Even though National Adoption Month is more about the adoptions out of foster care that are happening today, or the open adoptions from birth that are happening today, there is more to the subject of adoption than that for me.
In forty-four states, adoptees are not allowed access to their original birth certificates.
In the other six, high fees may apply. In addition, some require the use of an intermediary to grant (or not grant) permission for access to the birth certificate.
I would have thought nothing of this a few years ago. That is, until my father decided to search for any evidence of birth parents still alive or at the very least, birth family.
Lori, a local blogger pal, is raising money for AdopteeRights, an organization that fights on behalf of those like my father, those born before open adoption came to be. Please comment on her post – for each comment, SixSeeds will donate $2 to AdopteeRights this month.
(As an aside, I would like to congratulate Elizabeth and her husband on the finalization of their daughter’s adoption a few days ago.)
I’m adopted, but I was blessed enough to get to meet my birth mother, so I never really had a deal with the original birth certificates. But I can understand how that would be very frustrating if you were searching for your biological family. :/ Thanks for the info.
It gets more convoluted yet. The Other Half had to produce a birth certificate for legal reasons some years back. His was a private adoption, so his (adoptive) parents had copies of all the legal paperwork. At the time he was born, it was considered extremely shameful to have borne a child out of wedlock, and pregnant teens were often sent away until they delivered (and put up for adoption or gave to a married couple in the family to raise as their own) their children. Even in the case of rape, it was considered the woman’s fault to have gotten pregnant. Often, to protect the fathers (who would have had to quit school to support their kids, lost scholarship opportunities and college-selection opportunities), they were listed as “unknown” on the original birth certificate and all the adoption papers. If my Other Half were interested in finding out the identity of the man who sired him, he would have to seek out his birth mother — and hope she was still alive and coherent enough to answer questions — to find out. (And this is presuming there was only one father candidate.) OTOH, the “unknown” father makes it easier to put a child up for adoption, and for adoptions to be finalized (you’ve seen those “fathers’ rights stories where three years on, the father finds out he’s sired a child and sues to get custody of said child, whose identity is already closely tied to the parents who have been raising and nurturing him — I get the impression that today both parents have to agree to put a child up for adoption?).
Tmana, that’s why my father is listed as “Unknown” on my birth certificate. My mother refused to sign the adoption papers at the last minute. However, my father didn’t want me (and is currently a guest of the state of CA), so it’s a moot point.
First, thanks so much for the congrats!
I wholeheartedly agree with you, that it’s incredibly unfair (and emotionally unhealthy) for adoptees not to be able to learn anything about their parents. After having spent so many years researching adoption, there are so many things about the adoption industry that make no sense to me.
We went into our adoption looking for birth mothers who wanted an open adoption, since we knew it would be best for our baby. (There’s a lot of research around this now, which is why open adoption is becoming so prevalent.) It’s definitely caused some issues and concerns, and will inevitably make things a bit harder for me and my husband as Anna gets older, but I know it’ll be so worth it in the end when she has questions, and that because of it, she’ll never feel like part of her is missing.
Thanks so much for this, Rachel! It’s so important for your dad and other grown ups to be able to have access to documents the rest of us take for granted.
And congrats to Elizabeth and her family!