Colorado has adopted new standards to provide for uniform access to
adoption records, including original birth certificates. The new law recognizes
that members of the three primary parties of an adoption - adopter, adopted,
and birth parents - all have interests in the adoption records, especially
whether those records should be disclosed. The new law maintains the confidentiality
to non-private parties (except by court order), but clarifies when those
records may be disclosed to members of the adoptive triad during the lifetime
of the adoptee, after the adoptee is deceased or during the lifetime of
the adoptive parents.
"Contact Preference" Under the Old System
In years past, a birth parent would indicate the preference for release
of the original birth certificate by using a "contact preference"
form, which would be issued by the state's registrar. The birth parent
declares on this document whether they prefer to be contacted by any of
the two other primary parties of an adoption, either directly or done
by a disconnected, neutral party. This form will no longer be used after
December 31, 2015. Beginning January 1, 2016, the contact form will change,
no longer offering the option of refusing to release the original birth
certificate to the other parties involved, including descendants.
Recent Changes Bring Greater Access
The new law expressly states that it is the intent of the Colorado legislature
that access to adoption records should not depend on the law in place
when the adoption took place. The new law also affirms current Colorado
law which requires the keeper of adoption records to release those records,
to any interested party with valid reason, including legal advocates (i.e.
a lawyer or court guardian). Additionally, Colorado law requires that
the keeper of adoption records must also provide, on request, direct access
to an adoptee's spouse, half-siblings, and a myriad of other loosely
related family members
Are the changes retroactive?
But what to do with access to adoption records for adoptions that occurred
before the new law goes into effect? The new law specifies how to phase
out the preferences used in the old contact forms and directs the state
registrar, in some instances, to locate the adoptive parents to determine
their current wishes. In other instances, the law permits the state registrar
to release the original birth certificate containing the name of the parent
wishing confidentiality deleted, but otherwise disclosing the consenting parent.