Adopted children grow up. As adults, as US citizens, they should have the (basic, human, civil) right to access their Original Birth Certificate.
Access is a matter of state law. In only 6 states do adoptees have full access to their own OBC.
Birth parents were never guaranteed privacy through legislation on the federal, state ,or local level. Never. Yet they hold the legal rights (via vetoes written into state laws) to prevent the child they placed for adoption–the child to whom they gave up all legal rights–from accessing knowledge of who he or she is.
I believe in the rights of birth parents. I recognize how often they have been marginalized. The playing field, though, needs to be level here. It’s simply not fair to deny adoptees the fundamental right to know who they are. No other group in the United States is cut off like this.
I’m disappointed in what seems to be happening here in Washington state, as adoptees’ rights are again being crushed. I’ll be writing to the Seattle Times and elsewhere, and I hope other adoptive parents join me.
The world hasn’t ended in Kansas or Alaska, where adoption records have never been sealed. In Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine, adult adoptees can access their records. In these 6 states, adopted adults have the right to access or not access their own records. Many adopted adults choose not to seek their OBC.
The right to one’s original birth certificate should be a real option, not an impossible, illicit act.
It puzzles me that adoptees and birth parents favoring open records have not been more successful. Very frustrating, but I think it shows the imbalance of power in adoption policy. We adoptive parents have been historically mighty in the World of Adoption Policy; it’s time we wielded our clout in this arena for our children to have access to their original birth certificates.
Adopted children grow up. It’s time we treated them as adults.
For some good advocacy, look at the following:
Adoptee Rights Coalition: Information about the status of legislation across the country.
Family Ties: Thoughtful blog written by a grandmother like me, though she’s an adoptee. And has 5 more grandkids than I do.
Washington Coalition for Adoptee Rights and Equality: Information specific to Washington state adoptees.