Justice Rejects Block on Adoption Law

From Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor rejected Tuesday an emergency request to delay an adoption records law from going into effect, allowing adoptees 21 and older access to their birth certificate.

More than 2,200 adoptees already have paid $15 and filed applications with the state Health Division to get their original birth certificate. Most are eager to know their parents’ identities, and many want to know more about their medical histories.

The Health Division has said it will begin mailing birth documents as soon as today.

“I have a wonderful family, but there’s still that piece that’s missing,” said adoptee Geena Stonum, 41, of Portland. “When you see people who maybe look like you, you wonder if they’re maybe related to you.” She’s been searching for her birth parents on and off for 20 years.


But Frank Hunsaker, attorney for a group of six anonymous birth mothers who had fought the law in court over the last two years, was not pleased.

“My clients are extremely disappointed and scared and even angry that their rights have been ignored by Oregon’s voters and Oregon’s courts,” Hunsaker told KXL-AM radio in Portland.

The law approved by voters in 1998 allows adopted Oregonians 21 and older access to their original birth certificate, which can include the name of the biological mother.

The six women claimed the law violates the privacy of people who give their children up for adoption and had thought the confidentiality was guaranteed.


The Oregon Court of Appeals in December rejected their constitutional challenges to the adoption records law, and the Oregon Supreme Court has twice refused to review that ruling.

Last Tuesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to extend a stay blocking the law from taking effect, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as the only option for opponents.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a similar open adoption records law from Tennessee. Tennessee and just three other states--Alaska, Delaware and Kansas--allow adult adoptees access to original birth certificates, which often have birth parents’ names.