Letter to Indiana Legislators in Support of SB91

By Laura Marie Scoggins

I am writing to encourage your support of Senate Bill 91 which will allow ALL Hoosier Adoptees equal access to their original birth certificates. Pre 1994 adoptees deserve the same access as post 1994 adoptees.

One of the most common questions adoptees are asked when they tell people they are searching for their biological family or have been reunited is “why would you even want to search?”

Imagine what it’s like your entire life every single time you go to the doctor and are asked to fill out a medical history form you can’t. All you can do is write ADOPTED in large letters across the page which is code for being totally and completely clueless about your medical history Then, despite writing adopted across the page you are still badgered with questions once you reach the examination room (first by the nurse then by the doctor). Every single time you visit a physician, dentist, eye doctor, or have any type of medical procedure performed you are reminded that you are adopted and are required to provide an explanation as to why you do not have the normal information that every other human being knows about themselves.

We as a society understand the need for this information and how certain illnesses run in families. This information allows us to take preventative measures both in lifestyle and through advanced screening. This is basic information that adoptees, especially from the closed records Baby Scoop Era, do not have about themselves. We are literally playing Russian Roulette with our health. This doesn’t just affect us but our children and grandchildren as well who are also unable to complete their full family medical history.

The need for family medical history is not the only reason adoptees search, but it is definitely a reason at the top of the list.

Time is also running out for both the adoptee and the birth parents.

Nothing prepares an adoptee for a search leading to a grave.

How do you describe what it’s like to get that phone call saying “we’ve found your mother, but I’m sorry to have to tell you she died of breast cancer back in 1996.”

Later that same year I went to my first doctor appointment after being reunited with my maternal biological family. For the very first time in my life when asked to update my family medical history I finally knew many of the answers. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I finally knew a little bit about who I was. I remember thinking to myself “is this what it feels like to be a normal person?”

As the visit unfolded my doctor suggested that we get a baseline mammogram since my mother died of breast cancer at the young age of 49. I was only 37 at the time and too young to start having mammograms, but because of the family medical history suddenly being screened was very important.

These events resulted in having a mammogram the week before Christmas 2002 (one year after gaining access to my adoption file). When my daughter was in Kindergarten I felt a lump in my breast and ended up having a lumpectomy where they removed the mass. I was a young mom in my 20’s at the time and thankfully it turned out to be benign. Of course I had no idea there was a family medical history of breast cancer with not only my mother but also a great aunt as well as other benign scares in the family.

After my test I was taken into an office where I was told something showed up on my scan and I needed to have a biopsy. I can’t begin to describe what this felt like when I had just discovered in the past year that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42 and died at 49. Every thought imaginable runs through your mind. Thankfully the biopsy came back benign, but the time spent waiting for those results after discovering my mother died of breast cancer at such a young age….indescribable.

Even more scary is the fact that this spot would not have been discovered for at least three more years if I had not found my biological family and gained access to my family medical history. This information was important not only for me but also for my daughter who is now 30 and knows she needs to be screened early. This will also be important for my granddaughter in the future.

Adoption reform and open records legislation is a modern day civil rights issue in our country. Every single state has a group of committed birth mothers and adoptees fighting in the legislatures to reform these laws and allow adoptees access to their genealogy, roots, and medical history. Slowly, more and more adoptive parents are starting to understand the necessity of us knowing our roots as well and are joining the fight. This is a basic human right for every single person. Just imagine literally not knowing anything about yourself!

My search began as a quest for the truth. I simply wanted to know the truth of my origins. Little did I know it would be a search that just might have saved my life!

Being adopted is a lot like being in a witness protection program, except it’s not for our protection. It’s to protect the secrets, lies, and decisions of the adults involved in our adoption. What is the statute of limitations for keeping our true identity behind lock and key? We have the right to know our true identity. It should not take an adoptee a lifetime to search through back doors, post photos on social media holding up signs, and go through the complicated process of DNA testing to obtain this information.

I hope that you will consider the voices of adult adoptees when voting on SB91. It is time to put an end to the archaic adoption system of secrets and lies. You can make that happen!

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About the Author

Laura Marie Scoggins
"I am an adoptee adopted through Catholic Charities in Evansville, Indiana, born in 1965, and placed in my adoptive home when I was twelve days old. In 1999 I began conducting a search for information about my adoption/birth family. After a two year search I finally obtained my birth mother’s identity in December 2001, and I was reunited with her family in January of 2002. My birth mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42 and died at 49 in 1996. My birth father was supposedly killed in Vietnam although I have not yet been able to confirm his identity. On Surviving Adopted I will be posting my adoption search and reunion story as well as writing about life as an adoptee, adoption issues in general, the Baby Scoop Era (telling my mother’s side of the story), and keeping up with current issues of adoption reform and open records." Find Laura here: http://survivingadopted.com/

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