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H.B. 289

             1     

ADOPTION - INVESTIGATION AND

             2     
RELEASE OF INFORMATION

             3     
2008 GENERAL SESSION

             4     
STATE OF UTAH

             5     
Chief Sponsor: Kenneth W. Sumsion

             6     
Senate Sponsor: ____________

             7     
             8      LONG TITLE
             9      General Description:
             10          This bill amends the adoption chapter of the Judicial Code to provide for the
             11      investigation of adoption information by a confidential intermediary and the release of
             12      that information, or the arrangement of contact between an adoptee and a birth parent,
             13      by court order.
             14      Highlighted Provisions:
             15          This bill:
             16          .    defines terms;
             17          .    amends provisions related to the inspection of vital records;
             18          .    establishes a procedure whereby an adult adoptee who is at least 30 years of age
             19      may petition the court for appointment of a confidential intermediary to gather
             20      information regarding, and make confidential contact with, a birth parent of the
             21      adult adoptee, in order to determine whether the birth parent is willing to release
             22      identifying information to, or make contact with, the adult adoptee;
             23          .    describes the contents of a petition for appointment of a confidential intermediary;
             24          .    describes the authority and responsibilities of a confidential intermediary;
             25          .    provides for payment for the services of a confidential intermediary by the
             26      petitioner;
             27          .    grants rulemaking authority to the Judicial Council;


             28          .    describes the circumstances under which a court may release identifying or contact
             29      information to, or allow contact with, a petitioner;
             30          .    makes it a class A misdemeanor to intentionally or knowingly disclose identifying
             31      or contact information obtained by a confidential intermediary under this bill, or
             32      submitted under seal to a court, unless such disclosure is authorized by the
             33      provisions of this bill or by court order; and
             34          .    makes technical changes.
             35      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             36          None
             37      Other Special Clauses:
             38          None
             39      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             40      AMENDS:
             41          26-2-22, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2006, Chapters 55 and 56
             42          78-30-16, as last amended by Laws of Utah 1990, Chapter 65
             43      ENACTS:
             44          78-30-20, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             45          78-30-21, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             46          78-30-22, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             47          78-30-23, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             48          78-30-24, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             49          78-30-25, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             50          78-30-26, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             51          78-30-27, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             52     
             53      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             54          Section 1. Section 26-2-22 is amended to read:
             55           26-2-22. Inspection of vital records.
             56          (1) (a) The vital records shall be open to inspection, but only in compliance with the
             57      provisions of:
             58          (i) this chapter[,];


             59          (ii) Section 78-30-18 ;
             60          (iii) an order issued under Subsection 78-30-21 (2)(a); or
             61          (iv) department rules[, and Section 78-30-18 ].
             62          (b) It is unlawful for any state or local officer or employee to disclose data contained in
             63      vital records contrary to this chapter or department rule.
             64          (c) A custodian of vital records may permit inspection of a vital record or issue a
             65      certified copy of a record or a part of a record when the custodian is satisfied that the applicant
             66      has demonstrated a direct, tangible, and legitimate interest.
             67          (2) A direct, tangible, and legitimate interest in a vital record is present only if:
             68          (a) the request is from the subject, a member of the subject's immediate family, the
             69      guardian of the subject, or a designated legal representative;
             70          (b) the request involves a personal or property right of the subject of the record;
             71          (c) the request is for official purposes of a state, local, or federal governmental agency;
             72          (d) the request is for a statistical or medical research program and prior consent has
             73      been obtained from the state registrar; [or]
             74          (e) the request is a certified copy of an order of a court of record specifying the record
             75      to be examined or copied[.]; or
             76          (f) the request is made pursuant to an order issued under Subsection 78-30-21 (2)(a).
             77          (3) For purposes of Subsection (2):
             78          (a) "immediate family member" means a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or
             79      grandchild;
             80          (b) a designated legal representative means an attorney, physician, funeral service
             81      director, genealogist, or other agent of the subject or the subject's immediate family who has
             82      been delegated the authority to access vital records;
             83          (c) except as provided in Title 78, Chapter 30, Adoption, a parent, or the immediate
             84      family member of a parent, who does not have legal or physical custody of or visitation or
             85      parent-time rights for a child because of the termination of parental rights pursuant to Title 78,
             86      Chapter 3a, Juvenile Court Act of 1996, or by virtue of consenting to or relinquishing a child
             87      for adoption pursuant to Title 78, Chapter 30, Adoption, may not be considered as having a
             88      direct, tangible, and legitimate interest; and
             89          (d) a commercial firm or agency requesting names, addresses, or similar information


