by Joyce Bahr
There aren't too many states recognizing in law the adult adoptees fundamental right to a non certified copy of their original birth certificate. Just nine states Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire ,Oregon and Rhode Island. Several states have pending legislation and there are several with new limited access laws meaning a birth parent can file a contact veto.. Just seems so wrong that natural;/birth parents would be able to prevent the child they gave away, and is now 18 or older from this basic human right. It is wrong, the sealed record law is in violation of the adoptee's human rights and is a violation of the tenets of governance of human rights. What kind of people are these natural/ birth parents who would want to violate another person's human rights? How many birth parents were aware of the change in the law allowing them to prevent an adoptee from access to the original birth certificate? How many were elected to serve in state legislatures when these laws were passed? The answer is, hardly any or none.
Very likely adoptive parent legislators who don't want there adult children, regardless of how old they are, to know or reunite with the natural/birth parents, were present in committee meetings or hearings at the Capitol. This is because adoption has not changed from being what it's always been about,"protecting the adoptive parents." Since adoption is a service it would seem surveying natural parents and adoptees for their opinions would be in order but, not the case. Surveying adoption attorneys, of course. Surely the New York State Women's Bar association gave their opinion.
Who was behind changing the law in New York so natural parents would no longer be known as natural parents in law? How many natural parents were notified to see if they agreed to it? How many natural parents support groups were notified about pending legislation to make them known officially in law as birth parents? The answer is none, because adoptive parents and adoption attorneys know best, and they have the money and power. How many adoption attorneys support open records legislation for adult adoptees in New York ? The answer is one or two.
Surely there are a small number of adoptive parents in legislatures who want their children to know the basic facts of their life and share it with their spouses, families and friends, but the truth remains, natural/birth parents have always been neglected when it comes to getting information. Women like myself had, no information, no options and no support at the time we signed our children away years ago. There was no attorney to represent us. No one asked us our opinion about anything. Some of us were drugged and/or verbally abused.
This is also a women's rights issue, and we look to Australia as a world leader in adoptee's and women's rights in adoption. Recently Australian natural mothers were successful in a recent federal senate inquiry into forced adoptions, and in receiving apologies from maternity homes, religious organizations such as the Catholic Church and state governments. The federal senate inquiry resulted in an official apology in Parliament from the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Parliament pledged $5 million in support services for victims of forced adoptions and $1.5 million for a special exhibition in the National Archives.
Australian women are never referred to as birth mothers and they've had the support of the national women's movement since they came out in the 1970' suffering from grief and shattered from the injustice of forced adoption.. Both adoptees and natural parents in Australian have had the right to know for many years along with the following countries: England, Holland and New Zealand .
A few years ago Oregon legislature miraculously enacted a law making it easier for natural parents to go through the courts and obtain information to find the surrendered child now 18 and older. Women in the U.S. have not come a long way but, there are a few other states offering them assistance.
Natural mothers in the U.S. first became empowered in the 1970 with the women's movement and the adoptee rights movement. thousands have searched and reunited. They have become known as birth mothers in New York and all over the country. If they were asked their opinions on changing the old sealed record law in New York by our state government many of us would fall off our chairs. Why would our government ask?
The truth of the matter is birth/natural parents are being given power over adult adoptees not only to deny rights but, violate their human right to know the basic fact of their birth by filing a contact or redaction veto and most aren't aware of the new laws. A contact veto means the birth parent can prevent the adoptee from access to the original birth certificate while, the redaction veto allows the birth parent the right to remove their name from the original birth certificate. Legislators often feel they cannot move a bill unless a veto is included in the legislation.
Does anyone feel adoptees and birth parents should determine the laws or have more input?