What some adoptive parents think they know about what happens to the original birth certificate…

20 Oct


A question was asked on the Adoptive Families FB page on whether the adoptive parents had obtained their child’s original birth certificate before the adoption was finalized.  I have to say that while I think adoptive parents should get a copy, it also makes them less likely to recognise that their child, based on the state they were born in may not have the same right as all other citizens born there.  If they have their child’s OBC there is no incentive for some to stand up and say equality matters for all adoptees.  To me that’s a problem…

But some adoptive parents who answered were poorly educated by their adoption professional, and that’s just not acceptable today.  I’m using these examples because they are handy, but the same lack of knowledge isn’t just isolated to a few.  Quotes below are from this post.

“We adopted both our children from Arkansas. They have two birth certificates and I believe when they turn 18 they can get access to original one.”

Sorry, but the answer is no, they can’t get their original birth certificate when the turn 18, or 77, for that matter.  The only option I could find other than changing the law, is signing up on a mutual consent registry even just to get your non-identifying information.  The state has a mutual consent registry (non-id as well) but every licensed adoption agency can create their own registry, or choose to turn their adoption registry over to the state mutual consent registry (no link to which agencies have transferred on the state website).  Only those adoptions that went through the state, or the agency has transferred their registry, or those adoptees who aren’t sure their adoptions went through the state, will be able to join the state mutual consent registry.  Doesn’t that sound like a mess?  What if the adoptee has no idea which agency they were adopted from but knows it was an agency?  What if that agency has closed and the files weren’t transferred?  At best it is hit or miss to get even your non-id, let alone any mutual consent matches if the person from the birth family has no idea what agency the adoption went through. (source)

“We are adopting from Texas. We can request a copy of our sons original birth certificate when he turns 19. I asked our social worker if she could make a copy of the original and she said no. We found out his birth name when I was trying to straighten out hospital/doctor bills from before we brought him home to Minnesota.”

Only if your son knows the names of his parent(s) listed on the original birth certificate can he apply for a plain paper copy of the original birth certificate.  If you only know his birth name, then you are out of luck unless you, or your child as an adult, petitions for ‘good cause’ and its granted, but that’s usually a very steep hill to climb (unless the parents by birth have signed waivers and I don’t know if Texas offers that).  I’ve seen other adoptive parents fall for this ‘request’ wording around the original birth certificate, request does not mean you apply and receive it.  To petition the court (request) to unseal your original birth certificate usually requires a severe medical condition, or other very compelling reason. (source (see the pdf for the Tx Adoption Info Brochure in the blue box)).

“We live in Vermont and were told that his original birth certificate was destroyed once our adoption was finalized. We only have the version with our names on it.”

No, the original birth certificate is not destroyed, far from it.  An adoptee adopted after July 1, 1986 can obtain a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate provided a disclosure veto has not been filed – those adopted before that date are out of luck and can only be matched through the mutual consent registry until the law is changed.

Adoptee’s Original Birth Certificate: A non-certified copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate (source (Vermont Dept. of Children and Services pdf on adoptees and access))

“In Louisiana they destroy the original birth certificate” note she did get her children’s OBC’s before the adoption was completed.

(4) The state registrar shall seal and file the original certificate of birth with the certificate of the decree. This sealed package may be opened only on the order of a competent court. (source)

Both Marley and Kat chimed in, but it was as if they hadn’t spoken.  No questions asked about whether the laws could be changed, if there was a group dedicated to changing it.  Just not interested at all, and yet, Kat defined the problem well when she stated:

“Adoptees in most states are prohibited from receiving a copy of their OBC. I think it’s great that so many APs acquire their child’s OBC for them but it is important that states change laws so adoptees have equal access to their own documents the same as all other citizens. We shouldn’t have to rely on our parents to give us access to our own OBC.”

Please, as always, let me know if anything is incorrect…have a great week…


Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , , ,

42 responses to “What some adoptive parents think they know about what happens to the original birth certificate…

  1. Snarkurchin

    October 20, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Short answer: When we adopted, our child’s civil rights were the last thing on our mind. They still are.

    Yeah, we…kinda knew that.


    • TAO

      October 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      You always make me break out laughing…always…


      • Snarkurchin

        October 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

        It’s truly good to know that, because I’m so rarely laughing or even smiling when I type such things.


