September 14, 2011

"Power" ~ The Operative Word

Courtroom detail
© Photographer: Junial | Agency:

Adoptees should be just like every other American citizen and have full unconditional access to their OWN birth certificate, identifying information, and court records. Anything less is ludicrous, discriminatory, and strips them of human rights ~ for both adoptees and their children and lineage after them. It isn't about smoke-screen issues ~ it is about adoptees having the same civil right as every other American citizen to own their obc and know their identity, heritage, genealogy, and medical histories.  Ethical issues in adoption cannot be adequately addressed without giving adoptees the same rights as other citizens ~ unconditional access to their obc upon adulthood. 

I saw a clip of a commercial for an upcoming movie about civil rights. A elderly black gentleman was sitting on a bus, when the bus driver turned around with a snarl on his face and said "the colored area starts one row back", for which the gentleman replies, "no, it starts right here."

Adoptees rights have been trampled on for decades in this country. Our permitted "area" of vital statistics has been boxed in with blanks, untruths, amended, falsified birth certificates, and vetos for long enough. We need to stand up and say "NO" ~ we want to enjoy the same civil rights as our fellow citizens ~ and it should start NOW ~ actually yesteryear. Civil rights activists took gutsy stands in the face of opposition, law, and those who misunderstood and held the commonly held societal view of them.

Adoptees have been fighting this same battle for decades now in state legislatures. We are the only American citizens (6 million of us or more) who are delegated to a completely different set of rules and standards regarding our OWN identities, court records, vital statistics, genealogy, health histories, and personal rights. It is time NOW to be brave, and come out of the shame that "sealed records" laws have inflicted on us.

Wilbur Wilberforce fought for decades in the English Parliament to outlaw slavery. He had to overcome the prevailing view of the time that to outlaw slavery would vastly hurt the economy of the wealthy and elite. This "business" aspect of the slave trade and unethical laws and lobby of the slave-traders was able to "cloud" the reasonable, other-wise "compassionate" hearts of lawmakers and society for years ~ while black slaves and their children lost their identities and freedom.

The entire battle had to be won again in America, so that black people would not be held to a completely different and derogatory set of rules, not able to enjoy the same freedoms as their white counterparts.

Women could not vote in America for a long time, and they eventually had to go after that right themselves.

The same with adoptees in this country. Our lives and the lives of our children are significantly affected by inhumane and derogatory adoption laws and procedures. Most of us were born and relinquished in the "Baby Scoop Era" of the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's ~ a time in history where society completely shunned young, unwed mothers (and still do in many instances) and NEEDED healthy, white babies to fulfill the families of those who could not have their own. Today is just another chapter of the same story.

Until adoptees come together and shed the shame and feeling of complete disloyalty when we take up our own voices and realize that we are NOT being disloyal to our adoptive parents, to our natural families, to the role that we were given, we will never enjoy the same confidence, freedom, and rights as our counterparts.

Thank God for role-models like Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Wilber Wilberforce and the list goes on and on ~ They were all shunned and silenced with their messages of hope, freedom, and equality in their day. But are now revered for thier messages and the freedom they brought to thousands after them. God bless them! I'm so thankful for those in the adoption world who are heralding the message of equal access to adult adoptees. They are my heroes too! God bless them!

Alberta law gives power to adoptive parents
The Edmonton Journal
Published: 3:02 am

It may be the only case among developed countries.

An unidentified Alberta family has won a ministerial order to keep its adoptee, an adult, in the dark about his or her adoption.

"Alberta has one feature in its adoption law which is different than any other law that I'm aware of in the western world," Dr. Michael Grand, a prominent adoption researcher, said in an interview from the University of Guelph, Ont.

That feature is in a section of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act that lets adoptive families apply for a veto so biological parents can't see the adoptees' files. The veto can be used if the adoptive parents have not told their adoptees they are adopted, and where enlightening them "would be extremely detrimental to the adopted person."

The government has granted just one veto for an adoptive family, Children's Services spokeswoman Cathy Ducharme said.

Grand, a clinical psychologist who was co-director of a national study of adoption policies, said the provision is wrong-headed, particularly because it is aimed at adoptees who are now adults and who should be allowed to find out about their origins. Adoption records are closed until adoptees reach adulthood.

"Alberta has something unique that nobody else would even contemplate putting in," he said. "Why such a bizarre provision that doesn't appear anywhere else in the western world?"

He said he is familiar with adoption policies internationally, and has yet to come across anything like it.

Alberta opened its records to adult adoptees and their birth parents in 2004 so they can learn about each other and possibly reunite. As with other jurisdictions that have taken such a step, the province provided that it can veto access to the records, on request from the adoptees or birth parents.

British Columbia, Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories have also opened their records to birth parents and adoptees, and Ontario is developing similar legislation. None of them have taken Alberta's step of granting veto rights to adoptive parents, and no other province has such a veto provision.

"It was put in place to respond to public concerns," said Cathy Ducharme, spokeswoman for Children's Services. "When these types of vetoes are granted by the minister, there needs to be a lot of evidence that it would be in the best interest of the adoptee not to have this information released."

When the government introduced the veto provision, it suggested adoptive parents might use it where adoptees were conceived through incest or rape. Grand said such adoptees in Ontario have demanded to see their files. In Alberta, while there has been just one veto granted for adoptive parents, there have been 3,000 vetoes for birth parents and adoptees since the adoption reforms took effect.

If an adult adoptee or a birth parent request a veto, the veto ceases when that person dies. But vetoes placed by adoptive parents are permanent, unless their adoptees somehow discover they are adopted and ask to lift them. Vetoes are possible only on adoptions that happened before 2005.

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