Florida lawmaker seeks to open adoption records

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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
March 17, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- In Florida, adopted children who become adults have no mechanism for obtaining their original birth certificates, and now two members of the legislature who were adopted at birth are at at the center of the debate.

State Representatives Richard Stark and Jason Brodeur were both adopted. Both have very different takes on finding their birth parents.

"You found your birth parents some time ago?" we asked.

“30 years ago. I didn’t need a birth certificate to do it,” said Rep. Stark.

We asked Rep. Brodeur, ”Have you found your birth parents, or tried to?”

“Nope,” he said.

"Not interested?” we asked.

“Nope,” said Rep. Brodeur..

Stark has filed legislation that would allow adoptees, after they turn 18, to request the original copies of their birth certificates.

“I mean, it’s something that’s personal to you. You’d like to have a copy of it. It’s your history,” Rep. Stark says.

The idea is not without controversy.

Rep. Brodeur says, “What I don’t want to do is make it mandatory that those parents have to reveal themselves at some point. What I think that that could result in is higher numbers of terminations of pregnancies from those who fear what could happen in 18 years.”

New Jersey allows birth parents to opt out. But only 558 birth parents out of 300,000 did so.

Stark says that women more than men are more interested in finding their birth parents.

“And they, in more cases than the men, want to know where they came from. And so very often, they are the ones really pushing the legislation,” Rep. Stark says.

Stark shared that his mother was 15, got pregnant, and opted for adoption.

“I lucked out. I was raised in a great home. And I know from the birth family, even though they are very nice people, it was not a great situation,” Rep. Stark says.

Stark says he is still closer to his adopted parents who are 97 and 89.

Stark told us the greatest thrill of finding his birth parents is he learned they later married and have two more boys, whom he has met.

26 states have some mechanism for adoptees who become adults to get their original paperwork or medical records. All but two have some way for birth parents to opt out of being found.

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