Q&A About CO ACCESS 2014
Q: What is CO ACCESS 2014?
A: Two separate bills with bipartisan sponsorship that were passed unanimously during the 2014 legislative session. The first bill, SB 14-051, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton) is focused on providing access to original birth certificates and adoption records to adult adoptees. The second bill, HB 14-1042, sponsored by Rep. Lori Saine (R-Dacono), will for the first time in Colorado (and perhaps national) history provide a statutory requirement that birth/first parents who voluntarily relinquish(ed) their parental rights have access to the documents they signed. Both bills were amended during the legislative process, but the core purpose and goals of each bill were preserved!
Q: Where can I view the final versions of both measures signed by the Governor?
A: Click on the following links:
Q: When do these measures go into effect and who do I contact to obtain records?
A: There are three key dates involved:
July 1, 2014:
- Certain adoption records (see below for statutory definition) held by a state agency or in the court's possession become directly available to eligible parties (see instructions on Form JDF 494) upon proof of identification and payment of a reasonable fee through the court handling the adoption.
- To request your records from the court, complete the updated version of Form JDF 532. Be sure to read the important instructions on Form JDF 494, available via the same link. The court clerk will verify that you are an eligible party and contact you to let you know that they have located your file and when you can obtain copies of documents. Eligible parties no longer need to demonstrate "good cause" to a judge to obtain adoption records in the court's possession, though adoption records remain sealed from the general public without a court order.
- Court retrieval and copying fees are based on Chief Justice Directive 06-01
- If the court does not have your records, in most cases the court clerk should be able to direct you to the state agency that does hold them, most likely the State Archives, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 120, the Colorado Department of Human Services, or Department of Youth Corrections (see below).
- NOTE: Adult adoptees and other eligible parties should not contact a Licensed Child Placement Agency (LCPA) for copies of records related to SB 51. Because, for purposes of SB 51 only, LCPAs are excluded from the definition of "custodian of records" and records are available through government entities, LCPAs are not required to release adoption records.
. NOTE: These records will reportedly be moved sometime around January 2015 to be consolidated with records housed with CDHS (see next bullet point).
for assistance. This will allow her to determine where your records are and make arrangements to have them copied and ready for you. CDHS has contracted with Adoption Options in the past to provide non-identifying information to those requesting it. Because the new law includes "non-identifying information" in the definition of adoption records, but no longer requires the removal of identifying information (names, addresses, etc.) from social/cultural/medical history), there may need to be a review of internal processes in order to provide copies of records to customers in the most efficient, cost-effective manner. Please be patient and flexible during this transition time.
. Office hours are 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, M-F, excluding holidays. Best times to visit are T, W, Th mornings. HB 1042 grants access to additional relinquishment documents and takes effect 8/7/14. We anticipate new forms from the Courts allowing a birth parent to request copies of records they signed or (in most cases) on which they are named on or near that date. Birth/first parents can also request relinquishment records directly from the adoption agency that handled the relinquishment. More details will be posted here as they become available.
- Deceased Parties. The State Registrar can conduct a search for the death certificate [C.R.S. Section 19-5-305(2)(III)(A) and (B)] of a sought relative and provide the OBC to an eligible party if the sought party is deceased. A death certificate of a sought party, though sad, also grants access to the OBC (directly from the State Registrar) and adoption records by filing Forms JDF 532 and 533 with the court that handled the adoption. This provision may be especially useful for pre-1951 adoptees and adult descendants of adoptees whose birth parents are likely deceased.
- OBCs and records previously available under pre-7/1/14 statute and case law will still be available.
At minimum, eligible parties should receive the following documents from the court or a state agency (though those whose adoptions were finalized between 7/1/67 and 8/31/99 will likely have to wait until 1/1/16 to receive their original birth certificate from the State Registrar. However, if your adoption was finalized prior to 7/1/51, we suggest you request a death certificate search in order to possibly avoid having to wait until 1/1/16 to receive your OBC.). According to C.R.S. 19-1-103, (6.5) (a) "Adoption record," as used in part 3 of article 5 of this title, means the following documents and information:
- The adoptee's original birth certificate and amended birth certificate
- The final decree of adoption;
- Non-identifying information, as defined in section 19-1-103 (80);
- The final order of relinquishment; and
- The order of termination of parental rights.
