This is a hot topic lately. There are states trying to pass new legislation to make access to adoptee original birth certificates a reality. There are entities out there protesting this. Adoptees are searching for their history with no real place to start. As birth parents, we cannot sit idly by.
Imagine going to the doctor and being misdiagnosed for years only to find out a simple answer could have been found via your DNA. Imagine the only connection to your ancestors is a DNA test that gives you the name of a country when you could have the ability to learn your whole story, going all the way back to a tiny village in the countryside. Imagine you’re about to give birth to your own children knowing they will have questions as they grow, and you will fail to have answers. Why do we accept this reality for our adoptees?
States With Adoptee Original Birth Certificates
Thankfully, we have some states that grant unrestricted access to adoptee original birth certificates. Those states are: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Vermont, as of 7/1/23.
Some states offer compromised/restricted/discriminatory access. In these states, the adoptee can access their original birth certificate, but only if they jump through unnecessary hoops and meet certain requirements which vary from state to state (for detailed information on each state, please visit https://adopteerightslaw.com/faq-obc). These states are: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Montana, Washington, and Hawaii.
That leaves quite a few states where adoptees are restricted from obtaining their original birth certificates unless the secure a court order approving it. These states are: California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi.
Adoptees across the country have made it known they want unrestricted access. Why would adoptee original birth certificates be denied to them? One would think it would be a basic human right- to have access to one’s own personal:
- Medical History
Adoptees Want Information That Is Crucial To Life
Knowledge is power and we are denying these people that knowledge. I have yet to hear a good reason for it. The argument brought forward by people objecting, is that it will open all closed adoptions. This is just not accurate. As birth parents, can we say that our desire for privacy is more important that than their right to know themselves? Absolutely not. I have interviewed many birth parents spanning the adoption spectrum: open adoptions, closed adoptions, adoptions in reunion, new birth parents, birth parents that placed decades ago. Not even one of them personally felt that original adoptee birth certificates should be restricted. Not only that, but none of them had ever heard of another birth parent that wanted that either. No one on any of the birth parent group pages online have referred to this mindset as well.
So who is opposing this? Potentially a very small percentage of an already small percentage of our population: birth parents that had a closed adoption and do not want contact. To them, I would say one thing: As parents, don’t we want what is best for our children no matter what? Don’t we want them to have the best life possible? Don’t we want them to have better/more than what we had? And as birth parents, haven’t we already sacrificed everything for them to have that? We broke our own hearts to give them the best life possible, what is this compared to that?
I encourage everyone reading- all sides of the triad, not just adoptees, to join in the fight to get basic human right applied to our adoptees. Using empathy, we can imagine how difficult the lack of that information can be. Using our voices, we can make it known we expect that to change.
Please investigate your state’s stance on this issue and write to your government representatives to let them know our adoptees deserve unrestricted access to their original birth certificates and anything less than that is a violation of their basic human rights.