SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Iowans who were adopted now have a better shot at accessing their original birth records. Bill HF855 was passed and took effect in January.
Before this year, Iowa adoptees were given a secondary birth certificate detailing when and where they were born.
Now, they can apply to have the original one unsealed which could help them reunite with their biological family.
Elizabeth Scholten lives in Ireton. As soon as she turned 18 she began searching for her personal records.
She said she had to jump through hoops for more than a decade and it wasn’t until about five years ago she was able to learn about her family history.
“As an adoptee myself, being able to access birth records, it’s a vital piece of identity that is finally accessible. So many kids that are adopted, there’s so many questions that are raised on who am I, where did I come from… I know like in my personal history there was a lot of medical history that I didn’t know before,” Scholten said.
She adds autism and epilepsy runs in her birth family.
Knowing that, she said the new law helps allow for a healthier beginning for the next generation.
However, she said, it wasn’t easy learning her difficult past once she gained access to certain records and it won’t be any easier for her kids.
“I know personally for my children, if they were to find out some certain information that pertain to their birth history they would be absolutely devastated… Not everyone’s going to be able to handle it the same way and that’s why we’re going to need a spectrum of services to help individuals navigate through the emotions that could arise through these documents that they can now access,” Scholten added.
Scholten said the new law is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to support adoptees past the age of 18.
She adds she wishes mental health care was more accessible for those in need.
You can read about bill HF855 here. Applications for birth records can be accessed here.