Virginia Delegate Wendell Walker (R-Lynchburg) has filed a bill in the House of Delegates that, if enacted (provided a glitch in the bill is removed), would restore a right that all Virginia-born adopted people once had: a right to request and obtain your own original birth certificate.
Here’s what we know so far.
Introduction of HB1969
The bill appear constituent-driven in response to a news story that appeared in November. The bill is simple and direct, particularly within the complex legal framework that controls the release of original birth certificates for Virginia-born adopted people. The text of the bill is here, and the substantive provision states that:
at the written request and upon proof of identification, the Commissioner shall provide an adult adoptee access to his original birth certificate and make such certificate available for copy.HB1969, as of January 10, 2023
There is one glitch: the wrong state agency commissioner is required to issue the original birth certificate. Instead of the Department of Health—which has the OBC on file within its vital records division— the “Commissioner” referred to in the bill is the head of the Department of Social Services, which does not typically have a pre-adoption birth certificate in its adoption-related files. That glitch should be fixed.
The bill author (known as a chief “patron” under Virginia legislative practice) is Republican Representative Wendell Walker of Lynchburg. He offered the bill on January 10, 2023, and it has been assigned to the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. Important Note: in odd years, Virginia has a short legislative session. The current session will adjourn by February 25, 2023, which means the bill is on an extremely tight timeframe and must pass the full House of Delegates in order to crossover to the Senate by February 7.
It is important to understand that the bill, as written, will need at least one amendment to fix the agency responsible for releasing the OBC. In addition, we must assure that the bill does not add discriminatory restrictions or dilutes a person’s right to obtain their own birth record. We are monitoring the bill closely and will update as we learn more information.
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