Oregon Ballot Measure 58, 1998

Source: www.plumsite.com/oregon

Oregon did not endorse a strict regime of confidentiality and sealed records until 1957, and nothing prevented adult adoptees in the state from obtaining copies of their adoption records, including original birth certificates, before the 1950s. Forty-one years after passage of the 1957 law, which placed adoption information off limits, Chief Petitioner Helen Hill, Bastard Nation, and other advocates sought to overturn adoption secrecy. They took their case directly to voters, a novel approach in adoption reform. A majority (57%) of those voters agreed that sealed records had no place in adoption. After the election, thousands of adoptees applied for their original birth certificates, but the measure did not go into effect because of a lawsuit filed by a group of birth mothers who challenged its constitutionality and argued that it violated their rights by ignoring the assurances they had been given that their identities would remain confidential. Their suit ultimately failed. Ballot Measure 58 was upheld. Oregon's open records policy has been in effect since the summer of 2000.




Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person 21 years of age and older born in the state of Oregon shall be issued a certified copy of his/her unaltered, original and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon non-adopted citizens of the State of Oregon pursuant to ORS 432.120 and 432.146. Contains no exceptions.


This measure changes existing law to allow an adopted person 21 years of age or older to obtain a copy of the person's original birth certificate. Current Oregon law prohibits the release of an original birth certificate to such an adopted person without a court order. The law currently requires that upon receipt of a decree of adoption or a report of adoption from a court, the state registrar shall issue a new birth certificate unless the court, the adoptive parents or the adopted person requests otherwise.

This measure requires that upon receipt of a written application the state registrar shall provide a copy of the original birth certificate to an Oregon born adopted person 21 years of age or older. This measure requires that the procedures, filing fees and waiting periods for certified copies of original birth certificates be the same for requests by adopted persons as for non-adopted persons.
This measure applies to persons adopted in the past or in the future. There are no exceptions to this measure.


Source: Oregon Secretary of State 1998 General Election Voter Guide, available online at www.sos.state.or.us/elections/nov398/guide/measure/m58.htm

Page Updated: 2-24-2012
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To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3699
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
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