             90      may not be considered as having a direct, tangible, and legitimate interest.
             91          (4) Upon payment of a fee established in accordance with Section 63-38-3.2 , the
             92      following records shall be available to the public:
             93          (a) except as provided in Subsection 26-2-10 (4)(b), a birth record, excluding
             94      confidential information collected for medical and health use, if 100 years or more have passed
             95      since the date of birth;
             96          (b) a death record if 50 years or more have passed since the date of death; and
             97          (c) a vital record not subject to Subsection (4)(a) or (b) if 75 years or more have passed
             98      since the date of the event upon which the record is based.
             99          Section 2. Section 78-30-16 is amended to read:
             100           78-30-16. Definitions -- Applications.
             101          (1) As used in this section and Sections 78-30-17 through [ 78-30-19 ] 78-30-27 :
             102          (a) "Adoptee" means a person who has been legally adopted.
             103          (b) "Adoption" means the judicial act which creates the relationship of parent and child
             104      where it did not previously exist and which permanently deprives a birth parent of his parental
             105      rights.
             106          (c) "Adult adoptee" means an adoptee who is 21 years of age or older.
             107          (d) "Adult sibling" means a brother or sister of the adoptee, who is 21 years of age or
             108      older and whose birth mother or father is the same as that of the adoptee.
             109          (e) "Birth parent" means a biological mother, a person whose paternity of a child is
             110      established, or, an alleged father, who has been identified as the father of a child by the child's
             111      birth mother, and who has not denied paternity.
             112          (f) "Bureau" means the Bureau of Vital Statistics within the Department of Health
             113      operating under Title 26, Chapter 2.
             114          (g) "Genetic and social history" means a comprehensive report, when obtainable, on an
             115      adoptee's birth parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, which contains the following
             116      information:
             117          (i) medical history;
             118          (ii) health status;
             119          (iii) cause of and age at death;
             120          (iv) height, weight, eye, and hair color;


             121          (v) ethnic origins;
             122          (vi) where appropriate, levels of education and professional achievement; and
             123          (vii) religion, if any.
             124          (h) "Health history" means a comprehensive report of the adoptee's health status at the
             125      time of placement for adoption, and his medical history, including neonatal, psychological,
             126      physiological, and medical care history.
             127          (i) "Identifying information" means the name and address of a birth parent or adult
             128      adoptee, or other specific information which by itself or in reasonable conjunction with other
             129      information may be used to identify that person.
             130          (2) Sections 78-30-17 through [ 78-30-19 ] 78-30-27 do not apply to adoptions by a
             131      stepparent whose spouse is the adoptee's birth parent.
             132          (3) Sections 78-30-17 through [ 78-30-19 ] 78-30-27 apply only to adoptions of
             133      adoptees born in, or adopted in, this state.
             134          Section 3. Section 78-30-20 is enacted to read:
             135          78-30-20. Petition for appointment of a confidential intermediary.
             136          (1) An adult adoptee who is at least 30 years of age may petition the district court for
             137      appointment of a confidential intermediary for the purpose of contacting a birth parent of the
             138      adult adoptee to determine whether the birth parent desires to disclose identifying information
             139      to the adult adoptee or to allow contact by the adult adoptee.
             140          (2) The petition described in Subsection (1) shall include:
             141          (a) identifying information of the adult adoptee, including the adult adoptee's name,
             142      gender, date of birth, address, and telephone number;
             143          (b) any information known by the adult adoptee about the birth parent of the adult
             144      adoptee, including the birth parent's age or approximate age, if known;
             145          (c) a statement that the adult adoptee is currently registered under the mutual consent
             146      registry described in Section 78-30-18 ;
             147          (d) any other information known by the adult adoptee that may assist a confidential
             148      intermediary in identifying and contacting a birth parent; and
             149          (e) a statement that the adult adoptee agrees to pay the reasonable expenses and
             150      reasonable fees of the confidential intermediary.
             151          Section 4. Section 78-30-21 is enacted to read:


