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This is the petition I filed with the Johnson County (Iowa) District Court, Probate Division on February 29, 2000.  Also included on this page are my amended petition and request for judicial notice, both filed in the Johnson County District Court on March 22, 2000.

IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR JOHNSON COUNTY

 

STEVEN J. DRAHOZAL,

          Petitioner.       

                        PETITION TO UNSEAL     

                        RECORDS PERTAINING TO HIS

                        ADOPTION

 

 

 

 

COMES NOW Steven J. Drahozal, pro se, and in support of his petition to unseal court records pertaining to his adoption states:

 

1.     I am Steven John Drahozal (SSN ###-##-####), an adult adoptee and currently reside at [adress deleted].

2.     I was born at the University of Iowa Hospitals, Iowa City, Iowa on June 27, 1971 at 12:49 A.M. and was placed in the custody of J. E. and S. F. Drahozal of Solon, Iowa on July 2, 1971.

3.     The Iowa District Court for Johnson County finalized the adoption process in August of 1972, with J. E. and S. F. Drahozal becoming my adoptive parents.   The private agency responsible for this adoption was Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

4.     The only knowledge I have of my biological parents are that my biological mother was born in 1953, was 5’8” tall, weighing 170 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes and her father had diabetes and she had completed the eleventh grade with plans to complete her high school education at the time of my birth.  My biological father was also approximately 18 years old at the time of my birth was 5’9” tall, weighing 160 lbs. with brown hair and blue eyes.

5.     I have no biological siblings adopted by my adoptive parents. Iowa Code Ann. 600.16A(3)(b) (West 1998).

6.     I am an adult and now ask the court to open the record, giving me access to identifying information. Iowa Code Ann. 600.16A(2)(b) (West 1998). Simultaneous to the filing of this petition, I am filing an affidavit consenting to the release of my identifying information to any biological relative seeking that information. Iowa Code Ann. 600.16A(3)(b) (West 1998).  I have previously filed such an affidavit with the agency responsible for the adoption.

7.     Good cause exists for opening the record in that, to my knowledge no affidavit has been filed by either of my biological parents requesting that such information not be disclosed to me. Iowa Code Ann. 600.16A(2)(b)(1) (West 1998).  Because I am an adult, the burden should shift to my biological parents or the state showing why they do not want identifying information disclosed.  (See Mills v. Atlantic City Dept. of Vital Statistics, 148 N.J. Super. 302, 318, 372 A.2d 646, 654 (1977).)  Although my biological parents may not have filed an affidavit allowing me access to the records, the Iowa statute stating that they must be told they can do so was not passed until 1992, twenty-one years after my birth and twenty years after the adoption was finalized.  (See Iowa Code Ann. 600.16A (West 1998).)

8.     Good cause also exists in that denying me access to the record violates my constitutional right to privacy with regard to making certain kinds of important decisions, this one related to reproduction. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S.Ct. 705 (1973), McMasters v. Iowa Board of Medical Examiners, 509 N.W.2d 754 (Iowa 1993).

9.     Good cause for opening the record also exists in that denying me, as an adoptee, access to, inter alia, my original birth certificate when non-adopted persons have full access to their own original birth certificates abridges my right to equal protection.  U.S. Const. amend. XIV, 1, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686 (1954), Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 S.Ct. 612 (1976), Iowa Const. art. I, 6, State v. Ceaser, 585 N.W.2d 192 (Iowa 1998).  Adoptees bear the indicia of a suspect class in that they are a “discrete and insular minority.” United States v. Carolene Products, 304 U.S. 144, 152, 58 S.Ct. 778, 783, n. 4 (1938).  Suspect classes are composed of those who have an “immutable characteristic determined solely by an accident of birth.” Frontiero v. Richardson, 417 U.S. 677, 685-687, 93 S.Ct. 1764, 1770 (1973).  This description applies to adoptees.

10.          Good cause for opening the record exists in the fact that I have a natural curiosity about my roots and heritage.  This curiosity can best be sated by contact with biological relatives. Matter of Guardianship of Nemer, 419 N.W.2d 582, 585 (Iowa 1988).  This natural curiosity is a normal and natural part of maturing and is an essential part of identity formation.  Sealed records are detrimental to identity formation. Katarina Wegar, Adoption, Identity and Kinship: The Debate over Sealed Birth Records, 79 (1997).  See Also Arthur D. Sorosky, et al., The Adoption Triangle: Sealed or Opened Records: How They Affect Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive PArents, 219 (1989).

11.          Good cause for opening the record exists because I have a psychological curiosity about my biological family. Application of Anonymous, 399 N.Y.S.2d 857, 859 (1977), In re C.A.B., 384 A.2d 679 (D.C. 1978).  This psychological curiosity coupled with the frustration of being unable to obtain identifying information has resulted in difficulty sleeping and concentrating.  Opening the record would alleviate this.

