Arkansas can now be added to the growing list of states that have unsealed adoption records. As of August 1st, adoptees over the age of 21 may request their adoption file. Most of those files will include an original birth certificate. There is a $100 fee to cover the cost of processing. Adoptees can submit written requests, but it needs to be notarized and include proof of identification.
“If you go to the doctor and you have a certain thing going on with you, now you can have the birth history or the family history of what’s going on. Where [previously], if adoptees had something or a certain illness, they wouldn’t have the family history behind them,” Branch Chief of Vital Records Nathaniel Noble said.
Birth parents have the option to have their names redacted from the file, leave medical history information, and provide a contact preference. Each parent must submit a form. One may not be sent by one parent for another. Forms were released online prior to August for birth parents to fill out.
Act 519 was signed into law in March 2017 by Governor Asa Hutchinson. Adoptee Shane Carter worked on the bill with State Rep. Deborah Ferguson. Carter says, “This is about the right to information; it isn’t about the right to a relationship. As we started working to put the bill together, we wanted something that is fair to both parties.”
While some adoptees have an issue with the redactions, at least it’s a step in right direction for human rights.
More information, as well as redaction forms to update an adoption file, may be found online at www.healthy.arkansas.gov or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-462-0599. Forms must be returned to the ADH Vital Records Department, State Registrar, 4815 West Markham St., Slot 44, Little Rock, AR 72205.