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State Senator

Steve Cassano

Representing Andover, Bolton, Glastonbury & Manchester

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Senator Cassano Advocates to Restore Adoption Birth Right Access

HARTFORD, CT – On Tuesday, April 16, co-chairs of the Planning & Development Committee Senator Steve Cassano (D-Manchester) and Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Fairfield) joined Cindy Wolfe Boynton, President of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to discuss proposed legislation to address restoring access to original birth records by adult adopted persons. Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), Senator Derek Slap (D-West Hartford), Representative Tom Delnicki (R-South Windsor), Representative Jane Garibay (D-Windsor), Representative Anne Hughes (D-Easton), Representative Pat Wilson Pheanious (D-Ashford), Representative Gary Turco (D-Newington) and Representative Michael Winkler (D-Vernon) were also in attendance.

“Individuals can learn so much from their family history,” said Senator Cassano. “For example, birth records can reveal information about someone’s family medical history. Medical issues can be prevented or proactively treated if individuals have access to this information and lives can be saved. People can also receive the comfort of learning more about their familial heritage and origins. Adopted persons deserve this information and I’m committed to helping them get it. I’m eager to continue working with my colleagues to see this legislation passed this year.”

Senate Bill 972, “An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records by Adult Adopted Persons,” would amend state statutes to allow all adopted individuals, and their children and grandchildren, to obtain their original birth certificates.

Under current state laws, only individuals born or adopted after Oct. 1, 1983 can access their original birth certificates. Any individuals born or adopted before that date are prohibited from accessing those records. In Connecticut, there are more than 38,000 residents who were born and adopted before 1983.

When the General Assembly raised this issue in 2017 and 2018 – despite having bipartisan appeal – it was not enacted. Seven other states, including Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire, have passed similar legislation.

“Fairness is the guiding principle behind the legislation,” Rep. McCarthy Vahey said. “All adoptees deserve equal treatment under Connecticut law.”

“This bill is about compassion, connection, and fairness,” said Senator Anwar. “The connection includes the right of an individual to know about their family history. We know from our current medical knowledge that family history information is critical in helping prevent and early identification of illness. This bill will allow the adopted individuals to not only connect with their heritage, but with information to possibly live longer and healthier.”

"There are many reasons to support this legislation, including basic fairness and knowing about you family health history," said Senator Derek Slap, a longtime supporter of an adoptee's right to see their original birth certificate. "But even more important is the need of many folks to simply understand who they are and where they came from. I not only respect that, but I can empathize with it. So I stand firmly in support of Senate Bill 972 and I hope to see its passage into law later this session."

“I see this as a civil rights issue,” said Rep. Delnicki. “An adoptee should have every right in the world to their original birth certificate—it’s only fair, it’s only right.”

“I think every individual has the right to know their origin story and their medical history,” said Rep. Jane Garibay.

“This bill is about the access to basic civil rights,” said Rep. Hughes. “SB 972 rectifies poor policy implemented by our legislature years ago that denies a group of Connecticut adoptees access to their own birth records. There is no shame in knowing who we are and to whom we were born. There is only shame in perpetuating misguided government-sanctioned secrecy. No person is illegitimate and I am proud to co-sponsor a bill that will restore the basic rights of adoptees.”

“Family medical history is essential to better understanding one owns health and that’s why I’ve advocated so strongly for SB 972,” said Rep. Michael Winkler. “While it’s concerning to me that when we made considerations for older and younger adopted individuals to access their original birth certificates, we left out this equally important group. The fact that they are unable to access their family medical histories is horrific and potentially detrimental to their health.”

“We should make original birth certificates accessible to all adoptees as a fundamental civil right,” Rep. Gregg Haddad said. “And with the advent of widespread DNA testing and networking, it becomes an even easier policy decision to open these records. There are no secrets anymore and privacy arguments collapse as Ancestry.com can provide detailed information about relatives after a simple test. Let's do what should have been done a long time ago and allow every citizen access to accurate information about their birth.”

“Accessing your family’s medical records can often to be the key to unlocking or understanding your own health. It seems cruel that we would allow this ability to some, but not all adopted individuals, however, we must ensure we strike a delicate balance,” said Rep. Pat Wilson Pheanious. “At the time of the mother’s difficult decision, they were promised anonymity and while we work to ensure that these adopted individuals better understand their own medical history, we must better understand the potential consequences and implications of releasing this information while seeking to find protections for all parties involved. Using updated technologies we must look for opportunities to improve the nature and ability of the registry to collect this pertinent information.”

“All adoptees deserve to be treated equally and fairly and have access to their original birth certificates in order to learn about their families medical histories,” said Rep. Gary Turco. “It is a basic human right for every person to know their biological origins.”

The bill now awaits a vote by the Senate.

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