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State says processing of adoption records delayed, may now take more than five months

Adoptees waiting to get unsealed records
Posted at 5:11 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 17:11:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — People waiting for unsealed adoption records may have to wait even longer as the state tries to process thousands of requests from adoptees, Call 6 Investigates has learned.

A new law went into effect July 1 that effectively unsealed 37,000 adoption records from 1941 to 1993.

RELATEDIndiana to unseal adoption records from 1941 to 1993

In July, the Indiana State Department of Health said on its website it would take 12 to 16 weeks to process.

However, the state agency says adoptees should now expect 20 to 22 weeks which is 1 to 2 months longer than anticipated.

"We understand that this information is very important to those who are seeking it, so we are making every effort to process the requests as quickly as possible and are continually looking at ways to decrease the processing time, including hiring additional staff," Megan Wade-Taxter, a spokeswoman with ISDH, said.  

Wade-Taxter said before the new law took effect and ISDH began receiving much larger numbers of requests, the state already had a number of requests in line to be processed.

The state has received 3,236 requests for adoption records since June 1, and they are being processed in the order they are received.

Since July 1, the state has completed 743 requests.

"We want to assure adoptees that we will get their requests completed but ask for their patience as we process the 1,500 requests that arrived in just a two-week period, as well as those that continue to arrive daily," she said.

Wade-Taxter said each record requires several days to complete because the verification process is very detailed and involves searching through paper files as well as microfiche.

Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney started looking into how the state is processing adoption records requests after hearing about concerns from adoptees.

READ MORE | Adoptees concerned about state resources devoted to processing adoption records requests

David Harris of Indianapolis was adopted in 1969, when he was six months old. He submitted his forms in mid-June and received his adoption records 20 weeks later.

"It was a couple of weeks longer than promised, but at least I did get them," he said. "It has been quite the discovery process since getting the records."

Harris said he’s learned that he has five half-brothers and three half-sisters that’s he’s working on connecting with.

The Indiana Adoptee Network is aware of the delays at ISDH.

"I know they are trying, but it’s not helping the adoptees," Pam Kroskie, president of the Indiana Adoptee Network, said. "Not acceptable! I wish they had more help."

Kroskie said the Indiana Adoptee Network is planning a conference in April to help people get their records or guide them through the process. 


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