             152          78-30-21. Appointment of a confidential intermediary.
             153          (1) Upon the filing of a petition described in Section 78-30-20 , the court shall appoint a
             154      confidential intermediary to identify and contact a birth parent of the petitioner, unless the
             155      court finds good cause for not appointing a confidential intermediary.
             156          (2) If the court appoints a confidential intermediary under Subsection (1), the court:
             157          (a) shall provide the confidential intermediary with an order of appointment that
             158      includes:
             159          (i) the name of the confidential intermediary;
             160          (ii) a statement indicating that the confidential intermediary is authorized to obtain
             161      identifying or contact information of the petitioner and the birth parents of the petitioner,
             162      including vital records and adoption records, in order to assist the confidential intermediary to
             163      identify, locate, and contact a birth parent of the petitioner;
             164          (iii) the date that the order is entered; and
             165          (iv) the date on which the order expires;
             166          (b) shall order that the petitioner is responsible to pay the reasonable expenses and
             167      reasonable fees of the confidential intermediary to identify, locate, and make or arrange contact
             168      with a birth parent of the petitioner;
             169          (c) shall specify a maximum amount of expenses and fees, chargeable to the petitioner,
             170      that the confidential intermediary may incur without obtaining permission from the petitioner
             171      and the court to exceed this amount;
             172          (d) may require that the petitioner make an initial payment, or periodic payments, of a
             173      specified amount, to the confidential intermediary; and
             174          (e) shall order that any court documents that may assist the confidential intermediary to
             175      identify or contact a birth parent of the petitioner be released to the confidential intermediary.
             176          Section 5. Section 78-30-22 is enacted to read:
             177          78-30-22. Qualifications of a confidential intermediary -- Priority to select a
             178      confidential intermediary.
             179          (1) The Judicial Council may, by rule, establish the qualifications for a person that may
             180      be appointed as a confidential intermediary.
             181          (2) If the adoption agency or attorney who arranged or facilitated an adoption is known
             182      by the court, or may be easily discovered by the court, the court shall appoint a qualified


             183      person, designated by the adoption agency or the attorney, as the confidential intermediary,
             184      unless the adoption agency or attorney fails to select a qualified confidential intermediary
             185      within five days, excluding weekends and holidays, after the day on which the adoption agency
             186      or attorney is contacted regarding the opportunity to select a confidential intermediary.
             187          (3) If, after appointment of a confidential intermediary other than a confidential
             188      intermediary described in Subsection (2), the confidential intermediary discovers the identity of
             189      the agency or attorney who arranged or facilitated an adoption:
             190          (a) the confidential intermediary shall:
             191          (i) notify the court of the discovered information within three days, excluding
             192      weekends and holidays, of the day on which the information is discovered; and
             193          (ii) refrain from contacting a birth parent of the petitioner, until further order of the
             194      court; and
             195          (b) the court shall appoint a qualified person, designated by the adoption agency or
             196      attorney who arranged or facilitated the adoption, as the confidential intermediary, unless the
             197      adoption agency or attorney fails to select a confidential intermediary within five days,
             198      excluding weekends and holidays, after the day on which the adoption agency or attorney is
             199      contacted regarding the opportunity to select a confidential intermediary.
             200          Section 6. Section 78-30-23 is enacted to read:
             201          78-30-23. Duties of a confidential intermediary.
             202          (1) A confidential intermediary appointed by the court:
             203          (a) shall make a diligent effort to identify, locate, and contact a birth parent of the
             204      petitioner; and
             205          (b) shall make a diligent search of adoption records and other records related to the
             206      petitioner or the birth parents of the petitioner, in order to identify, locate, and contact a birth
             207      parent of the petitioner.
             208          (2) If the confidential intermediary locates a birth parent of the petitioner, the
             209      confidential intermediary:
             210          (a) shall contact the birth parent in a discreet and confidential manner to:
             211          (i) inform the birth parent that a biological child of the birth parent has filed a petition
             212      under Section 78-30-20 ; and
             213          (ii) inquire whether the birth parent desires to disclose identifying information to the


