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New legislation would give adoptees access to birth certificate

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BATON ROUGE - A bill heading through the House would make it legal for adoptees to see their original birth certificates.

Currently, those records are only available through open adoptions or if ruled by a court.

HB 450 was heard by a legislative committee Monday morning, and it was proposed by representative Charles Owen, who himself is adopted. But he says that wasn't the motive behind the proposal.

“Several people have asked me about getting my own birth certificate, and I will tell you in my case, that's not the reason I did this at all. I'm not going to get mine. I went through the process last year of the muscle movements, so I could speak to it when I got here, so I could tell you what it's like and the difficulties the state has put in front of its citizens,” he said before the committee.

But not everyone agrees with the proposed legislation.

“My parents are my parents. You know I appreciate what my birth parents did for me,” Baton Rouge resident Ben Leblanc said.

Thirty-one-year-old Leblanc was adopted when he was six days old.

“The biggest question I get asked by people when they find out I'm adopted is whether or not I have any interest in finding out who my birth parents are,” Leblanc said.

His adoption was closed.

“My birth certificate, that's redacted,” he explained.

So, he can only see certain information.

“You know whatever it was, eight pounds, seven ounces however many ounces I was just basically everything but my parents' names,” he said.

The new legislation would let him access that information without the court, but he doesn't agree with it.

“Not at all. I think it's a gross invasion of privacy. It kind of negates the whole purpose of a closed adoption,” he said.

But others who are for the bill say a birth mother's rights shouldn't be honored over the adoptee's rights.

“Well for that matter, turn it around. Why does a 24-year-old have more rights than someone by now is probably 45 with a family, has moved on with their life,” he said.

Leblanc says he understands why certain circumstances like medical reasons may require someone to need the information, but he wouldn't change anything about his closed adoption process and believes the process should stay as it is.

The bill was voted in favor of 12 to 1 by the Civil Law and Procedure Committee. So now, it'll move to the floor for further consideration before going to the Senate.

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