A new South Carolina law will allow children adopted in the state to see their sealed birth certificates after they turn 18 with written consent from their birth parents
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Marie Anderson wishes the kind of law South Carolina just enacted had been in place when she decided to look for her biological parents in the early 1990s.
“I went to foster parents when I was 5 days old,” said Anderson, now 82 and a coordinator for the ALMA Society, an organization that provides adoptees with resources to connect with their biological parents.
She conducted painstaking research through the New York court system, city directories and ancestry data to find her birth mother.
South Carolina’s new law should make adoptees’ search for their birth parents much easier.
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The law signed by Gov. Henry McMaster in May gives adoptees 18 years and older access to their birth certificates and any other information on file, which could include the medical history and contact information for birth parents, if provided. South Carolina was one of 22 states that seal original birth certificates of adopted children.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is reviewing the law to figure out how to implement it when it goes into effect in July 2019, applying to adoptions after that date.
South Carolina Foster Parent Association’s Executive Director Carl Brown, who has fostered more than 200 children and adopted six in addition to raising three biological children, supported the measure.
“I had a lot of children come through my home,” Brown said. “Many of them at some point in their life want to know from where they came and who they are.”
Along with the emotional connection, finding parents can be critical to the health of adopted children, Anderson said.
“We find that adoptees are given so many more tests because they have no medical history and doctors feel they can’t take any chances,” Anderson said.
She said that her search found her birth mother living just “4 miles (6 kilometers) down the road” from where she grew up.
“She didn’t admit to anything at first, but after three or four days, I got her to confess,” Anderson said.
Despite decades of searching, Anderson still hasn’t found her father, but she’s come to terms with that.
“I may never know, but that’s why I do what I do,” she said. “Now I have some closure.”