             214      petitioner or allow contact with the petitioner; and
             215          (b) may not inform the birth parent of the petitioner of any identifying information of
             216      the petitioner, unless the petitioner requests, in writing, that specific identifying information be
             217      disclosed by the confidential intermediary to the birth parent of the petitioner.
             218          (3) If a birth parent contacted by a confidential intermediary under Subsection (2)(a)
             219      indicates that the birth parent desires to disclose identifying information to the petitioner, or to
             220      allow contact with the petitioner, the confidential intermediary:
             221          (a) shall obtain written consent from the birth parent to:
             222          (i) release identifying information to the petitioner that specifies the information to be
             223      released; or
             224          (ii) arrange for the petitioner to make contact with the birth parent in a manner
             225      specified by the birth parent;
             226          (b) shall provide the identifying information, or the contact information, under seal, to
             227      the court;
             228          (c) shall inform the petitioner that the birth parent has agreed to provide identifying
             229      information to, or to allow contact with, the petitioner; and
             230          (d) may not release the identifying information or contact information to the petitioner,
             231      or any other person, or arrange contact between the petitioner and the birth parent, without a
             232      court order authorizing such action.
             233          (4) If a birth parent contacted by a confidential intermediary under Subsection (2)(a)
             234      fails or refuses to disclose identifying information to the petitioner, or to allow contact with the
             235      petitioner, the confidential intermediary:
             236          (a) shall inform the birth parent of the procedures for registering with the mutual
             237      consent, voluntary adoption registry under Section 78-30-18 ;
             238          (b) shall ask the birth parent if the birth parent is willing to be contacted by a
             239      confidential intermediary at a later time to determine whether the birth parent will agree to
             240      disclosure of identifying information to, or to arrange contact with, the petitioner at that time;
             241          (c) if the birth parent agrees, under Subsection (4)(b), to be contacted at a later time,
             242      obtain written consent from the birth parent that specifies the date in the future after which a
             243      confidential intermediary may contact the birth parent;
             244          (d) shall provide, under seal, to the court:


             245          (i) the information gathered by the confidential intermediary;
             246          (ii) a written statement that the birth parent failed or refused to disclose identifying
             247      information to, or allow contact with, the petitioner; and
             248          (iii) (A) the written consent, described in Subsection (4)(c); or
             249          (B) a written statement that the birth parent failed to, or refused to, consent to be
             250      contacted at a later time;
             251          (e) may not inform the petitioner, or any other person other than the court, of the birth
             252      parent's identifying information or contact information;
             253          (f) may not attempt to arrange contact between the petitioner and the birth parent; and
             254          (g) shall, within 24 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, of the time that the
             255      petition is dismissed by the court, destroy copies of all identifying or contact information
             256      relating to the birth parent, that are in the possession or control of the confidential intermediary.
             257          (5) If the confidential intermediary is unable to identify or contact a birth parent of the
             258      petitioner within one year after the day on which the court appoints the confidential
             259      intermediary, the confidential intermediary shall provide a written report to the court that
             260      includes:
             261          (a) the information gathered by the confidential intermediary, under seal;
             262          (b) without disclosing identifying information or contact information of a birth parent,
             263      the efforts made by the confidential intermediary to identify or contact the birth parent; and
             264          (c) without disclosing identifying information or contact information of a birth parent,
             265      the opinion of the confidential intermediary regarding other actions that could be taken to
             266      identify or contact the birth parent, the likelihood of success of those actions, the approximate
             267      cost of taking those actions, and the additional time needed to take those actions.
             268          (6) If the confidential intermediary discovers that a birth parent of the petitioner is
             269      deceased, the confidential intermediary shall inform the court of this fact, in writing and under
             270      seal.
             271          Section 7. Section 78-30-24 is enacted to read:
             272          78-30-24. Itemization and payment of expenses and fees.
             273          (1) (a) A confidential intermediary shall, on a monthly basis, submit to the petitioner
             274      and the court, an itemization of expenses incurred, and fees charged, by the confidential
             275      intermediary.


