often wondered what happened to the daughter she gave up for adoption.
After Ohio opened up their adoption records, Teresa requested her original birth certificate.
The day after getting her birth certificate and learning who her birth mother was, she was able to contact Chris by phone.
Shortly after their first phone call, Teresa travelled from her home in Ohio to Chris’s home in Orlando, FL where they were finally able to have the mother-daughter reunion that both had dreamed of for so long.
Claudia Vercellotti was the first adoptee in line to request her birth certificate at Ohio’s Office of Vital Statistics on March 20, 2015.
She received her adoption records in the mail a few weeks later.
Her birth mother was listed in the records but not her father.
Through some internet searches, Claudia was able to find and contact her birth mother.
They have had a phone conversation and have exchanged some emails, but they are taking it slow as far as meeting one another.
Claudia said she has waited 45 years to tell her birth mother thank you.
Greg Burnham is another Ohio adoptee with a different perspective on his situation.
Greg was adopted in Toledo, Ohio 44 years ago, but now lives in Trinity, FL.
He received his birth certificate, which had his mother’s name, but no father was listed on it.
From his birth certificate, he found out his original birth name along with the fact that he is from an Irish family.
Greg said he has found out that his birth mother still lives in the Toledo area, but he is not sure that he wants to contact her.
Greg says that after 44 years, he isn’t sure that he really wants to be a part of another family even if that family is his biological one.
Not all adoptees have had a positive outcome after seeing their adoption records.
A number of adoptees have discovered that one or both of their birth parents are deceased.
Other adoptees have found out that their birth parents used aliases on the birth records, making it difficult or impossible to locate them.
A small percentage of adoptees have reached out to their birth families only to find out that the families are not ready to meet them yet.
Ohio is currently one of only a few states that allow some level of open access to birth records for adoptees.
For more information on state-by-state adoption record laws, please visit the American Adoption Congress site.