New bill could give adopted people in La. access to their birth certificate

Should people who are adopted have access to their original birth certificates? That's the question that has some divided at the capital.
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 11:07 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2022 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Adults who were adopted as children in Louisiana could finally gain access to their original birth certificates.

HB 450, proposed by Rep. Charles Owen, would allow adults who were adopted as kids to gain access to their records once they turn 24.

The bill was passed by the House Monday, March 28, and will now go before the Senate.

“I should have the right, as any non-adoptive citizen, to get my birth certificate from the state of Louisiana,” said Lewis.

Lewis said under current Louisiana law, adoption records are sealed and are only available through a court order.

She said she has fought for more than 30 years to get her hands on her original birth certificate.

“We have to sue the court, hire a lawyer, petition the court, go to a judge, and a judge will arbitrability decide whether my reason for wanting my birth certificate is good or not,” said Lewis.

Lewis said it wasn’t always like this.

In 1977, state lawmakers decided to make the change and seal adoption records. If this new bill is passed, people like Lewis can finally get their hands on their files.

“The document I have has a bunch of blanks all over it, it has my adoptive parent’s names on it, it doesn’t even tell me what hospital I was born at, it has my date screwed up at the top where I wasn’t sure if March 22nd was even my real birthday or not,” said Lewis.

The bill is facing pushback from anti-abortion groups.

Groups went in front of lawmakers and argued that it breaks the agreement Louisiana makes with parents who choose adoption over abortion.

Adoptive parents like Tyler Koch wants people to consider a different angle.

“I listened to adults that were adopted on what mattered to them,” said Koch.

Koch adopted two kids of her own and believes they should have the same equal rights.

“What issues are important to them? What issues are they facing? How can I protect my children? How can I make sure that they have equal rights as everyone else,” asked Koch.

The bill was passed with some opposition, but advocates say this isn’t over.

“You just take a deep breath, tell them to thank you for your time, and I’ll keep fighting,” said Lewis.

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