Talking About Adoptee Rights To Legislators or Anyone Else Part IV

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My Cliff Notes of What I Say  by Request Part IV

ARC adoptee rights booth louisville kyI talked about not so much what I say, but how I say it in part I and in part two, we framed out all the reasons why Adoptee Rights legislation makes sense. Part Three covered the  arguments of the supposed ” birthmother confidentiality“.

So now, there are some final facts and bits  that I have collected that can be sprinkled about. By no means have I come up with all these myself. Just like anyone else, I learn form others in the adoption community and those who have gone on before me! I like to add good bits here, so if you have a good argument or another thought not covered, please share!

A study of American adolescents found that 72 percent of adopted adolescents wanted to know why they were adopted, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents, and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)

The psychological literature has established that the desire of 60 to 90 percent of adoptees wanting to obtain identifying information regarding their biological parents is a normative aspect of being adopted. (American Adoption Congress, 1996)

The idea that adoptees do not know their mothers’ names and that unsealing birth records “makes names known” frames private domestic infant adoption as though it is representative of adoption as a whole.  Half of all adoptees were adopted by step-parents or relatives and they get their OBC sealed as well.  Can you imagine if a father was to die and later the mother was to remarry. Now say the new step father is to desire to adopt the children for the legality or insurance purposes. Now imagine those poor children finding out that their beloved, departed father is erased form their history because of these archaic laws? That’s awful.

Adoption Legislation does not force an adoptee to obtain their original birth certificate.  It simply restores the civil right to adopted people so that, if they wish to, they can access their birth certificate the same as all other people.

The original birth certificate is a piece to the puzzle of the adoptee’s identity.  It in no way diminishes the loyalty and love adopted people feel toward their adoptive parents and families.  Rather, it allows them to develop a deeper relationship with their adoptive families by having a more complete and healthy image of themselves.  Studies have shown that not only adoptive parents support OBC access and equal treatment of their children, but search and reunion often brings adoptive families closer together.

If a birthparent is so very concerned about their right to privacy, then they have the right to legally change THEIR name. After all, isn’t that much more fair for the adult who had all the choice to make the concession, Why should the adoptee who had NO choice in how they were born or what they were born into have to suffer the consequences?

Birth parents should not be notified if the records are accessed/requested.  We should consider how this is handled with all others who access their records.  Do we have a process in place that notifies the parent if a non-adopted adult accesses their birth certificate? Does your mother get asked if you want a copy of your birth certificate?

When a state specifically protects a mother from possible contact by providing a mechanism for her to deny contact, then how shall that be enforced? Say a mother says “no contact” and that adoptee sends her a letter or something anyway?  Not only  has the state now criminalized the adoptee sending her a card or flowers, but doesn’t that open the state up to a liability for failing to “protect” her? Are we going to arrest adoptees and can a mother sue the state for her emotional distress upon receiving mother’s day flowers from her child when she informed the state that she didn’t want flowers? Can’t she be treated like everyone else and just throw out the flowers?

A mother has no constitutional right to be anonymous to her children. It is neither right nor feasible to require birth parent permission  for an adult adoptee to obtain the original record of his/her birth. Do we live in a society where we want to give one party the ability to control another party?

The birth certificate is an important legal form of identity needed at various times.  The amended birth certificate cannot be used for Acceptance into Native American tribes and lineage societies, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the Confederacy.

Adoptees are the only group of U.S. citizens denied access to their OBC (besides those in the witness protection program).

Adoptee rights legation is supported by Concerned United Birth Parents, the American Adoption Congress, Bastard Nation, The Adoptee Rights Coalition, ALMA, ALARM, Holt International, The National Association of Social Workers of Pennsylvania, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Surgeon General, The North American Council of Adoptable Children, The Child Welfare League of America (over 800 member agencies), Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, The National Adoption Center, Spence-Chapin, and several major religious groups such as the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of America.

Records were originally sealed in as early as the 1940’s in some states to protect the adoptee from the bastard label and in some states to hide the possible of illegal adoptions such as the influence of Georgia Tann who was very politically connected.

A person’s right to their identity which is considered a  right of all children according to the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child particularly articles 7 to 10. Along with Somalia and South Sudan (the most recent independent country), the United States is one of only three countries in the world which have not ratified the Convention.

A government has no business legislating with whom adults can or cannot have a relationship. That would be like having a law saying that you and I cannot speak because I was born in April and you in May and they are worried that our zodiac sings might clash.

The archaic policy of sealing birth certificates perpetuates outdated perceptions that adoption is a shameful practice.  We are allowing our governments to send the message that there is something wrong with being adopted, yet the same governments are often funded to be promoting adoption.  We want children out of foster care. We offer federal tax credits to families that adopt. And then we treat adoptees like uncivilized stalkers that cannot be allowed their documentation because they might get their mother’s names?    Exclusively sealing the birth records of adopted people and making them hard to access sends the message to adoptees, and to society, that there is something wrong with being adopted.

Adoptee rights legislation is is fiscally responsible.  Time that previously went into protecting and updating registries and separating paperwork will be eliminated, reducing costs.  Courts will be able to focus on their regular duties rather than taking time to deal with petitions from adoptees.

Some states have adoption code with a provision for the restoration of an adoptee’s original birth certificate in the case of the annulment of his/her adoption.  Notice that no contact is made with the birthmother for her permission to reinstate the birth certificate that has her identifying information on it.  If a mother’s permission isn’t required for the release of her child’s authentic birth certificate under those circumstances, why should her child be denied a copy at age of majority?

We need to stop infantilizing adoptees over the age of 18.  We should restore to adoptees the rights that all other adults in this state take for granted.  Society has changed, and it is time for the laws to change accordingly.  When the purpose of a law ceases to exist, so should the law.

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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

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