(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act took effect Jan. 2 for adoptees born in and after 1941. This act allows Missouri-born adoptees of ages 18 older access to a copy of their original birth certificate.
Governor Nixon signed House Bill 1599 on July 1, 2016. The law said adoptees born before 1941 could request their original birth certificate in Aug. 2016 and adoptees born in and after 1941 could request theirs.
The time frame allowed parents of children born in and after 1941 to redact their names from their certificate.
G’s Adoption Registry hosted Breaking the Seal, an event that took place from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 for adults that were receiving their information. The event included a New Years Eve dinner, fundraisers and keynote speakers including State Representative Don Phillips.
Sharon Cummins, one of the organizers of the Breaking the Seal event, said she feels close to this event because she gave her daughter up for adoption and her daughter found her after 25 years.
Cummins said her shell came off after she reunited with her daughter and she became a more talkative and lively person.
“It hurts me to think that there are birth moms out there that feel uncomfortable with their situations,” she said.
Cummins said she is involved in support groups and works these events because she knows how difficult of a situation adoption can be. She has also written a book, “I Choose This Day: Mournings and Miracles of Adoption,” about her experience with adoption.
Dianne Magnusson, 74, an adoptee and another helper of the event, was adopted at three months old and waited up until four years ago to look for information on her birth.
“I was told they have our records in the county where we were adopted. I knew it was Jackson County, but I even wrote St. Louis City and County,” Magnusson said. “ A lady at St. Louis County even called me to say they didn’t have my records, but she had some info about me but wasn’t allowed to tell me. Strangers could know about me but I couldn’t know.”
Magnusson said she went through many different emotions while the bill was in the process of being passed.
She said she feels that many people don’t understand the thought process behind adoptees trying to find out more about where they came from.
“People didn’t understand that adoptees don’t want another family,” Magnusson said. “Many of us had good parents and a family. We wanted what was ours. What others could get. No one really understands if they weren’t adopted or don’t know someone who was adopted.”
She was given contact information for possible relatives and after doing some more digging, she found out she had four siblings, all of which were deceased.
“I had never even thought about having siblings. That was sad especially since I was raised an only child and always wanted a big brother,” Magnusson said.
She has since found more relatives through websites like Ancestry.com. She said the experience helped her get connected with Cummins and Heather Dodd, who started the Missouri Adoptee Rights Movement.
“It has been quite a journey. It is the best thing I have been involved with,” Magnusson said.