Proposed Ohio Bill Would Open Birth Certificates to Adoptees

The following teaser is from an article posted in the February 11 edition of

Betsie Norris has access to her birth certificate, but thanks, in part, to her adoptive father’s testimony, thousands of people adopted between 1964 and 1996 do not.

Norris, executive director of Adoption Network Cleveland, plans to correct that with legislation that would improve access to adoptee’s birth certificates. Her father, William Norris, then a young attorney, testified in the 1960s that he wanted the records sealed to the public — but not the adopted children.

“While it was appropriate for the 1964 law to foreclose access to adoptees’ birth records maintained by the Department of Health as far as the general public was concerned, I now recognize that closing those birth records to adoptees whose adoptions were finalized after Jan. 1, 1964, was a grave mistake,” William Norris testified in 1994.

When children are adopted, they are given a new birth certificate with their adoptive parents’ names in place of their biological parents. People born before 1964 easily can obtain their original birth certificate from the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics. In 1964, concerns about biological parents contacting adopted children led to legislation that sealed original birth certificates. Children had to petition their county probate court for access to the papers.

Read the full article.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

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