Missouri adoptees could access birth certificates under proposed bill

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JEFFERSON CITY – A Missouri House committee met Tuesday afternoon to discuss a bill that would allow Missouri-born children to access their original birth certificate.

Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, sponsored the bill that would allow 18-year-olds to access their birth certificate. 

Birth certificates are crucial in obtaining family health records which adoptee Danika Donatti, 18, said will help her learn about her father’s illnesses.

“I really wanted to meet my father because I knew he was really sick, and being able to meet him was great and positive thing, and I still have that positive relationship with my mother,” Donatti said.

She said she was able to meet her father before he passed away from lung cancer and a genetic spinal disease. Donatti said having health records is so important for adoptees.

Her adoptive mother, Debora Donatti, said she has two other adopted children and having their original birth certificates is very important.

“I think from the very first time my husband and I decided to adopt, and Danika is our oldest child, that I knew that I couldn’t really move forward unless I was comfortable knowing who that person was and that they would know who and where their child would be,” Donatti said. “I wouldn’t want to do that if I was placing the child, and so taking that into consideration is when my husband and I decided during that window of time, before the adoption was finalized, to get the original birth certificate for each of our children.”

Debora Donatti said she hopes that adoptees don’t have to wonder who they are and where they came from, no matter their age.

“We hope someday that records will be open to everyone, but we also didn’t want them to go through that additional stress of not knowing the information, not having it, not being able to make those contacts,” she said.

Those in opposition say it’s important to protect the parents who do not want any contact with their child after they put them up for adoption.

Carolyn Pooler, 72, is still on the search for her birth certificate.

“My original birth certificate is my chapter one,” Pooler said. “You don’t start a book at chapter two. I would like to have that piece of paper I have a right to.”

Danika Donatti said her father “had the biggest smile on his face and every time I went to see him he had that same smile and that’s something I definitely won’t forget because it was always such a good time to be able to see him and he was always super happy. And so was I.”