Releasing pre-adoption birth records: The impact of Oregon's experience on its vital records department

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.


Objective. In November 1998, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 58, which allowed Oregon adoptees ≥21 years of age access to their original birth records, which are sealed at adoption. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of the measure on the Oregon Health Division (since renamed Oregon Health Services) by assessing procedures used and resources needed after implementation of Measure 58. Methods. Vital records employees were interviewed about processing, storage, and archive retrieval procedures for pre-adoption birth records before, during, and after the implementation of Measure 58 and the effect on their usual workload. Personnel time, space, and fiscal resources used to process requests for pre-adoption records were also calculated. Results. The Oregon Health Division began to receive requests from adoptees immediately following the passage of Measure 58 in November 1998, but due to legal challenges, they could not be processed until May 31, 2000. From June 2, 2000, through October 20, 2000, 12 staff members and two supervisors issued more than 4,700 pre-adoption birth records while also processing their normal workload, which averages more than 135,400 vital record orders annually. Due to the need for retrieval from archives, requests for pre-adoption birth records were estimated to take 75 hours to process vs. 2-3 minutes for standard requests. Each batch of approximately 75 pre-adoption birth records required approximately 12.5 person-hours from vital records staff and 3-4 person-hours from archive personnel; in addition, supervisors spent time responding to incomplete orders, informing the public and the media, and responding to concerns of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Fewer than 1 % of requests went unfilled. Conclusions. Implementation of Measure 58 utilized substantial resources of the Oregon Health Division. States contemplating similar legislation should consider increasing personnel and resources, preparing for intense public and media interest, and reorganizing the storage of adoptees'original birth records so they are easily retrieved.




Barfield, W. D., Rhodes, J. C., Kohn, M. A., Hedberg, K., & Schoendorf, K. C. (2002). Releasing pre-adoption birth records: The impact of Oregon’s experience on its vital records department. Public Health Reports, 117(5), 472–478.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free