             276          (b) The itemization described in Subsection (1)(a) may not include any information
             277      that would disclose to the petitioner, or lead to unauthorized discovery by the petitioner, of the
             278      identity or contact information of a birth parent of the petitioner.
             279          (2) The petitioner is required to pay the reasonable expenses and reasonable fees
             280      charged by the confidential intermediary within 30 days after the day that the itemization is
             281      mailed or otherwise delivered to the petitioner, unless the court orders otherwise.
             282          (3) If a petitioner fails to pay the reasonable expenses and reasonable fees of a
             283      confidential intermediary, the court may:
             284          (a) order the confidential intermediary to cease efforts to gather information on the
             285      petitioner's behalf;
             286          (b) order the petitioner to pay the reasonable expenses and reasonable fees of the
             287      confidential intermediary;
             288          (c) refuse to authorize the release of identifying or contact information obtained by the
             289      confidential intermediary until the reasonable expenses and reasonable fees of the confidential
             290      intermediary are paid in full;
             291          (d) dismiss the petition filed under Section 78-30-20 ; or
             292          (e) enter any other lawful order determined to be appropriate by the court.
             293          (4) A confidential intermediary may not continue to incur expenses or fees that are:
             294          (a) chargeable to the petitioner after the one-year period described in Subsection
             295      78-30-23 (5), without first receiving permission from the petitioner and the court; or
             296          (b) in excess of the maximum amount specified by the court under Subsection
             297      78-30-21 (2)(c), without first receiving permission from the petitioner and the court.
             298          Section 8. Section 78-30-25 is enacted to read:
             299          78-30-25. Court proceedings.
             300          (1) The court may hold review hearings to discuss the progress of the confidential
             301      intermediary and to determine whether the petitioner desires the confidential intermediary to
             302      continue the search for information.
             303          (2) The court may dismiss a petition filed under Section 78-30-20 :
             304          (a) at the request of the petitioner; or
             305          (b) if the court determines that:
             306          (i) (A) after making a diligent effort, the confidential intermediary has not succeeded in


             307      obtaining the information sought by the petition; and
             308          (B) it is unlikely that the confidential intermediary will be able to obtain the
             309      information sought by the petition;
             310          (ii) the petitioner is less than 30 years of age;
             311          (iii) except as provided in Subsection (6), the petition seeks the identifying or contact
             312      information of a birth parent who has already been contacted by a confidential intermediary on
             313      behalf of the petitioner, in a previous proceeding initiated under Section 78-30-21 , unless:
             314          (A) it is likely that the birth parent is deceased; or
             315          (B) (I) the birth parent agreed, under Subsection 78-30-23 (4)(c), to be contacted at a
             316      later time; and
             317          (II) the time specified by the birth parent, under Subsection 78-30-23 (4)(c), is after the
             318      day on which the petition is dismissed;
             319          (iv) the court is prohibited from releasing the identifying information of a birth parent
             320      under Subsection (5); or
             321          (v) the person is prohibited from filing the petition under Section 78-30-26 .
             322          (3) Except as provided in Subsection (5) or 78-30-24 (3)(c), the court shall disclose to
             323      the petitioner the identifying information, or allow contact in the manner specified by the birth
             324      parent of the petitioner, if:
             325          (a) the birth parent:
             326          (i) is currently living; and
             327          (ii) has provided written consent to:
             328          (A) disclose the information to the petitioner; or
             329          (B) allow contact with the petitioner;
             330          (b) both birth parents of the petitioner are deceased; or
             331          (c) one birth parent of the petitioner is deceased and, after a diligent search by the
             332      confidential intermediary, the other birth parent:
             333          (i) cannot be identified; or
             334          (ii) is identified and consents to disclosure of the deceased birth parent's information to
             335      the petitioner.
             336          (4) If a birth parent of the petitioner fails or refuses to consent to disclosure of
             337      identifying information to the petitioner, or to contact with the petitioner, the court shall:


