PACER happily engages in collaborative alliances with those who work to transform and reform existing adoption policies, practices, and law in California. We fully support all organizations committed to getting a clean bills passed through our state legislature. In addition, we honor diverse opinions among our members and viewers, while continuing to advocate for the human and civil rights of ALL adopted individuals.
The most important law we support right now would grant adult adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. Today, California is still considered a closed-records state. It is one of 43 remaining states in the US that prohibits adult adoptees from obtaining their original birth certificates. This is important to adoptees seeking correct and truthful information about themselves. Most states are actively lobbying for their legislatures to open their records to adult adoptees. Recent successes include Ohio and New Jersey, both of which worked for over 30 years on this issue.
What is happening right now California?
There have been two access legislative efforts in California during the last decade, the most recent one mounted by the California Adoption Reform Effort (C.A.R.E.) in early 2009. While the bill (AB372 sponsored by then Majority Whip Assembly woman Fiona Ma) passed unanimously through the Assembly Judiciary Committee, it stalled in the Appropriations when a staggering $16 million price tag was attached.
As of 2016, California Open is the most active lobby for our state.
Where can I find more information about open records?
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute published two excellent reports on this issue in 2007 and 2010. You can find the summaries and/or the full reports here:
The American Adoption Congress has good compilation of each state’s laws.State Legislation
We also recommend this 7-minute video created by filmmaker and author Jean Strauss.
How you can help:
This issue seems to stall for a while but it gains traction quickly once it has a chance to be voted out of committee. At that time, it is important for those who support the bill to speak up by calling and sending letters, emails to state legislators. We’ll be active on social media to let you know when we need that extra support from constituents. It takes great effort on behalf of activists to get a clean bill into the committees to begin with, which involves meetings with individual legislators and their staff. If you’re unfamiliar with how a bill becomes a law in California, check out this Legislative Process Summary. We can’t have too much help with this early effort prior to committee votes so if you are interested in joining us, please contact our Legislative Director, Theresa Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have you.