|That's me on the right with my adoptive family|
By Trace Hentz
News stories like this one in Missouri enrage me (read below). 31+ states restrict adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates, just like Missouri who is now considering a change. Some states will charge fees in the thousands of dollars for an adoptee to get their own identifying information.
Minnesota is still holding my OBC hostage. WHY? Old laws, old ignorant beliefs. All my parents, birth and adoptive, are dead. Why can't I have a piece of paper that has my real name? Why should I have to pay anything to have it? I didn't ask to be adopted. I didn't ask to have a fake amended birth certificate.
Has anyone else heard of the REAL ID ACT of 2005 that will require we all have documentation as to our identity. The creators of this ACT didn't think of 7+million adoptees - most don't have any real identification?
And let's look at more costs! State Intermediaries also charge adoptees fees: More money we don't have. I spoke with an adoptee last week and she said Lutheran Social Services told her to pay them $1000 and there was no guarantee they'd even find her file. No, they don't give refunds either. REALLY?
Karen Vigneault and I are still assisting Native adoptees who are trying to find their tribal families. And it's free. But we run into roadblocks with states like Missouri, Minnesota and Utah who are holding Native adoptees own documentation hostage. (look in the reference section to get in touch with Karen or me.) If you need to know information about the state where you live, and how to open your adoption records, please email Karen or me.
The costs of being adopted is not even mentioned in this story below:
Missouri considers easing adoptee birth certificate access
Donatti, 18, was adopted shortly after birth. She has known the names of her biological parents since childhood but didn’t try to form a relationship with them until she learned her biological father was fighting cancer and a rare genetic disorder, which she had a 50 percent chance of inheriting.
“I could have this and I wouldn’t have known that had I not had my birth certificate,” she told The Associated Press.
Missouri is one of more than 31 states that restrict adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates, according to the American Adoption Congress, a group advocating expanding such access. Adoptees can obtain their original birth certificates only through a court order; they can access their adoption file, which can contain identifying information, if their biological parents give their permission or die.
If the parents cannot be found, the information remains sealed.
Legislation scheduled for a vote on Feb.9 by a Missouri House committee would change that. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. Don Phillips, would open access to original birth certificates to adoptees at age 18.
The current law creates hardships for adoptees that should not exist under the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, said Phillips, R-Kimberling City. “It doesn’t say, P.S., by the way adoptees, sorry about your bad luck but you’re not included.”
After an adoption is finalized, a court amends the child’s birth certificate to list the adoptive family as the parents. An adoptee doesn’t need consent to get nonidentifying information about biological parents — which can include a medical history if it was provided at birth.
The current arrangement protects the confidentiality of the birth mother, said Laura Long, and it would be wrong to change that retroactively.
Long, who is an adoptee, works as a confidential intermediary for people seeking their biological parents’ permission to release their identifying information. Many parents consent, she said, but many were traumatized by getting pregnant and placing their child for adoption. People still feel stigmatized by that, she said, and it’s still a secret for some.
The state should respect the wishes of parents who agreed to adoption because of its confidentiality, said Tyler McClay, general counsel for the Missouri Catholic Conference, which opposes the bill. He said a better model is Illinois, which makes identifying documents available unless the biological parents opt out.
The bill is HB 1599.