(b) "Adoption record" shall not include pre-relinquishment counseling records, which records shall remain confidential.
August 7, 2014:
- Birth/first parents (those whose parental rights were not terminated as a result of a Dependency and Neglect action) will have access to copies of documents they signed, including the OBC upon proof of identification, per HB 1042.
- Courts and LCPAs will release copies of these records to birth/firsts parents under this new law.
- We anticipate new forms from the Courts and Vital Records (though Vital Records may decide to continue to use this form) allowing a birth parent to request copies of records they signed on or near that date. Birth/first parents can also request relinquishment records directly from the adoption agency that handled the relinquishment. More details will be posted here as they become available.
January 1, 2016:
- The State Registrar will begin releasing Original Birth Certificates for time periods currently closed (7/1/67 - 8/31/99, and pre-7/1/51) following the "phase out" period for the current, more restrictive version of the Contact Preference Form.
Q: On an after July 1, 2014 how can I obtain my adoption records per SB 51?
A: Courts and state agencies have the right to establish their own procedures for complying with the new law. The language of the new law [Section 19-5-305(2)(b)(I) and (IV)] specifically states that direct access to adoption records is available to eligible parties (an adult adoptee, adoptive parent of a minor adoptee, custodial grandparent of a minor adoptee, or certain other relatives with the notarized written consent of the adult adoptee or if the adult adoptee is deceased) upon request and proof of identification. The court or state agency should not require that you file a Motion or present an Order for good cause to obtain your records, unless you are not an eligible party.
You will be required to provide proof of identification and the court or agency may charge a reasonable fee for locating the records and making copies.
The State Court Administrator's Office has updated Form JDF 532, as discussed above. Depending on whether or not you are an "eligible party", the form is used for direct access to records. If you are not an eligible party, you must demonstrate "good cause" for access to adoption records on Form JDF 532 (item number 4) and must also file Form JDF 533 (the court order). In this situation, the form is treated as a Motion for Good Cause that will be reviewed by a judge or magistrate.
Some state agencies (see above for who to contact) may store the records on site, or, depending on how old the records are, the records may be microfiched and need to be retrieved from another location. Contact the appropriate person noted above for details. These changes to the law can be very emotional for some people, so please remember to be courteous and patient as new processes are implemented and refined.
Q: I want to support the cause by helping or contributing financially! What can I do?
A: We are pleased to announce that we have reached our legislative fundraising goal, but it's not too late to donate to the cause (click on button at top of this page)! Additional funds donated may be designated toward the AIS-CTC Legal Fund to help people who may need financial assistance with a legal matter or third party search, or toward our anticipated blowout victory party. We prefer checks sent to the address below in order to avoid Paypal's fees, but if it's more convenient to do so, click away!
AIS-CTC, P.O. Box 24556, Denver, CO 80224
Now that the bills have been passed by both legislative chambers, you can help by writing to your state representative and senator thanking them for their "AYE" vote.
The mailing address is: (Legislator's Name), Colorado State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax, Denver, CO 80203. BRIEF personal cards or letters are preferred to emails, but in either case, be sure to label your correspondence with " Thank you for supporting SB 14-051" or "HB 14-1042" prominently at the top of the letter or in the subject line of your email.
Q: Are donations considered tax deductible?
BECOME A MEMBER TODAY
Thank you for supporting our cause! There are two ways you can help: (1) Contribute specifically to COAccess 2014 by check designated COAccess 2014 on the memo line, or via the Paypal link above; (2) Become a member of AIS-CTC to help with our ongoing operating costs, including meeting space, this website, our helpline, our quarterly newsletter, our free emotional support group, and ongoing community education efforts. Thank you in advance for your help!
Annual membership includes our quarterly newsletter and helps to provide meeting space, our helpline, website, and community education and advocacy efforts.
Regular membership: $40
Student/Senior (65+): $25
Direct online donations (click on Donate button above) go to our legislative fund. To join or renew your membership, please make checks payable to:
Adoptees in Search
P.O. Box 24556
Denver, CO 80224
Questions? Please contact us at 303/232-6302.