A First-Person Account Of LAAB's Work To Get HB 450 Passed
By Jeanette Livingston, LAAB Chair
On March 15, 2022, LAAB members Linda Woods, Karen Babin and I arrived at the Capital to support HB 450, to give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates. Rep. Charles Owen presented this bill. As representatives discussed the bill, it was apparent to us that they needed to hear from birth moms.
Adoptee Elise Lewis and Adoptive parent Tyler Koch gave testimony. At the end of the session, Rep. Owen decided to wait another week before asking for a vote.
As birthmothers, Karen and I decided to give our testimony at the next committee meeting. It was exciting and scary! After the committee members heard the pros and cons, they voted in favor of HB 450. We were so excited, looking forward to next step, which was a vote on the House floor. But before that there was lobbying to do. Over several days, Elise, Tyler and I talked to every one of the legislators we could reach to convince themto support HB 450.
On March 25, 2022, LAAB members Karen, Linda Easterlin, Linda Woods, Della Pressler and were back at the Capital. The bill was read and discussed on the House floor. Rep. Owen asked that the legislators pray over it on the weekend and then vote on Monday. After Reps. Owen, Amedee and Seabough gave moving speeches, it passed 76-21. We were so thrilled and excited. There was a lot of hugging and high-fives afterwards.
The next step was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary A committee. On May 24, LAAB members and others arrived at the Capital. This group included adoptive parents Cary and Tyler Koch, adoption community leaders Elise Lewis and Kenny Tucker as well as honorary LAAB members and friends Janice Allen, Kent Gonsoulin and Pam Testore. The meeting started around 10 am, and it took several hours before we were able to testify. After hearing the opposition and much discussion, the committee passed in favor of HB 450 4-2.
So now we are off to the Senate chambers. This phase started on May 31 right after Memorial Day. The anticipation was contagious.
In the audience were Elise, Tyler and Cary Koch (adoptive parents), Pam Testoret (birthmom) and I. It started at 1 pm, but our bill was not on the list.
On Wednesday June 1, 2022, Linda Woods, Della Pressler and I arrived at the capital at 11 am with great expectations. Our bill was read but passed over due to opposition.
Friday June 3, 2022, was the big day. Between 4 and 4:30 pm, Sen. Ward took the floor to explain the bill to senators. Other senators presented amendments, and each time they were shot down. As this was going on it was so quiet on the Senate floor you could hear a pin drop. Every senator was watching and listening. I was so impressed!
Finally, they voted and it passed with 25 yeas and 6 nays.