Restore Equal Access for Adult Adoptees
This petition is addressed to members of the US Congress and the President to ask for their support and involvement in restoring Adult Adoptees the Civil Right to their own personal Birth Certificates. Individual States have taken it upon themselves to deny this Civil Right to the segment of their citizens who were adopted without just cause. The denial of this Civil Right is not the result of any crime committed by said citizens, it is based solely on the circumstance of their birth and subsiquent adoption as children.
This petition seeks to illuminate key points central to the restoration of the Civil Right of Adult Adoptees to access their original Birth Certificates. Please support this action and restore equal rights to Adult Adoptees.
* New York was the first to restrict access to court documents, yet in 1951 when it effectively sealed birth certificates the intent was clear that it was not applicable to all adoptees nor was the intent to bar the Adult Adoptee from their Civil Right of access but rather to preserve and protect - "Such record should be preserved by the State, carefully guarded and not open for general inspection but available for legal purposes. Such a change seeks to protect children born out of wedlock by guarding their birth records more rigidly than at present." -- Governor Herbert H. Lehman
* Birth certificates are sealed upon Adoption and *not* at the time of Relinquishment. There are no reported occurrences of Relinquishing Birth-Mothers being present at Adoption finalization hearings. Birth-mothers relinquishing their infants are required to do so within a limited time after birth; but, Adoption may not occur for months, or even years, after the child is relinquished. Sometimes the child is not adopted and ages out of foster care.
* Eight states have full access or semi-access: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee. Not one of these States has reported any ill effects from the granting of Adult Adoptee Access to their birth certificates.
Adoption has been in practice since ancient times. It has been used to insure the legacy of great people and it has been used to not so noble ends as well. Through time the adopted person was not denied his own personal history either by state or country, but in America that started to change after WWII.
In 1925, the U.S. Children's Bureau presented it's report which became the guiding authority in post-adoptive practice. It approved of adoption documents being open only to the parties involved in the adoption, and closed to the general public/others except upon court order. The problem occurred because there was no actual model put in place and each State was left to interpret the information on it's own.
By leaving each State to interpret how the privacy/sealing issue was to be implemented the Federal government failed All adopted persons not just the "born out of wedlock" that the policy was intended for. States applied their own ideas to a practice that was not intended for any other group of adoptees except those relinquished at birth (or thereabouts) and considered "illegitimate" by birth; and that the practice was not to be enforced past the age of majority.
While some states sealed Birth certificates in the 1940s and 1950s, many states did not do so until the 1980s and 90s.
Those who oppose Adult Adoptee Access claim that sealed Birth Certificates are a matter of confidentiality. The facts are that there is no document from any State nor any decree from any court that guarantees Anyone confidentiality; and, after a child is relinquished for adoption and the parental rights and duties of the birth-parent(s) are terminated, there is no guarantee of adoption. Until an adoption does take place the child retains his birth name and access to his Original Birth Certificate. So the claim of a need for confidentiality/privacy was never intended to discriminate against or disenfranchise the Adult Adoptee. It was never intended to deny the Human and Civil Rights of the adopted children once they had reached the age of majority.
Today these Human and Civil Rights are denied Adults Adoptees in all but eight states. Adult Adoptees as a group of US Citizens have done nothing to warrant its denial. We come in all sizes and shapes, all colors and creeds and to be denied these rights without proof of criminal behavior is blatant bias. We were all born like any other being, the only thing that differentiates us from other Citizens of the United States is that we were adopted.
Adoption is not a crime. Being Adopted is not proof of criminal intent or anything that would make us a danger to others.
Restoring the Civil Right of Adult Adoptees to their personal information, contained in their original birth certificates, is only right.
Thank you for your time and attention.