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Politics & Government

Utah-born adoptees could soon have easier access to their birth certificates and health information

A concept image of a blue book with a white family paper cutout on top with a judge's gavel next to it on a desk.
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The Utah Adoption Registry has been around since 1987, but a new law effective Nov. 1 will make it easier for adoptees to access their birth certificates and health histories, if their biological parents choose to upload the information.

Starting next month, Utah-born adoptees could soon have easier access to a copy of their birth certificate and health histories. A law passed by the state Legislature last year allows birth parents to upload the information into an updated online registry.

Aubree Sullivan is a licensed clinical worker in southern Utah and works with adoptees. Her mother was also adopted. She said when her mom went through the process of finding out more about her birth parents, it was time consuming and mentally draining.

Sullivan said the changes can make it less traumatic for people to find out about their past.

“To have the access basically at your fingertips, you don't have to essentially do a manhunt to track people down,” she said. “To just be able to click and access that information is huge and I think potentially it limits some of the stuff that comes with someone reaching out on their own without any information.”

Kathy Searle is the vice president of programs in Utah for the nonprofit, Raise the Future. She said an important aspect of the new law is the potential for adoptees to access health information.

“If you think about any time you go to the doctor or to the hospital or any kind of medical, they're asking you questions about your health history,” Searle said. “For adoptees, all they can do is put ‘adopted’ and they have absolutely no information.”

Searle said before it could be daunting to petition a court to get a copy of a birth certificate, and some people don’t even know that’s a possibility. She does worry the online registry will be a potential barrier for older biological parents.

“I don't know that a biological parent would be as apt maybe to do that as an adoptee would, but some would,” she said. “Every situation is so unique and so different.”

Ultimately, Searle said this is a good first step in helping Utah-born adoptees.

Norm Thibault is a licensed marriage and family therapist and CEO of Three Points Center, a residential treatment center in southern Utah that’s exclusive to adopted children. He’s an advocate for open adoptions because he said research shows it’s the healthiest choice for everyone involved.

“Answering some of the questions that children have about their origins, their history and all of that is so crucial to their mental, physical and medical makeup,” he said. “If we can provide answers, even though they may at times be unpleasant, then my goodness, we need to give them that.”

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