Adoptee Rights

Adoptee Rights Coalition

Why Should We Care About the Fight to Open Adoption Records?

Adoptee Rights & Access to their Original Birth Certificates

In the US, 48 states continue the practice of sealing adopted children’s original birth certificates (the OBC) upon finalization of the adoption. In all but 4 of those 42 states, adult adoptees do not have unrestricted access to their OBC like all other people do at the age of 18.

Right now, only Alaska, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Alabama  allow unrestricted equal access to all adoptees over the age of 18.  In Rhode Island, they have restored access to all adoptees over the age of 25. Washington State,  Illinois, and Ohio now have had successful legislation introduced that does allow many adoptees to access their OBC’s, BUT it is not EQUAL access as they still have birth parent vetos’ in the laws ( in Ohio it;s a one yer window in tie where the birth parents can have their names removed, but medical information still goes through) and that gives one party the ability to control another party.  New Jersey, Colorado and Connecticut have also recently changed their laws. Unless the adoptee’s birthparents had the knowledge that they could apply for the OBC before the adoption records were sealed, then that adoptee might never see the record of their birth and even then, the ADOPTEE as an ADULT Citizen of the US is NOT treated the same as other US citizens in regard to their legal documentation.

This is one of the many areas of adoption legislation where the states have power over making the laws. Alaska and Kansas never sealed theirs at all, but the other 48 did, some as early as the 1930’s and some not until the 70’s. Some sealed records laws, such as NY, can trace their roots back to the corrupt practices of Georgia Tann and other unscrupulous lobby groups who must have been hiding something.

Now, we all know that a birth certificate is a very important legal form of identity needed at various times throughout one’s life for many reasons such as getting a driver’s license or a passport or getting married and the states, in their supreme wisdom, do issue adopted children another birth certificate for them to use. This is called the amended birth certificate of the ABC. On it, depending on what your states artistic license, the adoptive parents are frequently listed as giving birth to the child in the city of which they live, but which the child was not born in. It works for getting into school and getting married. It might or might not work if the government ever goes for that whole ID law since they frequently look different than the standard OBC, but as a parent it will serve you well.

Adoptees are can be denied:

Adoptees are the only group of US citizens denied access to their OBC( besides those in the witness protection program). It truly is a form of discrimination as the adoptee has no way of choosing the circumstances of their birth, relinquishment and adoption, but the circumstances of their birth is held against them long into adulthood.

Why Should Adult Adoptees Get Their OBCs?

All these facts are true.

Why OBC Access for Adoptees is Scary to Some:

  • Birthmothers were promised confidentiality and they can’t break those promises even if they are only implied
  • If adoption was not confidential, then the abortion rates would rise
  • If adoptions were not confidential then adoption rates would fall.
  • Mothers who relinquish their children to adoption do not want to know their grown children.
  • If we open records then adoptees might force themselves on their poor unsuspecting mothers and ruined their lives.

All these points, despite being promoted by the National Council for Adoption, many agencies, many churches and religious organizations and right to life groups, are false.

Mothers who relinquished could not have been promised anything of the sort by the state governments because there was no confidentiality to give. Let us remember that the OBC is a matter of public records until the adoption is finalized. That can take months and until that time, the birth certificate clearing stating who gave birth to whom is sitting at a country clerk’s office. Look who can get access for instance just in Georgia. What do you think would happen if the child never was adopted? The record would continue to be open forever. Now mind you the birthparents have no rights after signing the relinquishment papers, so they can’t force the child to be adopted nor seal the record. No confidentiality. Period.

Plus if there ever was one shred of paper claiming a birthmother anonymity, then the NCFA would have it plated in gold like the Holy Grail. They have not because it does not exist. Many mothers have gotten their records from agencies to check and no written promise has ever been found There is even a study on that that shows this is FACT.

In Kansas and Alaska where the OBC was never sealed, abortion rates were lower than neighboring states. In states that opened up the OBC’s, the abortion rates sub-sequentially dropped.

On the same note, the same states have higher adoption rates when there is open records and no secrecy. In fact, the some of the openness in adoption can be traced back to a study done by the NCFA and the Family Research Council called The Missing Piece where they studied the feelings of mothers who relinquished (while blindfolded) and learned that women would be more open to adoption as a choice for an unplanned pregnancy if they could know where their child is and how they are fairing. The findings of that study were turned into the federally funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program. Kind of odd that the same information they use to create more adoptions is also use to keep records sealed.

In other countries and in the US where we can see historically the rates of the contact vetoes issued by birthparents, across the board less than 1 to 4 % of relinquishing mothers employ the contact veto. The simple fact is that it is less than 2% of all relinquishing mothers desire to never set eyes on their children again. The contact veto allows a birthmother to say that she refuses contact. In fact, in New Zealand, after 20 years of open records, they decided to forgo the veto clause since the numbers were so low. The great majority of mothers desire to know what happened to their babies and, in fact, had never forgotten them at all.

Adoptees don’t always want full on relationships with their birthparents, but even if they do and even if their birthparents don’t, we have other laws in this country that are set to keep unwanted people in our lives. Stalking, harassment and privacy laws come to mind.

The discussion can go on and on, but this is the ONE area where universally adoptees, adoptive parents and birthparents, all agree:

Adult Adoptees over the age of 18 should have the unilateral right to access their original Birth Certificates because it is their truth, their history and their lives.

What they do with that information, as adults, is their business as adults to make adult decisions based on what they personally need.

