Hearing on adoptee law scheduled for Jan. 19

Parties have asked the court if they can help defend Measure 58, which would allow adults to see their original birth certificates

Tuesday, December 22 1998

By Spencer Heinz of The Oregonian staff

A hearing has been set for Jan. 19 in a lawsuit over a voter-approved Oregon law that would enable adult adoptees to see their original birth certificates.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Albin W. Norblad set the date to hear arguments on whether to allow into the case several parties who have asked to help the state defend the new law, a judge's spokesman said Monday.

Those seeking intervention are 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; the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association; 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 identity would be kept from her child.

If approved by Norblad, their motion to intervene would give them the ability to participate in discovery and exchange of information, cross-examination and related activities in court. The state Department of Justice, which will defend the law in court, has told the court that it supports the motion by Hill and the others to intervene.

The law was supposed to become effective on Dec. 3, but shortly before, opponents sued the state and Norblad placed the law on hold until the case could be resolved in court.

Four anonymous birth mothers sued the state on claims that they were promised confidentiality when they relinquished their children to adoption years ago. The other side argues that no one had authority to make such promises. Three additional birth mothers have since joined the suit against the state.

Lawyers with the Oregon Attorney General's office have said they expect the case to take at least two or three months, unless the decision is appealed to a higher court.

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