July 28, 2013

Stolen Identities

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© Photographer: Drx | Agency: Dreamstime.com

The issue of humans rights for adults who were adopted as children ~ whether domestically or internationally, affects millions of Americans and their families.

Adopted individuals are the only group of American citizens who are NOT afforded the RIGHT of owning their OWN original birth certificates and identity information.  Unless you are personally affected by these archaic "sealed records" laws ~ it probably doesn't seem very important. BUT IT IS.

You see, there are proven life-long issues for individuals who are separated from their family of origin. AND there is a billion-dollar BUSINESS of separating children from their family of origin, in order to fulfill another family's desires.

This same business lobbies state governments to keep all these transactions SEALED permanently, even to the PRODUCT of these transactions ~ the adoptee. Since when should HUMANS be allowed to be the PRODUCT of an industry? Most instances of this happening are fought against vehemently in society ~ child-trafficking, slavery, etc. So why are sealed and amended (falsified) birth certificates accepted without question?

Why are adults prohibited from knowing their PERSONAL identity, history, origins, genealogy, medical history, and roots ~ FOREVER? These are some extremely important HUMAN RIGHTS issues that need answers ~ here in our own 50+ states. It affects millions of individuals, families, and decendents of adoptees.

Several U.S. states (most recently New Hampshire, Rhode Island & Oregon) have passed legislation which RESTORES the RIGHT of adult adoptees to their original birth certificate.  Kansas and Alaska have NEVER sealed original birth certificates from adult adoptees.  

Adoptees have been working diligently for DECADES to make this issue known and to educate lawmakers. The sad, sad story ~ we are being silenced, shamed, contradicted, and refuted by the VERY "professionals" who SAY they were working on our behalf ~ the adoption agencies & attorneys ~ the situation remains that adopted children DO NOT REMAIN CHILDREN FOREVER. Yet the laws treat us as perpetual children with NO rights to our own identity and birth information. It affects us personally on a primal level, it affects our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, and all those who come after us.

Adoption law can best be explained as state-sanctioned identity theft.

I've been attending an Adoption Task Force at my state's Capitol recently where the State Dept. of Health reasoned that it would be too expensive to keep count of the number of adoptions completed in our state ~ not fiscally possible. They even mentioned to one Task Force member that they are receiving original birth certificates for babies targeted for adoption (those in "open" adoptions, which by the way, are not legally enforceable and could become "closed" adoptions at the adoptive parent's will) where the potential adoptive parent's names are ALREADY being listed on the obc, before the adoption is even finalized and a new "Amended" birth certificate is issued.

When the legislators present expressed concern about this practice and the Task Force was questioned, one adoption professional spoke up saying "it is the birthmother's 'choice' to put whatever she chooses on the original birth certificate". This just happens to be a representative from an adoption agency who has been in business for many years and is notorious for using "alias" names for first mothers who were shamed into placing their babies during the "Baby Scoop Era" of the 50's, 60's and 70's (see Jan Baker's article, "Do We Really Need to Be Protected."

One adoptee I know found her first mother only because she paid this agency several hundred dollars to act as an intermediary. They were the only ones with the information to match the alias name on her obc with her first mother's true name. Once they were reunited, her first mother could not believe there was an alias name on her daughter's birth certificate and was under the impression her daughter would be able "find her" easily once she turned 18. So untrue. 

Without a true and factual (unfalsified) government document "Certificate of Live Birth", and an adult adoptee's right to access this important information, our civil rights continue to be violated.

Myths perpetuated by the adoption industry fighting to keep records sealed are simply not true.

We continue to dispel common myths surrounding adoptee access, sharing the good news that in the states which have implemented this law, abortion rates have actually declined more than the national average, and that birth mother "confidentiality" was also a myth perpetuated by the adoption industry. In fact, birth mothers were never promised (nor asked for) confidentiality in the law. It was enforced upon them.

The TN and OR Supreme Courts have both ruled on this issue. "Sealed records" were not implemented until 1939 in OK ~ to protect the newly formed adoptive family, not birthmothers.  In fact, even today, if a birthmother relinquishes her child for adoption, but for some reason the child is never adopted and remains in foster care, his/her original birth certificate is never sealed or amended.
Please read more ("Birthright" by Jean Strauss; "The Baby Thief" by Barbara Raymond) about this important HUMAN RIGHTS issue and come along side adult adoptees (along with their families) who are simply asking for the same right as every other American citizen. 

In August of each year, adoptees and their families from around the nation come together and share this important information at the National Convention of State Legislators during  Adoptee Rights Day.  Consider how you can personally help to "open the wells" for adoptees and their families. 

Please contact your local state Legislator today and let them know about this important issue!


Gershom Kaligawa said...

thanks peach

Unknown said...

My husband is adopted and unable to recieve his sealed birth certificate. In fact, he can't recieve a birth certificate at all. This has made a huge impact in our lives! Totally feeling your heart on this matter! Way to speak out!

Heidi-"Heidi in Real Life" said...

Very true, and something I had not thought about. You're absolutely correct--the rights of the child should be at least EQUAL to the persons who relinquished their parental rights.

Ron said...

What state do you live in, Peach?

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Dawn said...

My stepfather adopted me when I was eight and my mother threw away the only copy of my original birth certificate she had. I was born in 1967, but my birth certificate says it was issued in 1976. Of course this causes all kinds of confusion, especially when I applied for tribal membership...I had to appeal to the court in my state to send my adoption papers and original birth certificate to the Cherokee Nation headquarters in order to receive my tribal identification card, but I was not allowed to have, or even see a copy of either document! My mother and stepfather divorced when I was 14 and I haven't seen him since. I know who my bio father is, I'm very close to my paternal grandmother. It's all very heartbreaking and maddening and feels wrong and IS wrong. I've wanted to say this for a long, long time. Thank you.

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