Why I fight for adoptee rights

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?


16 thoughts on “Why I fight for adoptee rights”

  1. Thank you for this post and for educating me. I didn’t realize that there were laws in place keeping adoptees from their birth certificates. This sounds absurd to me, especially since you mention the timing of it at finalization rather than at relinquishment.

  2. I first heard about this when you wrote about the issue in the past. And it’s mind-blowing! I can’t imagine not having that legal right. It’s such a simple right, the claim to your identity. I’m off to read your links!

  3. This angers me sooo much! This also reminds me that I need to obtain a copy of our son’s original birth certificate that his birth mom has. I keep forgetting to do it, but when I think about it, I panic and think about how desperately I want that for my son.

  4. What timing considering my post yesterday. Guess we had the same thing on our hearts at the same time. 🙂 I fight for open records because my dad should be able to access his birth family. I fight for open records because, like you said, there’s no reason that adoptees can’t have access to the same documents that non-adoptees do. Period. And….the brilliant point you made about being open is a large part of why I fight. People can’t be truly open if there are hidden documents or anything else. Grrrrrrrr….

    1. I am a mother of a 38 yr old still in the archives in the Florida agency ,he,s grown with kids yet he,s not allowed to see me ,I don,t know if he,s alive ,got med history I sent social worker as she claims he was found-then she started lying,she said he was a lawyer,I asked her how she knew since she complained his secrtarys gave her fake email,she said he was a lawyer from sounds in his office,she wasn,t allowed to reveal herself? /The Childrens Home Society waits until the real mother dies-Time is not on my side or his if he doesn,t get his papers we all have,I never agreed to give him or grandchildren,all I had was a temporary crisis of a poverty matter when x abandoned and took all savings,CHS ,didn,t help me they hurt me for life and messed up who,d he be regardless of occupation that no social worker tells anyone but his adoptive parents if alive -he is in the ARCHIVES with all his information and mine seadled up,no one is forcing him to see me thats up to him,I am fighting for his freedom to his birth certificate,this adoption I found out later was an industry of selling babies,they just keep covering up secrets,I want to donate to the adoptionrightcoalition .com but can,t find where and adress to donate to,they need funds for booths for the demonstrations ,money is all non profit,I need to try,my sons life is involved in this.

      1. Hi, Hazel. I am so sorry for what you’ve been through.

        There is a Donate button on the left side of this site: https://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/

        Or you can go directly to this very long link: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=_BHTV-W88NJZBuIAC0WByN7ADb3ybsHmsnH-0JUZCYjwk4nFLn9UFTCpRfm&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8d7283e7f0184a5674430f290db9e9c846

        I do hope that whether or not records are opened soon in the state where your son was placed that you two find your way to each other.

  5. Great post! I believe all people should have the same access (and rights) to their records…no matter what happened after their birth. Thank you for educating us on such important issues…and continuing the fight.

  6. I agree. It’s ridiculous that records are sealed, and that birth certificates are changed. I mean, why change a birth certificate? Why not just amend it, to include both birth parents and adoptive parents? I don’t think our adoption agency liked it when I referred to Baby X’s new birth certificate as “the fake one”. Yeah, too bad, because it’s true, and occasionally, my filter turns off. 🙂

    As an aside: When I ordered Baby X’s birth certificate, I checked the “per adoption” box. The birth certificate showed up without that statement.

  7. A birth certificate should be exactly what it claims to be: a factual record of a birth. Period. Adoptive parents should NOT be listed since they simply are not part of the facts of the birth. In my mind, my amended birth certificate is an ownership document.

    My amended birth certificate looks like a 3rd grader made it. Three different typewriters were used since different parts of it were filled in at different times. Attendant at birth, which should be the doctor’s signature, was signed by amom. What woman in modern America delivers her own child? Previous births to mother, which should say zero, says two…my two abros, who were also adopted. The filing date is almost a year after my birth which caused some trouble when I was trying to get my first passport at age 16.

    One lie always begets another. Since my bparents told everyone that I died at birth as a cover story for relinquishing me, years later when they had another child, to the question of previous births to mother…I am numbered there as “now dead.” Bsibling never noticed that until I pointed it out.

    I was able to get a “certified” copy of my original birth certificate. But, it has a special notation on it that although it is a “true” copy, it is not valid for identification purposes…or some such wording making it look as if it is yet another fake.

    The truth is the truth…pretending that something is truth does not make it so.

  8. This is truly astounding. What good could secrecy possibly do? “Protect” birth parents? From what?

    Thanks for posting this, Lori … and for doing the advocacy work that gives people a fundamental human right; to know where they came from.

  9. Wow- I had no idea this was happening… your posts are so educational for me to understand the issues that face adopted children and their parents as well.

  10. plz read this this was spouse to be an open adoption. I am the birth mother and haven’t seen my baby sense the couple took him home.will they also lie to him about his birth.The lawyer called me the other day and says we can fight it cause i revoked my consent to adopt and they went ahead with the adoption but he wants 3,000 dollars plz pray that we will will find a way to fight for our son so hes not told lies.The couple even knew and met us and they seemed great but the min they had our baby they said they tell him they gave birth to him if anyone can give me advice plz email me [email protected]

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