        • TAO

          October 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm

          yeah – true enough but you always make me smile…kind of like when my grandma would say to people leaving “leaving so soon? we were just starting to like you”…that makes me laugh just thinking about her…blunt, plain spoken…


  2. AdoptiveBlackMom

    October 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I guess I was fortunate that a copy of my daughter’s OBC was included in her disclosure records.


    • TAO

      October 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      If I remember correctly you adopted through FC? It’s seems to be far more common for the OBC to be given with FC. I don’t know if your daughter’s birth state is open or closed or is a tiered state like Vermont above. Unless it is an open state she does not have the right to apply to Vital Records and receive a copy of her OBC. To me that means she isn’t equal to you (assuming you aren’t adopted). Adoptee Rights organizations have been fighting for over 30 years to change the laws back to what they used to be…

      Thanks for commenting – this is one of my favorite topics…

      Liked by 1 person

      • AdoptiveBlackMom

        October 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        She is originally from WA, and I admit I’m totally ignorant about whether she can get her OBI on her own. Definitely an equality issue I had not considered. Thanks for educating me!


        • TAO

          October 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm

          Washington is an open state, think she has to be either 19 or 21 – but they folded and allowed a “veto” so there are going to be some adoptees who will be denied. Wish they had done what Oregon did which was simply a contact preference form to fill out with a yes to contact, yes to contact through intermediary, no I don’t wish to be contacted. That should be the way it is for all states. Enough with this mommy may I when mommy lost or surrendered all her rights many years before… Apparently I’m talkative today.:)


  3. Erin

    October 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    We were lucky enough to be able to keep a copy. And thankfully our state has recently changed their laws. I don’t think having gotten one originally made me any less passionate about standing up for the rights of others though.


    • TAO

      October 20, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      That’s why I try to always use “some”…because I never want to paint with a broad brush. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • TAO

        October 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm

        Now you have me worrying about how to fix that sentence 🙂


  4. Beth

    October 21, 2014 at 1:49 am

    In a closed state, if you know parent and child names, from the saved copy of the OBC, can you receive a copy then?
    I think I am confused 🙂
    I think the OBC is in a different location than the others?


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Beth – Texas added that to the law that if you knew the names then you could have it – at least that is what it said on the adoptee access brochure.


      • Beth

        October 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

        I’m shocked.
        That actually makes some sense.


  5. Mimi

    October 21, 2014 at 3:23 am

    I”m glad you brought this issue up. I asked for a certified copy of Nana’s OBC before our adoption was finalized. I requested it so that I would have an original to give her but used the excuse (which was an actual need) that I needed it to request a passport. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it without a reason besides she should just have it on g.p. Yep, that fear/concern in itself is a problem.

    I’m considering your assertion that having an OBC might make an adoptive parent less incentivized to support adoptees rights regarding adopted persons access to OBCs. I’m wondering if that is actually a true statement. The rationale may be correct and possible. But I’m wondering is there really significant, visible and articulated support amongst APs regarding OBCs for that scenario to de-incentivize. My overall impression is that this isn’t a huge point of discussion amongst APs.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Mimi, the only reasons I say this is that adoptive parents did listen to adoptees who talked about the OBC and decided to try their best to get it. So they listened and once they had it, they didn’t need to worry about all adoptees because their child had theirs. To try to get support from the adoptive parent community to even contact their state elected officials when legislation is pending and have them stand up in support of changing the laws is like pulling teeth. Now compare that to the push for the ATC renewal – that get’s promoted, supported, letters written – night and day difference, everyone is on board to ensure it sticks around. I think it boils down to mine has it, I’ve done my job – and other prospective adoptive parents are my group and I need to make sure they get the ATC as well. Did that make sense – and of course there are some who stand up with actions behind adoptees but certainly not most.


      • Beth

        October 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        I confess that I am not as active as I used to be.
        Even tho my OBC is still sealed from me – I know I am not as active today only because I found my family anyway and now know them, have an ill gotten copy of my OBC, and I am just tired.

