Louisiana bill to make way for adopted people to reach out to biological parents rejected _lowres

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Louisiana House Civil Law committee hears legislation Monday on the release of information after an adoption.

A bill that would have created an avenue for adopted people to reach out to their biological parents was rejected by a Louisiana House committee on Monday.

House Bill 391, by state Rep. Nancy Landry, would allow people who are adopted to file a motion with a court to open the adoption file and be appointed a “confidential intermediary.” The intermediary would reach out to the birth parents asking if they would be willing to provide information or have contact with their biological son or daughter.

Today, a judge can order adoption records to be opened if the person who is adopted can provide a “compelling reason” to the court. However, adoption advocates said it’s rare that the courts open the adoption files. HB391 gives the biological parents an opportunity to volunteer records, medical or otherwise, to their biological children.

“I don’t believe the child’s rights should be ignored or disregarded because someone may be embarrassed about something that happened in their past,” said Isabel Wingerter, who represented the Louisiana State Law Institute, which backed the bill. “The right to privacy of the mother should not override the rights of the child.”

Adoption groups opposed the bill, both because of privacy concerns for the biological parents and because some groups thought the bill shouldn’t give the biological parents a say in whether the records should be available.

Ultimately, a judge would retain final say over whether adoption records are unsealed.

“One private citizen cannot block another private citizen’s access to his or her own true story of their birth,” said Kenny Tucker, who was adopted as a child. He said the bill effectively lets the biological parents tell the judge how to rule on whether to release records like a birth certificate.

The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure voted 3-7 against sending the measure to the full House for consideration.

Follow Rebekah Allen on Twitter, @rebekahallen.

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