Adoptees in South Dakota are once again pushing to get a bill passed allowing them access to their birth records. They almost accomplished it in 2009, but fell short. Following is an excerpt for a lengthy and interesting AP article in the October 4, 2009 Rapid City Journal.
Even though Oaks, who was adopted as an infant, already had met her birth mother — had, in fact, helped plan the woman’s funeral — it bothers her that she can’t access her original birth records, only an amended certificate.
“The girl behind the counter at the Minnehaha County Courthouse knows more about me than I know,” she says.
That desire to see what they call “the first legal paper that is mine” is why Twite, Oaks and other South Dakota residents seek to change state law.
Rather than have to go before a judge to obtain their birth records, a bill they’re pushing would allow adoptees 18 and older to obtain the documents from the state Department of Health.
A similar bill struggled but eventually passed both chambers in the 2009 Legislature.
It was amended to allow a birth parent to state a preference for contact by an adopted person with the state Department of Social Services maintaining the registry.
DSS originally had approved the bill but withdrew its support after the amendment passed.
The bill failed to move out of conference committee when three of the six legislators would not support it.
But state residents who belong to South Dakota Support and Education for Adoption Legislation are undeterred.