        I spent decades searching, decades talking to the walls trying to get things changed.
        I’m exhausted. That crap made me hobble along, that person inside of me has a cane now, and she is tired and slow.
        I do not think I would allow this exhaustion if there weren’t so many more people out there fighting the fight now.
        Without them, I’d still be out there, like Mr. M. in the field, on crutches with an oxygen tank, digging potatoes, with my good arm, everyday.
        I’m not out yet tho, I do send money!


  6. eagoodlife

    October 21, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Birth Certificates in America…..


  7. Tiffany

    October 21, 2014 at 4:34 am

    This was actually a very big issue for me. I did not want my daughter’s OBC changed at all. I asked about any possible ways we could keep it, but legally, for her to crime our child (rights to inheritance, insurance coverage, etc), we had to sign a new BC. We do have a copy of her OBC, as do her other parents. But that’s not the point at all.

    It infuriated me, and I did say something to the judge at our finalization. I do not appreciate being made a liar: I did NOT give birth to my daughter who is adopted. Her other mom did that, and I do not like that being treated like a secret or a shame to be hidden away.

    My daughter is my heart, an integral part of our little family. We didn’t need a piece of paper for that, and we didn’t need her identity erased for that either. I strongly and vehemently support open records, even more so as an adoptive mother who was forced into perpetuating a lie by my state. My daughter who is adopted deserves equal rights as my daughter who is not adopted.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Tiffany – I’ve read some state laws that allow it, others are mute on the subject so I’m guessing you adopted in one of those mute states. I do have to say that with hindsight – I wouldn’t have wanted a different last name than my family. So I’m okay with it – others aren’t but it’s just one of those topics where I doubt there will ever be consensus.


      • Tiffany

        October 21, 2014 at 2:08 pm

        She wouldn’t have had a different last name actually. Little mixup and confusion on that front. As an aside, speaking as someone who has given birth and relates to that hazy fog feeling in the days after, it’s not ethical to ask moms planning to place for adoption these kinds of questions without explaining. (also why I believe it should be a longer period before a mom can no longer change her mind, certainly not while she’s still in the hospital).

        Anyway, so that’s one reason I fought so strongly to change it. Then why I tried to change the last name on the original before it was sealed. Roadblocks in both cases. I don’t know if our state is exactly mute on the subject. I was told it was not possible by several people, and also my research found the same.


  8. Robyn C

    October 21, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Louisiana destroys the OBC, huh? I guess no one told my lawyer that, as I have my daughter’s OBC.

    I was fortunate that our Missouri lawyer sent me a copy of our son’s OBC. I didn’t realize how important that was until later.

    I hate when adoptive parents seem to think that OBCs aren’t all that important, or when they just don’t care to know anything about the movement to unseal records. We recently had a conversation on an open adoption group about how open adoption does not have anything to do with open records. Someone thought it did – that in an open adoption, the records weren’t sealed. *sigh* It’s one thing to be ignorant. We’re not all born with the knowledge we need. It’s another thing to choose to think that something isn’t important because you don’t see how it impacts your life. It upsets me that my children won’t have the same rights that other children have, just because they were adopted. I don’t see how other APs can ignore that.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      It bothers me no end that adoption professionals don’t do their job and provide facts. It bothers me that adoptive parents don’t want to dig deep and know about the laws on the books that affect their child.

      The open adoption removed the secrecy MYTH is very problematic. Of course records are still sealed. And, no one is going to ever destroy a state document – they may amend it – but they have to keep the original – it’s called a paper trail to support why it was amended. Common sense to me.


      • Beth

        October 21, 2014 at 6:29 pm

        I can’t imagine what I would think/say if someone told me my birthed or my adopted child’s birth certificate would be destroyed. Or anyone’s BC would be destroyed.
        I am pretty sure I would loose it in some way, I would rock the boat, I would renig on whatever deal.
        Is that not a rational reaction? Am I projecting, crazy, just don’t get it, missing something?
        When/how would anyone think that is okay in any circumstance, or just how it is, move on. ?
        I really don’t get it.


  9. Beth

    October 21, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Answering my own question. 🙂 Oh yeah, I tried that 10+ years ago when I finally found my info and people, I must have blocked out the trauma of not existing, by receiving the message from WV Vital Records, in large bold print, printed on the same type of paper as my amended BC…
    Hey, can’t blame me for trying


  10. Beth

    October 21, 2014 at 9:21 am

    The argument, or excuse – not sure what to call it. The thing I have heard most from APs, and from some adoptees, is that they don’t want to stand out in the crowd, out the adoptee for being adopted, when it is not necessary,
    while signing up for the soccer team with BC in hand.

