A controversial bill to ease the secrecy of adoption records in the District of Columbia survived a best vote in the CIty Council yesterday after a member made an emotional plea to continue protecting the identities of natural parents.
After rejecting a move to table, or kill, the bill, the council agreed to its preliminary passage, 7 to 2. Final action is scheduled for Nov. 27.
"The (council's judiciary) committee report will show that at the public hearing there was no opposition (to the bill)," Willie J. Hardy (D-Ward 7) declared, urging that the bill be rejected.
"Did we expect to hear, in public, from a group of people who had given up their babies for adoption, with the full knowledge . . . that they would be protected from discovery . . . forevermore?" she asked.
The measure, introduced a year ago by Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large), would permit adults who had been reared by adoptive parents to apply for the right to open now-sealed birth certificates in order to trace their natural parents.
Several states, including Virginia, have passed laws granting limited access to such birth records.
Witnesses at the D.C. hearing last July supported the adoption of a local law. A similar bill was defeated earlier this year in a Maryland Senate committee.
Supporters of the maesure said they wanted th right to trace generalogical roots, and to obtain sometimes-vital health information.
The test vote on the measure came on a motion by Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) to table the bill, and thus effectively kill it. Joining her were Hardy, Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and Wilhelmina J. Rolark (D-Ward 1), the judiciary committee chairman; Arrington Dixon (D-Ward 4), Jerry A. Moore Jr. (R-At Large), Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 4), John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2) and Mason. Other members were absent.
As amended, at Tucker's urging, the measure would raise the age for applying to open a birth record from the originally proposed 18 to 21, and would require consent from one or both of the natural parents and likewise of the adoptive parents.
Only Winter and Hardy voted against approving the bill.
On another matter, the council - in its first overtly political vote since the recent elections - rejected nominations by outgoing Mayor Walter E. Washington for five nominees to the University of the District of Columbia board of trustees and one nominee to the Redevelopment Land Agency board of directors.
Winter> who urged rejection, said Mayor-elect Marion Barry should make the nominations after he takes office in January.
The UDC nominees were Kenneth Crosby, Thomas W.D. Wright, Nira Hardon Long, Elba Martinez and Ronald Brown, the current UDC board chairman. The RLA nominee was Alfred H. Liu.
The council also advanced a bill to restrict building renovations and demolitions in officially designated historic neighborhoods, but delayed final action until Nov. 27.