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Adoptee group still pushing for access to birth certificates

Earlier attempt failed in last legislative session

SAN ANTONIO – The story of Erica Dawn Royko’s search for her birth parents touched a familiar nerve for Connie Gray, the founder of Texas Adoptee Rights, a political action group that has been pushing for access to original birth certificates.

Gray said contrary to the archaic belief that birth parents don’t want to be contacted, “We now know from statistics that 98 percent of birth parents do want to be located.”

She said secrecy had been the standard, but not anymore.

“Over 90 percent of adoptions are open. People being adopted now, do know their family history,” Gray said.

Royko said she began looking for her biological parents in hopes of learning their medical history after being diagnosed with a rare brain condition. But she said all she has is a birth certificate that lists her adoptive parents in Bexar County, now deceased.

Gray said House Bill 984 would have allowed adults over 18 who were adopted to get their original birth certificates.

The bill did not make it to the governor desk. 

She said it also would have given birth parents a choice, “Contact me, don’t contact me or contact me through a third party.”

However, State Senator Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, an adoptive parent, removed the bill from consideration last year.

I support and we need to encourage full disclosure of medical histories during the adoption process. That's the solution that will benefit adoptive families the most while still respecting the rights of birth parents who wish to remain anonymous. Weighing any additional interests is a duty best served by the courts. It remains my priority to help Texas families adopt and remove barriers that too often make adoption costly and cumbersome.

Jon Oliver, her chief of staff, said others were concerned the process would be harder for families to manage, discouraging adoptions.  

However, with one adoption court in each of the state’s 254 counties, Gray said the definition of “good cause” varies.

Gray said her group isn’t giving up on the next session of the Texas Legislature. She said, “There are now 18 states that have some form of access to original birth certificates. We hope Texas will be next on the list.”