    I can empathize with that a little, BUT that does not mean the original must be sealed to the adoptee in my world.

    I know we adoptees have come up with many good ways to work around this, and have shared these ideas with many online, and many have not understood the importance of it. It seems to be worth the price to pay to keep it that way for privacy/secrecy. Very convenient for many.

    No big thing to concern yourself with, that’s just how it is, it could change one day – is what I hear too often.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      that’s just how it is…and adoptees adapt and everyone is happy…


  11. Lara/Trace

    October 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Something as important an OBC (even my own), was not discussed in my foster-to-adopt training years ago in Oregon in the 1980s. As an adoptee, I believe we were meant to become legal possessions with new papers to go along with the ruse. If this isn’t trafficking, I don’t know what is.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      the perfect blank slates…


  12. Beth

    October 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Can’t help but wonder why Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t mention sealed OBC’s on the View? Or why not yet?
    I don’t really know what camp she is in, but I always wonder why it’s never mentioned, at all, on that show.
    It’s a pretty Hot Topic to me, especially with all the changes that have happened in some states lately. But not a word is mentioned, ever, unless I missed it. Maybe they don’t know about it…

    It’s rare for it to be mentioned/explained even in the reunion stories they or anyone covers.
    Drives me nuts, makes me yell at the TV!! say it! say it! I DARE YOU!
    They don’t say it.

    Most don’t even know the OBC is sealed.
    Would be nice if someone in the media would explain that a bit to the general public, including adoptive families!

    My parents didn’t know I couldn’t get my info at 18. I was told that, by many, When you are 18…………….


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Not going to look for the source so using “alleged” here. Rosie allegedly stated that her children were put in the wrong wombs or some such nonsense…her brother is against NY changing the laws – vehemently from what I understand – but he is for gay rights. Getting back to Rosie – she went on the Who Do You Think You Are – ancestry show. The entire time watching it all I could think of was – now can you look your children in the eye and tell them THEY shouldn’t have the same right…who knows, perhaps that journey changed her views. Not a fan.


    • anenomekym

      October 22, 2014 at 2:54 am

      My guess is that she knows, but chooses to dismiss its value for adopted people. NYT, also, rarely touches on the OBC issue (once or twice every 7 years), yet there are numerous articles about adoption, adoptive parents writing about their families, their struggles, etc.


      • TAO

        October 22, 2014 at 3:22 am

        You’re probably right, adoptees aren’t the same as other people…and they wonder what fuels the anger…

        Need to find a way to break through the firmly entrenched societal perception that adoptees should just be thankful that they were born and taken in by good folks and we should just be content with what we have – and then show them that we are actually people just like they are. People with the same needs, desires, and feelings and worthy of respect. I wish I had the gift of writing things that shattered long-held beliefs…hopefully someone, someday, can.


  13. everyoneactdead

    October 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    It’s so easy to have false ideas about the birth certificate–agencies gloss over it, like it doesn’t matter. It’s assumed that they are telling you everything you need to know, because they are experienced professionals. I thought I could get my son’s OBC (because why would it be sealed from me??? I gave birth to him and that’s not a secret to me) and I was rudely surprised when I applied for it when he was 8 months old, and they told me it was sealed 2 months ago. I didn’t realize “sealed” applied to everyone, haha. Point being that adoption agencies are so opaque with such important issues, we’ve all had our idiotic moments.


    • TAO

      October 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      It seems so silly to seal the OBC from the mother who filled out the forms to create said OBC…


      • onewomanschoice

        October 27, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        It does seem silly. I was not aware. Thankfully, I have a copy of my son’s original birth certificate with seal and it sits in my bible until he is ready to have it. It was mailed to me a couple months after giving birth. At the time, I had no idea how important that piece of paper would be. Now I am very grateful. The only thing missing is a father’s name on the BC because the hospital wouldn’t allow me to put the father’s name on it unless he was there to sign the papers, which he refused. sigh…


  14. JavaMonkey

    October 22, 2014 at 1:13 am


    I think it all comes down to parental control. The adoptive parents who obtain the OBC but don’t advocate for open records are coming from a place of fear. They want open records for their adopted children, but ONLY if the child (whether 14 or 41) comes through them first.