Bastard Nation, CARE, The Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute, the American Adoption Congress, Concerned United Birthparents and Adoptee Rights, plus many more groups, support adoptee access to the OBC as well.

To support adoptees access to the document of their legal birth you can:

It is the government sentencing of legal discrimination against adopted people.

And every one of us who have a smallest role in this adoption picture should be screaming for justice.

I, as a parent of an adopted person, can and I do. This is why my vacation time at work gets used every year when I go to the Adoptee Rights Protest.

Please Support Adoptee Rights OBC Access legislation that is being proposed in 2015. 

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New York’s Adoptee Rights Amended Bill Disaster TAKE TWO

When you tell man who wrote a bill that he doesn’t know how to write a bill, you issue a challenge. When you insult him and he obviously picked up on that, he comes back at you with the bill he wrote to prove the point. And so, due to that meeting held by UI, our formally beautiful CLEAN NY OBC Adoptee rights bill with a lovely and simple contact preference, has been amended to a version of the 2104 disaster. This is what happens when you throw down the gauntlet. So yeah, the HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD BILL has come back. A2901 is now A2901A read more…

Opposition to Adoptee Rights in Missouri

Missouri Adoptee Rights Legisaltion and OBC access

Help Missouri Adoptees

It is URGENT that Adoptee Rights supporters come out in full force Monday March 16th. This is the hearing for the agency bill HB1112, and we need to show strong opposition. We need to gather anyone who can be there IN PERSON to support HB647. They don’t all have to speak, and they can be friends, neighbors, co-workers whoever can fill seats on our behalf. read more…

Four Birthmothers – for Mothers

jean strauss film 4 birthmothers

I feel blessed and honored to have been included in the filming of this piece.
The last day of the AAC Conference in San Francisco last year, I heard Jean wanted to film some birthmothers and I volunteered. So we sat in a room and talked about our experiences relinquishing our children to adoption.
Then Jean Strauss worked her magic and this is the end result read more…

Sexism within the OBC Adoption Records Issue

When a man fathers a child and chooses, for whatever reason, to ignore the existence of that child, do we respect his wishes overall and grant him his right to his anonymity? No.. so why do mothers receive this “protection” ? Why are we ONLY concerned with the mothers? If this fear was legitimate, then wouldn’t it be fair and expected to extend that concerned to the father’s as well? Should not all people be protected, then, from long lost relatives that might infringe upon their lives and seek out relationships with them? read more…

Adoptee Rights Bills to Support in 2015

A new year is here and with that it is time to roll out the Adoptee Rights Bills to Support in 2015. Just like the 2014 and 2013 lists, this will be a living list where things like bill numbers do get updated. However, for the most recent activity on any one state’s pending legislation and needed support, please refer to the websites and Facebook pages. If you know of additional states where legislation is pending this year, please do let me know. read more…

Indiana Adoptee Rights; is 2015 the Year of Change?

Hoosiers for Equal Access to Records

For the last four years, we have tried to get a bill passed in the Indiana State Legislature that would equalize adoption law for all adoptees. Year after year, powerful interests in the adoption law community have ensured that it never got out of committee. This time, it’s going to be different. read more…

Flipping Learning- Shut Your Pie Hole

When Adoptees #FliptheScript

Yeah it might be hard sometimes.. for all the parents involved.. adoptive and birth parents…but the role I have taken for #FliptheScript is to just Re-post, re-tweet, re-share, but not redirect. I always remember, it’s not about me. It’s about the adoptee as it always should be. I’m just a parent doing the best I can to support the rights of my child…even though the voices of others. read more…

BAD BILL!! Louisiana Adoptee Rights Bill HB No. 1028; It’s Got to GO!

Kill Louisiana Adoptee Rights Bill HB No. 921

According to my source, Senator Daniel Martiny, who is a FRIEND of adoption and actually understands this issue, has said that if he gets calls, letters, and such OPPOSING bill #1028, then he will NOT pursue it for the Senate. So we need to contact Sen. Martiny TODAY and stop this bill. read more…

Using Social Media in AdoptionLand to Keep on Christie and New Jersey Pressure

whats the hold up gov Christie?

By working together and supporting each other, we can conceivable CONTROL the information found on line about adoption. Here’s my best and easiest social media tricks and tips that we need to use NOW to get the NJ birthright bill passed! read more…

World Premier of “A Simple Piece of Paper” at Cleveland International Film Festival


Documentary film maker Jean A.S. Strauss will be in Cleveland for the viewing of her new film “A Simple Piece of Paper”. Adoption Network Cleveland is proud to be the Community Partner for the world premiere of this film. Jean follows 18 citizens as they receive their original birth certificates following a change in Illinois law. In 2015, Ohio Adoptees will be able to do the same. read more…

Debunking OBC Access Myths and Fears; Abortion Rates Will Go Up

abortion rates in the USA to 2008

Have the abortion rates in those states gone up since OBC access was restored which would indicate that women fear this lack of mythological privacy in adoption? If a women knows that someday her relinquished child will be an adult and could access his or her original birth certificate with her name on it, will she abort the pregnancy rather than give birth? Abortions rates say NO! Adoptee Equality Proves to be NO Threat to Unborn Babies! read more…

US Adoptees Have Trouble Getting Passports Due to Sealed Records Law

US adoptees cannot get passports due to sealed birth certificate laws

Why should any adopted citizen have to fight the conflicting regulations put forth by their own government? All because some people are afraid of what adopted adults might do if they know the names of the person who gave birth to them? They might get passports and go on vacation. read more…