Did you know that there is one class of citizens that, by virtue of the circumstances of birth, do not have the same rights as others? And that over 90% of all American adoptees will face a life of discrimination unless current laws are changed? If you are (or hope to be) an adoptive parent this issue may very well affect you and those you love.
In all but 6 states*, adult adoptees are not able to have access to their own original birth certificates. Some of the remaining 44 states do allow access, but require high fees and/or intermediaries who can grant permission — or not give permission. Peach calls this “state-sanctioned identity theft.”
Non-adopted people do not face the same hurdles.
The Adoptee Rights Coalition is working to change laws in these discriminatory states. Why am I telling you this? Do I expect you to march in Chicago next week at the annual demonstration (which coincides with the National Conference of State Legislators)? To take up the cause, to make signs and to write letters to legislators in your state house and at the federal level?
Well, all that would be nice.
But I’m just asking you to educate yourselves on the issue. Start with Claudia’s post. Then get motivated to share your particular talent or resources to help end this discriminatory practice.
Why do I fight for adoptee rights?
- Because Tessa and Reed deserve the same unfettered access to their personal records that I have to mine.
- Because records aren’t sealed at the time of relinquishment, as you would expect if the laws were put in place to protect birth parent privacy. Records are sealed at the other legal end of the adoption process, the time of finalization, which serves to protect those who already have power and have less need of protection — the agencies and the adoptive parents. You might ask why would an agency need protection, and I would urge you to read this post (excerpted):
The inventor of sealed birth certificates, Georgia Tann, was the first adoption facilitator to convince the vital statistics office of her state to seal the records of her adoptions. It’s no wonder why she wanted this; all 5000 of her adoptions were illegal.
- Because open means open. Open contact, open hearts, open records. Anything hidden breeds secrecy and shame and rot in the soul. Anything in the light will better serve my children, other adopted people, and society at large.
* Although Rhode Island recently changed its law, I am not including it on the open side of the scale. RI now allows access to non-certified copies of records to only those aged 25 and older. Actual records that can be used for proof of identity or citizenship remain sealed.
Why do you fight for adoptee rights?