Adoption group supports bill to access original birth certificates

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Daryn Watson, 44, was adopted when he was seven months old. In 1995, at the age of 25, he was reunited with his birth mother.

"Deep down I felt I wanted to search [for her]," said Watson.

He lived in Austin at the time, but was born in Canada and found her after requesting her name from the Alberta government.

He is part of the nonprofit Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, which supports adult adoptees from Texas to be able to easily get their hands on original birth certificates.

It is something Connie Gray was able to do.

"As an adoptee I have two [birth certificates}," she said.

Her original birth certificate documents her biological family and includes the name of the hospital and doctor who performed her delivery. Once she was adopted she was issued another one, referred to as an amended birth certificate. It lists the names of Gray's adopted parents, but does not include the hospital name -- something she says has made it difficult to get a passport post 9-11.

According to Gray who is with Texas Adoptee Rights, there are only two ways for adults in Texas who were part of closed adoptions to get the original birth certificate: they must know their birth parents' names, or go to court and ask a judge.

She also devotes her time working with a search angel group helping people track down biological family members. Some turn to DNA search companies and post personal information on social media sites.

"It's not private, it's uncontrolled, and if the state of Texas wants control over this and wants to protect privacy they will restore equal access to original birth certificates to adult adoptees," said Gray.

Texas Sen. Dr. Donna Campbell disagrees. She has a daughter through a closed adoption, and shot down a bill last legislative session that aimed to make original birth certificates accessible to adult adoptees after the birth parents have died.

"A decision that was made at the time [of adoption] needs to be respected, and the government does not need to get involved in that decision," said Campbell.

In the last 15 years, a handful of states have reversed sealed records laws.

However, in Texas, there is one way for both the adopted person and parents to get in touch. The state has a voluntary registry for both parties to say it's OK to release identifying information.

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