When I walk down the street or talk to someone in the grocery checkout people see me as just a person. The same goes when I meet someone, I am treated as an individual, an equal if you will. But over time when they find out I am adopted that adds a new bias to their view of me. For some it isn’t anything more than a fact that makes me different than they are. For others it becomes more than just a difference, to greater or lesser degrees. People have prejudices based on stereotypes and societal biases.
When talking about rights for adoptees you are guaranteed the gamut of outright prejudicial feelings to ignorance of the fight for adoptee rights which for the uneducated doesn’t phase me.
Yet the lack of awareness of adoptee rights seems to be widespread in those hoping to adopt and even in some of those who have adopted. As far as some are concerned “open” adoptions are the solution. The child “knows” where they came from unlike those of us from “closed” adoption, so what more is there to talk about. As far as they are concerned the problem has been solved by having an “open” adoption, or even just if they know the names of the child’s *birth* parents. That isn’t what the fight for adoptee rights is about. They haven’t taken the time to understand that their child still has no legal right to a true record of their birth with all the privileges that provides, and without that access that their child is less than, just like any other adoptee in a closed state with no knowledge.
Some of those above who will actually listen, will still choose not get it. What does that piece of paper actually matter is their response. To me it’s the principle that a minority segment of the population is denied the same right of the majority has. Amanda over at The Declassified Adoptee has this post that explains it better than I ever could “Why my [amended] birth certificate is a lie” which I hope you will read.
I also wish to talk about the adoptees who are now being denied the right to get a passport. Adoptees who were born in this country but because they are adopted, and their amended birth certificate is dated more than a year after their birth, they are denied the freedom to travel outside of the country. With the ever tightening security requirements I have the concerns about what other things they will be denied in the future. The current problem is the requirements for a passport is that your birth certificate cannot be dated more than a year after your birth to be considered primary evidence of US Citizenship. That in itself pretty scary.
If you fall into that category it appears you must provide a combination of the following information, preferably created within the first five years of birth. The following are deemed “Early Public Records” according to travel.state.gov website. Words in italics are direct quotes…
If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, submit a combination of early public records as evidence of your U.S. citizenship. Early public records must be submitted with a birth record or Letter of No Record. Early public records should show your name, date of birth, place of birth, and preferably be created within the first five years of your life. Examples of early public records are:
- Baptismal certificate
- Hospital birth certificate
- Census record
- Early school record
- Family bible record
- Doctor’s record of post-natal care
Problems in providing the above evidence:
- Not everyone is baptised, and even if baptised they prefer it to have happened within the first five years of birth;
- The hospital won’t release their records to you for obvious reasons like your name does not match the name they have, and you don’t have your mother’s permission to her records;
- The census you are on is not released for 72 years, and to get it released is more hoops to traverse, if you even succeed;
- Early school records (before you were five?) – okay you might be lucky enough to access that depending on many different variables that are obvious after an extended period of time;
- A Family Bible? – how many families actually do this anymore?
- The doctor you had as a baby years ago is a possibility, but is also just as likely to be retired or worse yet dead and the files destroyed long ago if you are older.
So even if you can provide a “combination” of the above, it seems like you still have more hoops to jump through below as well that will be almost impossible as an adoptee to provide. Even if you only have to do the above or below neither seems like something an adoptee could do. Per the above link:
“If you were born in the United States and cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, you may submit Form DS-10: Birth Affidavit as evidence of your U.S. citizenship. The birth affidavit:
- Must be notarized
- Must be submitted in person with Form DS-11
- Must be submitted together with early public records
- Must be completed by an affiant who has personal knowledge of birth in the U.S.
- Must state briefly how the affiant’s knowledge was acquired
- Should be completed by an older blood relative
NOTE: If no older blood relative is available, it may be completed by the attending physician or any other person who has personal knowledge of your birth.”
Jumping down to the fourth item the people who have personal knowledge of your birth – well the doctor is gone from that list even if he is alive and you know his name from your birth certificate, because while he might have delivered you – he delivered a baby who was born someone else. As to other staff at your delivery well the same applies to them as it did to the doctor, and you can’t get access to your hospital records to know who they are anyway. As to the only possible others left that have direct knowledge of your birth – you don’t even know their names, let alone if they are alive, dead, living in the US, or not, so that stops both items 4 and 5.
Last hope with the sixth item – note the “blood” relative requirement and you don’t have that because you are not genetically related to your mom and dad, then it circles you back to the fourth item which is not possible for reasons already explained – that is what an adoptee with a delayed birth certificate faces.
I always shy away from doing posts on adoptee rights because I cannot participate and don’t want to confuse the message with my take on it / say the wrong thing. If I had not got sick, I would still be denied my OBC as I was born in a closed state. My amended birth certificate was not delayed, it was back dated. If it was delayed and I hadn’t gotten sick I would not be able to obtain any of the required information. As it stands because I got sick, I could now get my passport because the courts ordered my records to be unsealed and I have a certified copy of my original birth certificate that has the same birth certificate number as my amended birth certificate and notes that it is not the legal version currently on file – that would connect the dots as to why the amended is delayed. I am one of the “lucky” ones to have my original birth certificate – I am one of the very small number of adoptees with my rights restored. I want every other adoptee to have that same right I have, and you have, and every other person has…if you want adoption to considered as a valid, then fight to restore the rights taken from the adoptee at the time of adoption – until then – adoptees don’t have the same rights as the non-adopted so how is adoption as good as?
Stand up and be counted as an ally to the Adoptee Rights Coalition - if you can’t attend this years rally – how about donating to help defray the costs? These protests are held at “National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Summit“ AND they have a booth inside the conference center which is key to getting legislators around the country educated on adoptee rights and why laws need to be changed. Manning a booth all day long is draining, preparing for the conference and ensuring everything is ready, packed, shipped and arrives on time is a huge undertaking not to mention expensive to just have a booth at a conference. What else can you do? You can buy Adoptee Rights Merchandise that goes to defray costs and gives you the perfect opening to educate others that adoptees are discriminated against. Do you know if your state representative going? Ask them to stop at the booth and get educated – your voice to your representative holds him/her accountable to his constituency. Please be a part of the solution.