Ohio Opens Sealed Adoption Records

when 1964-1996 Ohio adoptees can first apply for their vital statistics records

By Laura Marie Scoggins

Today is Independence Day for Ohio adoptees. Today is the day that 400,000 Ohio adoptees from the closed records adoption era are finally allowed legal access to their original birth certificate. Records for adoptions before 1964 and after September 1996 were not sealed, but for those of us adopted during the years in between our records were. Today we finally have access to those records.

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1965 but adopted in Evansville, Indiana. Catholic Charities in Evansville, Indiana sent my mother to St. Joseph Infant and Maternity Home in Cincinnati, Ohio where I was born. Twelve days after my birth I was adopted by a family in Evansville. My birth certificate was altered to say that I was born in Indiana.

Today is supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life. I am supposed to be in Columbus, Ohio today. I scheduled time off from work months ago. My daughter went to great lengths to rearrange her busy schedule, take off work, and make plans for her six year old to stay home with daddy for a few days. I made hotel reservations to stay at the Drury Inn where Adoption Network Cleveland reserved a block of rooms and will be hosting opening day events. I was so excited at the thought of being there in person and expressing my civil right, to march to the vital statistics office with fellow adoptees, to be part of history, to meet Adoptionland in person, to be an in real life flesh and blood adoption activist and not just an online voice. I planned to blog and tweet and facebook every single thing about this day. My daughter who is a photography buff was bringing all of her equipment to record every moment possible. I planned to wear my t-shirt and walk with them this morning to stand in line to file for my OBC, a piece of my identity that has been behind lock and key for almost 50 years.

So what happened? I’m not sure I can even find the words to describe what happened.

Somewhere along the way in the weeks leading up to today the balloon got a hole in it and slowly the air began to leak out. Reality began to set in. Reality smacking me in the face might be a better description. A dark cloud began to envelop me. A thick heavy blanket of depression like I had never felt began to suffocate me. I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t wanted to be around people. All I’ve wanted to do is sit on the couch in my living room with my warm fuzzy blanket, watching a Gilmore Girls marathon on Netflix and eat Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. All I’ve wanted to do is check out from reality.

Why?

Because I am thirteen years post reunion and my reunion led to my mother’s grave. Nothing is going to change that.

Because my reunion revealed that she was given a fake name, an alias, to use while in the maternity home.

Because my reunion revealed that her alias was used on all of the Court documents, and she was even forced to sign the consent for adoption with her alias name. A signature that was notarized by a social worker at Catholic Charities (the agency that handled my adoption).

Because my search and reunion revealed a trail of lies, deceit and unethical practices that thirteen years later I still have trouble wrapping my mind around.

Because I had never heard of the Baby Scoop Era until post reunion. Since my mom wasn’t here to tell me her story of all she experienced and events surrounding my birth, I began researching this era and reading the stories of women like her and discovered the truth of how society and the church treated women like my mother and the utter hell they were put through.

Because I thought my search would answer all of my questions only to discover every answered question created ten more unanswered questions.

Because I thought my search and reunion would finally bring closure to the issue of adoption in my life. Instead I discovered that in reality it never ends and once a person is adopted they are adopted for life.

Because I thought finding out the truth surrounding my adoption would help me find my identity. Instead the reunion left me with a feeling of not fitting either place, in my adopted world or the world of my birth family.

Because I know from my search that the Ohio Birth Index doesn’t list my mother’s real name. It lists her alias name and although she named me Laura Marie, I was given her alias last name. I was given a fake identity.

Because I know that I would be standing in line to gain access to a fake falsified document, and the reality of that hit me square in the face leading up to opening day. The reality of the lies and deceit that surrounded my birth and my existence are enough to bring anyone to their knees. How do you put into words what it feels like that people went to such lengths to erase your true identity?

Because I wonder how many other Ohio adoptees are like me. They are so excited by this long awaited day, and it is awesome that Ohio has finally acknowledged our civil right to know the truth about our history and identity. Every adoptee nationwide should have legal access. But I know I can’t possibly be the only one with falsified records. Will they be given enough information to be able to determine if an alias name was used? I searched for two years with a fake name. The knowledge of this absolutely breaks my heart.

Because while I absolutely still plan to file for my OBC online the question remains…now what? Now what do I do with my fake falisified birth certificate? How do I even go about getting it corrected?

Because it’s still not over. Indiana is still a closed state although hopefully their open records legislation will pass this month. My adoption was across state lines so I have records both places. The complexity of the whole thing gives me a headache.

Because I thought I was totally out of the fog but realized I wasn’t. Now I am, and the reality hitting me has been like a stomach punch that has brought me to my knees. It’s left me gasping for air.

So instead of being in Columbus today I am sitting at home in my pj’s hiding from the world and trying to forget about Adoptionland and the reality of my life for at least eight hours.

I’m sick and tired of adoption defining my life and my identity. I’m tired of the way it continues to affect my life. I’m tired of the way society reacts to those of us who speak out about the truth of adoption….a truth they don’t want to hear.

Tomorrow it’s back to reality. I’m resilient, a fighter, a survivor and an overcomer. I’m turning 50 this year. I’m trying to figure out how to move forward with the rest of my life without the ever present black cloud of adoption hanging over me.

The fight continues. As much as I want to close up this blog and forget about adoption it’s a reality of my life that I can’t run from no matter how much I try. So I’ll hide today and OD on Ben and Jerry’s, but tomorrow I’ll get back up again. I’ll continue to blog about all the things I have to say about adoption and do my best to raise awareness in society. Not because I want to but because I don’t have a choice.

Because it matters.

Because it’s time for change.

Because it’s time for every adoptee to have full access to their adoption records and their identity, roots, history, and medical information.

Because our biological parents are now elderly in many cases and time is short. No adoptee should have to end up kneeling on a grave like I did.

Because those of us who have gone before have a responsibility to make a difference for a younger generation of adoptees.

Request forms are available online starting today. The forms may be submitted only via postal mail or in person due to the notarized documentation required. It could take up to six weeks for the request to be processed.

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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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