New Missouri law should help adoptees with family medical history
Missouri individuals who were adopted now have the right to access their birth certificates and find out the identities of their biological parents.
Until this year, the state protected the privacy of parents who gave up their babies for adoption.
The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, signed into law by former Gov. Jay Nixon last year established, effectively, that a person's right to know about their parents -- and thus medical history -- was more important than a parent's right to privacy.
This makes sense. If a person is predisposed to certain diseases, that's critical information to know, not just for the adoptee but for the adoptee's own children. It's reasonable that a person's health and knowledge about his or her genetic and medical history is more important, in the grand scheme of things, than a parent's request for privacy. The act of giving up a child for adoption is done, presumably for the well-being of the child. To that motive, making access to birth records seems appropriate.
As reporter Marybeth Niederkorn wrote in a recent story, a Cape Girardeau man who was adopted said there were medical tests his insurance company wouldn't pay for because he couldn't show family history of medical conditions. He said his first daughter was born prematurely and, without a family medical history, there were a lot of questions his doctors had he simply couldn't answer.
We believe the new law will help adoptees learn more about their past, which is important and is a very natural occurrence to those of us who are not adopted. We hope that the new law won't have the unintended consequences of fewer adoptions.
Adoptees wanting to gain access to their original birth certificate must pay a $15 fee and complete an application. There are still protections for those who already gave up children for adoptions with anonymity. The new law does permit mothers and fathers to notify the Bureau of Vital Records of their objection of the release of their identifying information, according to a story by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
We hope the new law allows adoptees to find out information that they can put to good use for their health and for the health of the next generation.