After 41 years apart, a Washington mother and daughter were reunited earlier this month as a result of a change in adoption law that recently went into effect. The new law (SHB1525) changed the requirements for adoptees, 18 years or older, making it easier for them to obtain original birth certificates.

Debra Powers and Christin Hollcroft were separated through a forced adoption when Hollcroft was a baby, reports KHQQ6 television news. Mother and daughter never forgot one another. Hollcroft had tried searching for her birth mother several times over the years but she never had access to her original birth certificate, which listed her mother's name. Despite living near one another and attending the same schools as her maternal relatives, Debra was at a dead end until this past July 1 when the new law opened the door for her and millions just like her to get to the truth of their own past.

"It's been like a rollercoaster. It's like I have moments where I'm just like 'is this really real?' I kept saying to my husband on the drive over here, I was like, 'this is happening, this is really happening.' The thing that I daydreamed about my entire life is now. It's happening," Hollcroft. told KHQQ6

Washington's new law states that all adoptees over 18 can request their original, pre-adoption birth certificate, which previously had been accessible only to individuals adopted after 1993. Adoptees must complete a request form and mail it to the Washington State Department of Health. As long as the birth parents have not specifically asked to remain anonymous, adoptees can now access their birth parents' information. In an effort to ensure confidentiality, the state asked birth parents to complete contact preference and medical history forms by July 28 of last year. It took a year to process that information but, as a result, adoptees are also able to access important family-related health information without the need to contact their birth parents.  

The American Adoption Congress (ACC), an adoption advocacy group, would like to see these gains go even further by allowing adoptees unrestricted access to all birth documents. So far only Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon and Tennessee grant adoptees easy access to important birth records. The group is currently working to get such legislation passed on a national level.  

If they succeed, Powers and Hollcroft's story may be one of many among newly connected families.

Washington State officials anticipate a high volume of requests for several months to come.