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New State Law to Allow Easier Access to Adoptee's Birth Records


A new law makes it easier for older adoptees born in Washington state to track down their birth parents.

While the law won’t go into effect until July, the state is trying to get the word out now about the changes.

Brian McNuelty, 59, lives in Texas, but was born in Washington state.

“I was with a real good family and taught me to respect people. As far back as I can remember, they always told me I was adopted,” McNuelty said.

People born after Oct. 1, 1993 in Washington can get their birth certificates directly from the state’s Department of Health. But for adoptees like McNuelty who were born before this cutoff date, getting a hold of an original birth certificate involves hiring someone to navigate the courts, which could cost several hundred dollars.

Starting July 1, 2014, these older adoptees will be given the same access to their records as their younger counterparts.

Debbie Marker with the Department of Social and Health Services says the law requires birth parents to fill out new paperwork.

“Yes, you can release all my information. No, I don’t want them to know my name, but they can get all of the medical history with specifics, or I don’t want any contact at all and I don’t want the birth certificate released.”

The state wants birth parents to know they can fill this paperwork online now, and should make a point to do so if they don’t want any information released.

McNuelty got lucky. He found his birth mother’s name in some papers after his adopted parents died. A few weeks, ago he tracked her down over the phone and found out they have a lot in common. She had her appendix out when she was 14. He had his out when he was 15. They both love NASCAR and enjoy the same beverage.

“I asked her what she likes to drink and she said, ‘Rum and coke,’” he said. “That’s what I like to drink whenever I drink. It’s kind of weird.”

This past weekend, McNuelty met his birth mother for the first time in person in Mount Vernon. He hopes to track down his birth sister next.