Thursday, January 03, 2008

To Tell the Truth



There are six states in the United States that tell the truth to adopted men and women. Alaska, Kansas, Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Maine (beginning January 1, 2009) release to adopted adults their unaltered, original birth certificates, with no conditions attached. These states treat all adopted citizens in the same way as all other individuals in their states. They don’t keep secrets from any of their citizens.

The other forty-four states treat adopted men and women as eternal children, second class citizens, and morons. Adoptee’s original birth certificates and other adoption documents are impounded and sealed in perpetuity – as in forever.

Over the years, many legislators have told me that I couldn’t have my original birth certificate because my birth mother has rights, and her rights trump mine. But Honorable Senators and Representatives , giving me my birth certificate is not about who has more rights. It’s about states keeping secrets from one group of citizens – that group who just happened to have been adopted.

I believe that it is the duty of the state to give me my original birth certificate with no strings attached. This document belongs to me, regardless of the circumstances surrounding my birth. I can frame it, put it in my scrapbook, use it to look for my birth mother, stash it in my safety deposit box, or line the bird cage with it. It doesn’t matter! I am requesting an historical document that was generated by the state solely because of my birth.

Several years ago I was lobbying in the Illinois State Capitol for a new law to change the way in which adopted adults get their original birth certificates. An Illinois State Senator put it succinctly though not tactfully when she told me, “You have no civil rights. You got your civil rights when we found a home for you when your mother didn’t want you.”

I’ll wager plenty of mothers who parented their children didn’t want them either, but never mind. They’ll get their birth certificates.

When I wrote to the Illinois Department of Health to request my original birth certificate, I was told that “No such record exists.” Each time I get another letter like this from the state I pinch myself just to make sure I’m still breathing. Their replies all translate into one simple sentence – “We are never going to give you your original birth certificate because you were adopted.”

The professional social workers tell the judges that I can’t be trusted with my original birth certificate. They think that I need a Nanny to intercede for me. The courts don’t believe me - the one person who is directly affected by the law. Instead the judges listen to the professional social workers and go along with their Nanny Plan. The judges and the social workers don’t think that I’m smart enough to handle my personal and private issues.

When I asked a Cook County appointed social worker about my original birth certificate, she told me she could only give me non-identifying information because as I told you before, the state doesn’t trust me with any original information. My Court Nanny told me that my mother was white and 17 years old. That was it! A little later I think the Nanny felt kind of sorry for me, so she threw a “bonus” my way. “Your birth mother,” she told me, “was born in a state contiguous to Illinois.”

I felt as if I were playing “The Wheel of Fortune” only they didn’t let me buy any vowels.

There are some church groups who don’t want any of us adoptees to have our original birth certificates either. These church groups have major lobbyists working for them in every state house. What the churches want or don’t want trumps whatever I want - that’s for certain. Many churches teach that it’s a sin to have a child out of wedlock. They don’t like me because I’m tainted.

And then there’s one particular church group who has lots of experience in “cover-ups.” Their quasi-legal and often illegal adoption practices are just one more activity they want to cover-up. They don’t want me to ever have my original birth certificate because in the old days, many of this church’s adoption deals weren’t exactly “Kosher” if you know what I mean. The church doesn’t want people to know that is used to handle adoptions with secrets and lots of lies.

Adoption agencies and attorneys have the same exact problem as the church groups – how to handle the lies they used to tell. These agencies fill the corridors of state capitols everywhere with influential lobbyists. And again, the lawmakers are listening to the lobbyists, not to me.

These agencies and attorneys have lied to adoptive parents and birth parents for many decades. They altered records, changed names and dates of birth, omitted medical information, and did not give birth mothers adequate legal representation or professional counseling. Yet all the while they were busy collecting huge fees for themselves. Hanky Panky Agencies became very profitable cottage industries. Adopted adults who are walking around today with original birth documents are potential threats to the adoption BUSINESS.

I don’t want any state governments or their associates hiding information about me from me. You wouldn’t like it either. There should be a free flow of information between individuals and their governments. And that means ALL individuals, even those of us whose mothers didn’t want us.


Anonymous said...

Very powerful and right on target, as always, Anita. I wish ILOpen great success and I feel confident that it will flourish under your guidance.

Anonymous said...

Someone who didn't even know your mother tells you she didn't want you. How can you know this isn't a lie, too, until you've heard her actual story. They tell this to adoptees, among other things, in the hopes of silencing them.

My hopes and prayers for a successful campaign in Illinois in 2008.

Joanne said...

Thank you Anita for so eloquently giving voice to our issues. We are blessed to have you among us.


Anonymous said...

As always you say it like it is, Anita.
And indeed you are right. "Adopted adults who are walking around today with original birth documents are potential threats to the adoption BUSINESS."
Absolutely right on.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Anita!

I would like to see more mentioned about the lottery states. You know, the ones where if you draw the wrong birthdate you can't get your records.

How come I can live in Kansas and have all the rights of other tax-paying Kansans - but I can't get my birth certificate because I was born and adopted in New York?


Chris said...

Thanks for the great post, and best of luck in IL. It's such an obvious ethical trump -- the right of an individual to full human identity over the right of a business to be profitable -- but in our world that values the corporate more than the individual, we're forced to continue to bang our heads against the wall. Thanks for banging loudly!
- proud bastard out of VT

Andie D. said...

“You have no civil rights. You got your civil rights when we found a home for you when your mother didn’t want you.” Yeah, so we should just shut the eff up and be grateful for the crumbs, right? We don't count as normal citizens of the US because we never should've "been". What did you say back to the Senator? I have a few words that I'd like to say.

P.S. I found your page through Marley. I cannot express how excited I am that you are starting this in Illinois! Even if records have to become open state by freakin' state, it's worth it. Thank you!

Grannie Annie said...

To Anonymous,

Please reread my blog. I didn't say our birth mothers didn't want us. A senior Illinois Senator said it to myself and two others who had been down in Springfield lobbying for our bill.

I use the term bastard because that is what I am and I am proud of it. I do not fling the term at anyone else.