Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eliminate "Re-Adoption" in Alabama

Re: Elimination of the need to Re-Adopt Foreign Adopted Children in Alabama

Dear Adoptive Parents,

Currently in the State of Alabama parents of internationally adopted children must “re-adopt” their child in order to receive a “Certificate of Foreign Birth” (“CFB”) from the Alabama Center for Health Statistics that is operated by the Alabama Department of Public Health. A CFB is issued in Alabama for children adopted internationally instead of a standard birth certificate. The CFB essentially contains the same information as a birth certificate. It shows place and date of birth, child’s name and adoptive parents’ name(s) and information. The CFB can be used just like a birth certificate.

Why is a “Certificate of Foreign Birth” needed? It is not something that is a “must do”. International adoptions are usually completed in the country of birth and U.S. Citizenship is granted automatically. However, having a CFB may make life easier for both the adopted child and the adoptive parents. When the time comes to enroll in school, sports programs and other activities or seek medical care for the adopted child, that require proof of age, a CFB from the State of Alabama might be easier than using a foreign birth certificate that is either in a foreign language or has been translated into English. It may also make it easier when applying for a passport from the U.S. State Department or requesting services from the U.S. Social Security Administration. It may be easier to use a CFB when it comes time to apply for driver’s license or marriage license. Later in life when the adoptee needs to replace a lost or stolen birth certificate it will be much easier to contact the Alabama Center for Health Statistics to request a replacement of a CFB rather than trying to replace a birth certificate from a foreign country. So while a CFB may not be a “mandatory” item to have, it could very well make life easier for the adopted child.

Currently Alabama law only allows issuance of a CFB for adoptees whose adoptive parents have first obtained a court order from a circuit judge under the Alabama Foreign Judgments Act. In order to obtain a CFB a family must hire an attorney (or even worse, attempt it themselves) to file a petition in court to give effect to their foreign decree of adoption – even though they have already adopted. When a court in Alabama issues an order granting the petition, the adoptive parents may apply with the Center for Health Statistics for a CFB.

This process is unnecessarily costly and burdensome to families who have already completed the adoption of a foreign child. Legislation is being proposed to change this process. Under the changes to the legislation the Alabama Center for Health Statistics will be required to automatically recognize the already complete adoption and issue a CFB.

Proposed changes below:

"A decree of court or other officially recognized and authorized body terminating the relationship of parent and child or establishing the relationship by adoption issued under due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction within or outside of the United States shall be recognized in this state and the rights and obligations of the parties as to matters within the jurisdiction of this state shall be determined as though the decree were issued by a court of this state. A certified copy of said decree, when presented to the Center for Health Statistics, shall cause the state to issue a Certificate of Foreign Birth, for which the Center may charge a reasonable fee."

The proposed changes to legislation will ELIMINATE the need for a family to “re-adopt” a child they have already adopted. The family will receive the SAME “Certificate of Foreign Birth” that they would receive now after having gone through a “re-adoption”. An adoptive family will no longer need to spend more money, time and effort on “re-adoption”. An adoptive family will be able to simply and easily send their foreign adoption decree along with whatever processing fee the state requires to obtain a “Certificate of Foreign Birth”.

We need your support for this legislation!

If you have re-adopted:

We need you to write a short description of your re-adoption experience. How long did the process take? How much money did it cost you? Did you have to take time off work? What other hurdles did you have to overcome? What are your personal feelings about having to go through the re-adoption process?

If you are planning on re-adopting:

We need you to write a short description of why you have not done so. Why have you put it off? Is the expense too great? Are you intimidated by the process? Are you frustrated by the fact you have already gone through so much to adopt, why should you have to do more? Are there any other reasons for not readopting? What are your personal feelings about having to go through the re-adoption process?

Please send the information to me and I will see that Representative Hinshaw and Senator Bedford, the sponsors of the legislation, receive it. If you don't want to use your name just use your initials and the name of the city you live in. This will only take you a few minutes. Please take the time to write. You may email your reply to my email address: greg@sdiscuba.com

This information will be sent to the sponsors of the legislation to help demonstrate the need for change in Alabama law.

I also have a draft copy of the legislation. If you would like a copy email me at the address above and I will send it to you in pdf format.

Thank you for your time in considering helping with this issue.

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