             338          (a) if the birth parent provides written consent to be contacted by a confidential
             339      intermediary in the future:
             340          (i) inform the petitioner of the date after which the birth parent has agreed to be
             341      contacted; and
             342          (ii) dismiss the petition; or
             343          (b) if the birth parent of the petitioner fails or refuses to provide written consent to be
             344      contacted by a confidential intermediary in the future, dismiss the petition.
             345          (5) The court may not disclose identifying information or contact information to a
             346      petitioner, or allow contact to be arranged between the petitioner and a birth parent of the
             347      petitioner, if the petitioner has a sibling who:
             348          (a) is a biological child of the same birth parent;
             349          (b) is under the age of 21 years; and
             350          (c) was raised, or is being raised, in the same family setting as the petitioner.
             351          (6) A petition dismissed under Subsection (2) may be refiled if a birth parent who
             352      refused to consent to disclosure of information, or to allow contact, contacts a confidential
             353      intermediary and informs the confidential intermediary that the birth parent now desires to
             354      disclose identifying information to, or allow contact with, the petitioner.
             355          Section 9. Section 78-30-26 is enacted to read:
             356          78-30-26. Filing a subsequent petition.
             357          (1) No person may file a subsequent petition to seek identifying or contact information
             358      of a birth parent who failed or refused to disclose identifying information to the petitioner, or
             359      allow contact with the petitioner, under Section 78-30-23 , unless:
             360          (a) (i) the birth parent who failed or refused to disclose the information, or allow
             361      contact, consents, under Subsection 78-30-25 (4)(a), to be contacted in the future; and
             362          (ii) the petition is filed on or after the date specified in the consent described in
             363      Subsection 78-30-25 (4)(a);
             364          (b) (i) it is likely that the birth parent who failed or refused to disclose the information,
             365      or to allow contact, is deceased; and
             366          (ii) the subsequent petition is filed at least five years after the day on which the last
             367      petition, seeking identifying or contact information of the birth parent described in
             368      Subsection(1)(b)(i), was dismissed; or


             369          (c) the birth parent consents, under Subsection 78-30-25 (6), to disclose identifying
             370      information to, or allow contact by, the petitioner.
             371          (2) (a) Except as provided in Subsection (2)(b), a person may not file a subsequent
             372      petition to seek identifying or contact information of a birth parent who was the subject of a
             373      previous petition filed by the petitioner, unless the subsequent petition is filed at least five
             374      years after the day on which the previous petition was dismissed.
             375          (b) A court, for good cause, may shorten or extend the five year period described in
             376      Subsection (2)(a).
             377          Section 10. Section 78-30-27 is enacted to read:
             378          78-30-27. Penalty for unlawful disclosure.
             379          A person or confidential intermediary who intentionally or knowingly discloses
             380      identifying or contact information obtained by a confidential intermediary, or submitted under
             381      seal to a court, under Sections 78-30-20 through 78-30-26 , is guilty of a class A misdemeanor,
             382      unless the disclosure is made in a manner that is permitted under Section 78-30-20 through
             383      78-30-26 or as otherwise permitted by law or pursuant to a court order.




Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-14-08 10:09 AM


Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel


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