New law gives hundreds of adopted Missourians access to birth certificates, answers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thousands of adopted Missourians now have access to information that’s been hidden for decades.

That's thanks to a new law that kicked in Jan. 1, which lets anyone 18 or older get an original birth certificate, and for metro families like the Belcourts, it's will help fill in some missing gaps.

Mary Belcourt and her husband are adoring parents to their daughter, Wendy.

“We’ve loved Wendy from the moment we met her and will love her forever,” Mary Belcourt said.

The Belcourts struggled to get pregnant for years and suffered several miscarriages. When Wendy came along, it was simply meant to be.

But there has always been a missing link.

“I would’ve done anything to support her," Mary Belcourt said. "That’s what I did as a mother all her life to protect her. I just didn’t know what she needed."

Wendy Belcourt always knew she was adopted. Like a lot of other kids, she wanted to know more about where she came from.

“I think for me, I just didn’t feel complete and you know, there was never anybody I could mirror or relate to growing up as far as looks or even people to talk with about talents they get from grandma. It was just a big gap,” Wendy Belcourt said.

With persistence and her adoptive mom’s full supportive, Wendy started researching her history. The desire to find out more about her family only got stronger when she got pregnant with her daughter in 1996.

“I had zero family health history, which at that point, I already had some health issues going on," Wendy Belcourt said. "So it just became really important to find information."

But she ran into a bunch of road blocks. It wasn’t until 2001 that she could finally access her adoption agency’s records. That led to the devastating discovery that her birth mom had died.

“I was so upset because I thought that was just a dead end,” Wendy Belcourt said.

But incredibly, her birth father opened a door she feared was shut.

“Not only did he agree to contact with himself, but agreed to get me in touch with my biological mother’s family," Wendy Belcourt said. "So it was pretty amazing. We met 16 people in one day. It was pretty overwhelming, but very positive."

She keeps in touch with her birth dad, aunts, uncles, cousins and six siblings. But until now, another key piece of her story has been missing: her birth certificate.

“It’s ridiculous that this was kept from everybody,” Wendy Belcourt said.

Thanks to a new Missouri law that took effect Jan. 1, those over 18 who have been adopted can now request their official birth certificate. When Wendy got hers, it unlocked new information about when she was born and where.

“Each piece she learns gives her a little more of that filling that hole was in her heart,” Mary Belcourt said.

The journey has brought the entire family, bound by blood and adoption, even closer.

“To be able to share and open up and heal, it’s incredible,” Wendy Belcourt said.

Birth parents who don’t want to reconnect with biological children can request to have their names sealed by the state. But since the law was passed two years ago, very few requests to do so have been submitted.

Since the law took effect this month, more than 1,000 adoptees have requested their original birth certificates.

The application to request a birth certificate can be found here.