KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill into law Friday empowering children with a deceased parent who was adopted to see that deceased parent's original birth certificate.
Missouri State Rep. Don Phillips, who is also an adoptee, sponsored the measure.
"A son of a father, a grandson, a great-grandson, right on down the line have the right to apply for the adoptee parent's original birth certificate if the adoptee is deceased," said Phillips. "It could be anyone in that direct line of lineage if the adoptee is deceased."
The new rights for children of adoptees are the latest victory for Missouri adoptees and their families.
In 2016, Phillips sponsored the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act. It passed with an overwhelming majority and was signed into law. The historic measure reversed 75 years of Missouri law forbidding adoptees access to their original birth certificates.
When a person is adopted, a new birth certificate is created with the adoptive parents' names. The original birth certificate with the child's birth name and biological parents' names is sealed by the state and stored in state archives.
"We knew for 75 years they've been deprived of that right to have that birth certificate, and I think that was a violation of their constitutional rights," Phillips explained.
The Missouri lawmaker framed a copy of the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act with a green background and hung it in his office. Phillips is proud that some 5,000 people adopted in Missouri have since completed paperwork to get a copy of their original birth certificate -- giving those adoptees information they need to find their biological parents, siblings and valuable information about their medical history.
Phillips explained that green is the color of adoption and that's why he framed the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act in that color.
"I always said that a professional golfer would probably trade about all of his tournament wins for one green jacket, which comes with winning the Masters. So, being a golfer, I said this is my green jacket," Phillips concluded.