COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some adoptees seeking newly unsealed adoption records say the Ohio Department of Health has redacted information in the documents that they believe they’re legally entitled to under the law.
The legislation that took effect in March and unsealed about 400,000 Ohio adoption files says only the name of a birth parent can be redacted, supporters of the statute said. But adoptees seeking the files have found that other information is also unavailable in their files.
Meg Collins told The Columbus Dispatch hat she expected her mother’s name would be redacted on her original birth certificate since she had been told her mother was a rape victim. The Department of Health went further, she said, blacking out additional information about her.
“I’m not trying to cause an issue,” said Collins, 41, who was born in Ohio but now lives in Florida. “I just want what’s rightfully mine.”
Health Department employees have been instructed to redact the birth parent’s name, address, city and county, spokeswoman Melanie Amato said. The details are “personal indicators” and private health information, she said.
The new law sought to give adults whose adoptions were finalized between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996, access to their birth certificates and adoption files. Those adopted prior to 1964 have always had access and files of those finalized since 1996 have been open as long as the birth parent didn’t request exclusion.
“The basic premise of our bill is that the birth certificate belongs to the adoptee,” said Betsie Norris, of Adoption Network Cleveland.
The law gave birth parents a year to request a redaction.
State Sen. Bill Beagle, a sponsor of the legislation, said steps by the Health Department to redact more information go beyond the intent of the law. The Republican said he recently met with top officials at the department and is waiting on them to decide how to respond.