12.           Good cause for opening the record exists in that courts in other jurisdictions have consistently held that biological parents do not have a constitutional right not to have identifying information disclosed. Does 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 v. State, 164 Or. App. 543 (1999), Doe v. Sundquist, 106 F.3d 702, 704 (6th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 810, 118 S. Ct. 51 (1997).

13.           The provisions of the Iowa code dealing with adoption are to be construed liberally with the best interest of the adoptee in mind.  Ia. Code Ann. 600.1 (West 1998).  As the adoptee and as an adult, I have determined that it is in my best interest to have an exchange of identifying information between myself and my biological relatives.  The court, per the Iowa code, should construe “good cause” liberally and grant this petition.

     WHEREFORE, Steven J. Drahozal respectfully requests the Court open records pertaining to his adoption.

 

                    __________________________________

                   Steven J. Drahozal

                   [adress and phone number deleted]

 

IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR JOHNSON COUNTY

 

IN THE MATTER OF              NO. COCO00017

STEVEN J. DRAHOZAL     

 

STEVEN J. DRAHOZAL,           AMENDED PETITION

          Petitioner.       

                       

 

 


COMES NOW Steven J. Drahozal, pro se, and amends his petition to unseal court records pertaining to his adoption as follows:

1.     The petitioner wishes to amend 10 of his original petition to add: See also generally: Betty Jean Lifton, Journey of the Adopted Self: A quest for Wholeness (1994), David M. Brodzinsky, et al. Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (1992).

1.  The petitioner wishes to amend his original petition to add 14 to read as follows:  Good cause for opening the record exists in that denying me access to the record of my adoption abridges my right to free speech guaranteed by U.S. Const. amend. I, Iowa Const. art. I 7, specifically the right to “receive, the right to read…and freedom of inquiry.” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 482, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 1689 (1965).  The state may not contract the body of available information without showing a compelling interest. Id.  Because there is no compelling state interest in keeping information from me, failure to open is unconstitutional.  Also implicit in freedom of speech is the right to form the “self” and choose what information one wishes to be exposed to for one’s self.  See Steven J. Heyman, Righting the Balance: An Inquiry Into the Foundations and Limits of Freedom of Expression, 78 B.U. L. Rev. 1275, 1238 (1998).

 WHEREFORE, Steven J. Drahozal respectfully requests the Court consider the above amendments to his original petition.

 

                   __________________________________

                   Steven J. Drahozal

                 [address and phone number deleted]

IN THE IOWA DISTRICT COURT FOR JOHNSON COUNTY

 

IN THE MATTER OF              NO. COCO00017

STEVEN J. DRAHOZAL     

 

 

STEVEN J. DRAHOZAL,           REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL

          Petitioner.        NOTICE OF ADJUDICATIVE 

                             FACTS

 

 

 


COMES NOW Steven J. Drahozal, pro se, and pursuant to Iowa R. Evid. 201(b),(c), (d), (f)asks the court to take judicial notice of the following adjudicative facts:

1.  Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and adoption counselor who has written numerous books on the psychology of adoption, including Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience (1979) and Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness (1994).   Her work has been cited by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in The Matter of the Adoption of Charles E.D.M., II, 708 A.2d 88,93(Pa. 1998).  Dr. Lifton does not live in Iowa and the petitioner is unable to procure her attendance by process.   Iowa R. Evid. 804(a)(5).  The petitioner requests that the court take judicial notice of her expertise in the area of psychological development of adoptees and allow him to read statements from her writings that are relevant to the psychological development of adoptees into evidence under Iowa R. Evid. 804(b)(5).

2.  David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and is also in private practice.  He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and books on adoption and developmental psychology, including The Psychology of Adoption (1990) and Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self (1992).  He has been recognized as an expert in these fields by the New York Court of Appeals in Allen v. Farrow, 611 N.Y.S.2d 859, 863, 197 A.D.2d 327, 333 (1994).  Dr. Brodzinsky does not live in Iowa and the petitioner is unable to procure his attendance by process.  Iowa R. Evid. 804(a)(5).  The petitioner requests that the court take judicial notice of Dr. Brodzinksy’s expertise in the area of developmental psychology related to adoptees and allow him to read statements from Dr. Brodzinsky’s writings that are relevant to the psychological development of adoptees into evidence under Iowa R. Evid. 804(b)(5).

 WHEREFORE, Steven J. Drahozal respectfully requests the Court take judicial notice of the above stated facts.

 

 

                   __________________________________

                   Steven J. Drahozal

                 [address and phone number deleted]

  

Why Iowa Needs Adoption Reform Legal Information
Open Records Myths My Petition to Unseal My Records
My Story The National Council for Adoption on Open Records
Adoption Resources Online Valuable Books
Journal and Scholarly Articles About Me
History of Sealed Records Right Not Reunion