There are many questions that people who were adopted wonder about: Where did I come from? What is my heritage? Where can I get more information about my birth family? Now, for adoptees in Missouri, getting the information to answer those questions has become easier. As of January 1st, adoptees over the age of 18 can request access to their original birth certificates. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, passed  in May 2017, led to the opening and easier retrieval of original birth certificates.

The ability to have an easier access to their original birth certificate will help many people obtain more information about their heritage. This is something lifelong Missouri resident Wendy Belcourt has been looking forward to for a long time. Wendy was adopted, and while she had a wonderful childhood, she stated in a Fox News Article, “I just didn’t feel complete and you know, there was never anybody I could mirror or relate to growing up as far as looks or even people to talk with about talents they get from Grandma. It was just a big gap.”

Once Wendy knew she was adopted, she wanted more information about her birth family. She began researching but kept coming to dead ends. Becoming a mother herself increased Wendy’s desire to learn more about her heritage. Wendy was also having some medical concerns and because of no birth family history, they were more difficult to treat.

However, in 2001 Wendy was able to access records that disclosed that her birth mother had passed away. This was a disappointment, but she was able to contact her birth father and her birth mother’s extended family and now keeps in touch with several of these family members.

Today, with the new law in place, Wendy will be able to access one of the last pieces of the puzzle: her birth certificate.  It is a stepping stone for many, including the over 1,000 people in Missouri, that have already requested their original birth certificate. Missouri is one of a growing number of states in this country that is acknowledging the importance of offering this information to those who were adopted.