    “Mother, may I please know who I am?” It’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.


    • TAO

      October 22, 2014 at 3:22 am

      Never thought of that – will mull on it…thank you.


      • Beth

        October 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

        MotherS may I? Someone told me that my birth state has gotten easier about getting records or info, laws are the same, but peoples attitudes are changing and suggested I try again with notarized letters from both of my mommies and daddies allowing me to obtain some records and my OBC.

        Found out the 10 yr old forms will not do, have to get new ones notarized.
        Just shoot me.
        It upsets me that I have to upset my 85 yr old parents just to get my record of birth. It’s no wonder so many of us choose not to upset our loved ones and just take the hit ourselves. I do believe that is a motive behind the red tape and secrets.

        “that’s just how it is…and adoptees adapt and everyone is happy…”
        It’s meant for, designed for perfect blank slates, so it’s no wonder it doesn’t work so well for us.

        Too many people in line to turn us down, roadblocks everywhere.

        My question is, why is it any of their business? My father didn’t even know I existed, they didn’t even bother to tell him, they kept it from him on purpose, he signed nothing. And now I have to ask for his permission for my record of birth?

        And what business is it of my aparents? I’m 50 something and they could die any day and no one would be shocked. It’s not like they have the right any more than I do to get the info if they asked for it anyway.

        And my Mom? The state is just keeping it all secret, some say to protect her and me. She’s so protected she can’t prove with documents that she ever even had me, and I am on the other side of it with no proof either, what a theft that is IMO.

        We are locked in a box still, and I will have to get everyone involved, again, to get us out.
        And everyone will blame me, instead of the state, for the upset, for the reminder, imagine that.
        It’s not my wanting it that is the problem.
        The theft is the problem.

        And I am supposed to be happy and content about this mess? Really?
        This is where it all leads me – adoption sucks – fix it or move out of the way so someone else can.


  15. Beth

    October 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Found my violent anger again 🙂 and now I have a picture to throw things at, and a way to recognize him in a crowd, which I hope for the sake of my freedom that I never do… get caught. I’ve had people like him make me and others cry just like Lorraine mentions in the link, it can shake you up.

    I so badly want to call people like this pro-slavery, not pro-adoption. This fearful controlling attitude is far too old, much much older than the early 1900’s. They make us look bad, they make adoption look very bad, very dark, very sick.

    I read quickly about Rosie’s brother, thanks to Lorraine:

    I give up on my memory! I had read that before and I do remember her on Who Do you Think You are. And remember getting excited knowing she must be seeing the light by the deep soulful things that she said. (I love the things they say on that show, and on finding your roots, absolutely love the peoples reactions, we adoptees are no different, imagine that)

    Lorraine wrote that piece in 2011 I think. So until I read more, I will still hold out hope that Rosie is going to fall fairly soon. She needs some pebbles in her shoes. Although i am sure mz walters and the view are keeping their censoring ears open wide.
    I will set my sights on her instead of her brother 🙂
    I know I cannot handle another one of these asshats talking so ugly to me that I can’t help but cry, prison scares the crap out of me.


  16. dmdezigns

    November 5, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I wish we had the OBC for our kids. But their mom was not in a situation where she could go and get a copy for us. And in FL, we couldn’t get a copy as our name wasn’t on it. At least that’s what we were told. Hopefully, she received one in the mail that they can have later. We do know their full names, the siblings names, have pictures and limited contact with extended family to hopefully not lose track of them (they move and change phones A LOT). But I think part of the problem is that many APs just don’t know upfront how important that piece of paper is to the adoptee. And so they miss the opportunity to get it if that opportunity exists. And often times, they as you pointed out have great misconceptions about it’s availability. I didn’t realize until we started the process that my bdad’s name is not on my bc. My adopted dad who is no longer in my life is on that piece of paper. I do have a small copy of my OBC that my grandmother kept but it’s more of a novelty than a real doc. My mom claims to have my OBC but has no idea where in her pile of hoarded belongings it is.



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