“Right now, we’re being treated like second-class citizens, like perpetual minors,” said Karen Caffrey, president of Access Connecticut Now, grassroots advocacy group which lobbied in support of the bill.
Caffrey and Carol Goodyear, vice president of the group, watched the debate from the Senate gallery. The legislation won’t apply to Goodyear, who was born in 1956. But, she said, “I’m fine with that because I’m looking at the bigger picture…this is a small window that’s going to open a bigger window.”
The bill passed the House of Representatives last week after an impassioned plea by Rep. David Alexander, an Enfield Democrat who is adopted. It now goes to Gov. Malloy for consideration.
The bill that cleared the Senate by a vote of 31 to 5 enables qualified adoptees to obtain their birth certificates from the state Department of Public Health. If their biological parents signed a health history form or a contact form, the adoptee would also be permitted to get that too. Advocates estimate that about 24,000 people adopted after 1983 will benefit from the bill.
Critics in the state Senate said they sympathize with an adoptees quest to obtain their medical histories and find out more about their identity.
But they said those concerns must be balanced with the rights of both the biological and adoptive parents.
“I’m very concerned about the impact this decision will have on adoption in the state of Connecticut,” said Sen. Michael McLachlan, a Danbury Republican who described himself as a reluctant opponent. “Ideally the medical records should be made available but those medical records must be made available anonymously.”
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, also voted no, even though he understands why adoptees would be driven to resolve “the huge question mark” surrounding their birth.
But Kissel said he has to balance that a desire not to discourage pregnant women from considering adoption. “I wouldn’t want anything going against bringing a child to term and offering it to adoption,” he said.
But, Caffrey said, it’s a civil rights issue. “It’s a human rights issue,” she said.