400,000 birth certificates unsealed in Ohio - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

400,000 birth certificates unsealed in Ohio

Hundreds of adoptees waited outside the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics in Columbus to get their previously-sealed birth certificates. (Source: WOIO) Hundreds of adoptees waited outside the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics in Columbus to get their previously-sealed birth certificates. (Source: WOIO)
Shelly Steinmetz sits with her son, Anakin, as she shares her excitement of learning her history. (Source: WOIO) Shelly Steinmetz sits with her son, Anakin, as she shares her excitement of learning her history. (Source: WOIO)
COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - On Friday, 400,000 previously-sealed birth certificates became available to people adopted in Ohio between 1964 and 1996. There was a mad rush in Columbus to start the process.
 
Local advocates have been campaigning for decades to allow these adoptees access to their birth records, helping them unlock the key to who they are and where they come from.
 
Shelly Steinmetz, has never been so excited to fill out paperwork. She was born in Oberlin in 1988, and was adopted into a family she says provided everything a kid could ever hope for.

"I've always had questions though. What was my story? How did I end up there? I want to know more about my birth mom and birth father," she said.

Until now, her original birth certificate -- and the secrets it unlocks -- were sealed.

"It kind of seems a little unfair that we were cut off from that," said Steinmetz.

"It's not about finding your parents. It's about finding your roots. It's about finding your nationality, your health history," said Dottie Klemm, who has been advocating for open adoption records for decades. "Many families have been wondering what happened to that child? Are they safe? Are they well? And perhaps they will be hearing from them."

Klemm says the new law also gives birth parents the opportunity to provide some health information, submit contact information, or request that they not be contacted. 

Once she gets that precious piece of paperwork in her hands, Steinmetz plans to pray about it and about her birth mother, then decide her path.

"If she named me something different, I would probably find out. I'd at least get a name and probably an address of where she lived at the time. It gives you something to start with. I don't really know what I'm going to do with it yet, but it's empowering to have that information," Steinmetz said.
 
For help navigating this new law, contact Adoption Network Cleveland at 216-325-1000. Follow more stories on Adoption Network Cleveland's Facebook page.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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