When I first came online there was only a handful of sites where you could reach out and find information on how to search for your birth family. There were members on those sites that would guide you to adoption registries, explain how to get your non-identifying information from the agency or state, or if you were lucky, you were born in one of the handful of states you could order your original birth certificate (OBC). I knew nothing about the Adoptee Rights fight to get our rights back. I didn’t even know I could get my non-id information, nor that I even had an original birth certificate somewhere. I’ve learned a lot since then about clean vs. compromise Adoptee Rights legislation. Lately, two things have become exceedingly clear to me:
*1* When an Adoptee Rights push to restore the right to access your original birth certificate succeeds in a state, knowledge of that change isn’t disseminated well. The people who’ve worked to get change to happen and those who follow them know about the change. Years after the law has changed people born in a state that is now open, still show up on FB pages and adoption forums asking about how to search when you don’t have information.
*2* When an Adoptee Rights push in a state allows compromise, some adoptees in that state are bound to lose, be left out, left behind.
Some laws where compromise happened allowed a birth mother or birth father to redact their names within a certain window of time before they started releasing the OBC to the adoptee. While the number of redactions is typically small, imagine if you received one and knew your birth mother or father recently went to the effort to make sure you didn’t get to know their names. I can’t imagine the damage that would do to an adoptee, it breaks my heart that the party with no choice in being adopted has to deal with that.
Sometimes the way the language is structured in the law change, they aren’t even getting what I would assume a non-certified copy of their OBC would be. I’d expect to receive a copy of my original birth certificate, one that looks like my amended birth certificate (ABC) with more data and knowing a compromise happened and they allow a birth parent to redact, and hope mine wasn’t redacted. Instead, the reality is opening the envelope and discovering that instead of the copy (photocopy) of your OBC you were expecting, you received a summary document listing just some of the information on you OBC.
I have my original birth certificate proudly framed hanging on the wall. It’s on paper with all the fancy borders framing in the details of the day I was born in boxes, twenty-seven boxes of info in total, with all but one box filled in, the one that states the date the given name was filled in, a date that never happened when Baby Girl was replaced with a name. I recognise my privilege in having the OBC I have, because it was from a court-order, not a law change. Here’s what I wrote a few years ago about the day I received my original birth certificate, you wouldn’t want to read what I felt if I’d received a summary document created by a stranger who had access to my original birth certificate, but I wasn’t deemed worthy of even getting an actual non-certified copy of my original factual record of the day I was born.
Pennsylvania Adoptee Rights (PAR) withdrew support for this legislation when it changed to a redaction bill, I want to make that clear. Despite withdrawing their support, their FB page has kept people up-to-date on the new law. Adoptees born in PA are now starting to receive their “OBC”, most commenters on this post don’t seem to realize (or don’t care) that they aren’t getting the real deal. Perhaps it doesn’t matter to most people, but at least one person said this on PA Adoptee Rights FB page post said: “I thought we were actually getting a birth certificate. I just got a letter with a few tidbits of information.” The letter, document, call it what you will is apparently all they are they are entitled to per the law as it clearly states below, although I struggle with the reach that it is a copy of your OBC, when I compare the handful of facts they’ll get with the 27 boxes of information on mine from a different state.
“If your birth record was registered in Pennsylvania, we will issue you a noncertified copy of your original birth record if our records confirm that an adoption was documented by our office. This document will include your original birth name, birth date, county of birth, and name(s) and age(s) of birth parents.” (source)
The twitter link below is a thread on the issue.
If you’ve received your OBC from your state – was it a summary document of just a handful of facts, a copy of your actual birth certificate (redacted or not) or ?