COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
Senator Joan B. Lovely
2nd Essex District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 30, 2022
Senate Passes Legislation Giving Adoptees Access to Birth Certificates
BOSTON– On Friday, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to ensure that all adoptees will have access to their original birth certificates. Under current state law, an adopted person born between July 17, 1974 and January 1, 2008 cannot access their original birth certificate without obtaining a court order that unseals their record. The legislation passed by the Senate would close this gap and allow adopted individuals over the age of 18 or the adoptive parents of a child under 18 to access the adoptee’s original birth certificate.
“At this point in time, we should not deny people access to their medical information and life history simply because of when they were born, or subject them to a cumbersome process,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I want to thank Senators Gobi, Comerford, and Lovely for their work on this legislation.”
“Many adoptees have been waiting their whole lives to learn their history, and I am honored to have played a part in helping them access their original birth certificates,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules. “For the sake of preserving our health and well-being, it is crucial to know what physical or mental health conditions to which we may be predisposed. By giving all adoptees born in Massachusetts access to their original birth certificates, this legislation closes a 34 year gap granting generations of individuals medical knowledge they have otherwise been denied. Thank you, Senate President Spilka, Senator Gobi, Representative Garballey, and all my Senate colleagues for affirming that everyone deserves to know where and from whom they came so they can make the most informed decisions possible for themselves.”
“The Joint Committee on Public Health heard powerful testimony from adoptees who could not access their original birth certificate due to a current loophole in state law addressed by this legislation,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. “I’m delighted that the Senate passed this important bill, and grateful to Senator Anne Gobi for her advocacy and to Senate President Spilka for bringing the bill to the floor.”
“Today, the Senate took a major step in assuring equality by guaranteeing that all adoptees, regardless of when they were born, will have access to their original birth certificate,” said Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer), lead sponsor of the bill. “This would not have been possible without the strong advocacy of Senate President Spilka, Senator Joan Lovely and so many adoptees, including Jean Strauss of East Brookfield. As the lead sponsor of the bill, I have waited six years for its passage, so many have waited their entire lives, and today we tell them the wait is over and they matter.”
Individuals adopted before 1974 or after 2008 are already able to access their original birth certificates without going through the courts system. They can do so on their own once they turn 18, or earlier with the help of their adoptive parents.
The same language having previously passed the House of Representatives, the bill will be delivered to the Governor for his consideration.