Parties seek role in court on adoptee law

Thursday, December 10 1998

By Spencer Heinz of The Oregonian staff

Three Oregon residents and an adoptee-rights organization are seeking a judge's permission to help the state fight a lawsuit that has kept adoptees from obtaining their original birth certificates despite voter approval last month.

In a motion delivered Wednesday to Marion County Circuit Court Judge Albin W. Norblad in Salem, the four parties have requested status to intervene on behalf of the state.

If approved by Norblad, that would give them the ability to participate in discovery and exchange of information, cross-examination and related activities in court, said the Portland attorney who filed the motion, Thomas E. McDermott.

Those seeking intervention are the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association, an Oregon nonprofit corporation that says it has a membership of about 200; Helen Hill, the Nehalem art teacher and chief petitioner for Measure 58, which voters approved 57 percent to 43 percent in the Nov. 3 general election; Curtis Endicott, 50, a St. Helens resident and an adoptee; and Susan Updike, 52, a Scappoose resident and birth mother who says she neither sought nor received any assurances that her true identity would be kept from her child.

The suit filed by four birth mothers argues that they were promised confidentiality when they relinquished their children to adoption years ago. The other side says no one had authority to make such promises.

Last week, the judge ordered a stay until legal challenges are resolved, which could take months.

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