COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Legislators in the Ohio House approved a bill Wednesday that would give the vast majority of adoptees in the state access to their adoption records when they reach adulthood.

Assuming the bill becomes law, it will mean that an estimated 400,000 Ohioans adopted between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996, will have access to official records, such as their birth certificates.

The legislation also sets up a mechanism through which adoptees can request information from biological parents about their medical history, but also gives the birth parents the option of whether to list personal contact information.

“All adoptees have a birth right to access all the pieces of the puzzle of their lives,” Rep. Nickie J. Antonio said in a statement. “Access to medical history is of the utmost importance to adoptees and their families.”

Antonio, a Democrat from Lakewood, sponsored a similar bill with Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, a Republican from Marysville. Their bill passed the House 96 to 1 in April. A companion bill in the Senate -- the bill approved Wednesday -- incorporated the same proposals. It was sponsored by Republican Sens. Bill Beagle of Tipp City and Dave Burke of Marysville.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Dec. 4. The House vote Wednesday was 88-2. The bill goes to Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to sign it.

The new law would not take effect for a year. The time was built into the legislation to give birth parents a chance to make known if they want to be contacted, and if so, how.

In other states with the contact preference option, very few birth parents choose to restrict their contact information, according to Antonio.

The legislation addresses Ohio's current law that, as it was amended over time, essentially became three laws in one.

One portion of the current law applies to those who were adopted before Jan. 1, 1964. Once those adoptees reach adulthood, they have full access to their adoption file via request to the Ohio Department of Health for a $20 fee.

The second portion applies to the group addressed by this bill, those adopted between Jan. 1, 1964, and Sept. 18, 1996. They were unable to get their birth certificates unless they have a court order.

The third group, those adopted on or after Sept. 18, 1996, already is able to obtain their adoption files for the $20 fee unless their biological parents asked that the files be sealed. Those rules are unchanged.

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