For Immediate Release: November 10, 1998
Contact: Open 98 Committee member Shea Grimm 425-883-7293

Historic Adoption Initiative Restores Adoptee Rights in Oregon

Voters convinced by arguments based on fairness, justice, and equal protection.

Tuesday, November 3rd Oregon voters resoundingly approved Measure 58, "The Adoptee Rights Initiative", which restores adult adoptee access to original birth certificates on request. The measure passed by a healthy margin of 57% to 43%, repealing a 1957 law.

Oregon now joins two other states, Kansas and Alaska, as well as many nations around the world including England, Argentina, and most of Australia, in recognizing an adult adoptee's right to access the government-held record of their birth.

The measure's Chief Petitioner, Helen Hill, says "The victory of Measure 58 signals a death knell to the failed experiment of sealed records. We are being reborn into integrity and honesty."

The ballot initiative in Oregon is groundbreaking in several ways.

This is the first time in U.S. history that an initiative to restore the right of adopted adults to request and receive their original birth certificate has been placed on a statewide ballot. It is also the first time a sealed records law has been repealed in the United States. Kansas and Alaska never sealed original birth certificates.

The measure is also significant because it frames the issue in terms of civil rights, fairness, and equal protection of the law rather than in terms of psychological need or medical necessity.

The success of Measure 58 in Oregon unmistakably demonstrates that the general public supports opening records to adult adoptees. Other adoption reform organizations have attempted to achieve the same result for over 20 years without a single success by relying on registries and intermediary systems that addressed the issue in psychological terms of search and reunion.

Although society has evolved to the point where being adopted should no longer be shameful, records have remained sealed due to pressure from industry lobby groups composed of adoption agencies and attorneys fearful of having their own past misconduct revealed while asserting a spurious "right to anonymity" of birthparents.

Birthparents and adoptees came out overwhelmingly in support of Measure 58, as did the general public, who recognized the inherent right of all people to know the facts of their birth. Voters confirmed that sealed records laws stigmatize adoption by perpetuating the lifelong presumption that adoptees are not to be trusted with the basic facts of their origin.

The passage of Measure 58 in Oregon signals the beginning of the end of state-sanctioned lies and secrecy in adoption.

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Contact: Open 98 Committee member Shea Grimm