Monday, September 18, 2006

DEAR HONORABLE INDIANA STATESMAN/WOMAN:

I acknowledge that I am not a constituent in Indiana but its laws affect me here in Texas. I am hoping that, by writing to you, we could change those laws. I am asking that you release the sealed birth certificates of all Indiana adoptees.

To have our original birth certificate is a human rights issue. This right is afforded to all non-adopted people yet many adoptees and their birth parents are told that it is none of your business. All adoptees born prior to 1993 are not allowed access to their original birth certificates in the state of Indiana. Opening the adoption records is not about giving the information to everyone who asks for it but giving it to those who it pertains to -- the adoptee, the birthparents, and the adoptive parents.

I am going to dispense with the two arguments against open records. Abortions increase and adoptions decrease. The National Council for Adoption (known as the NCFA) preaches this heavily. If you look at the statistics from Kansas and Alaska, it would tell the exact opposite is true. I find that most birth parents want to know that their children are safe. In countries such as England and Australia who have opened up their records, this is also true. These statistics can all be found on theses websites: www.bastards.org , www.americanadoptioncongress.org, and several others.

The other argument against open records is privacy. One that I have heard repeatedly is that birth parents were never promised privacy. They will tell you that consistently. Most of these parents will also tell you that they didn't want privacy from their children. In both Oregon and Tennessee, these new open records laws were contested on this very issue. On February 11, 1997 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision confirming that birth parents do not have the right to privacy from their children. (106 F. 3d.703 6th Cir 1997) The right to privacy is about the right to be free from governmental intrusion. Yet the state governments interfere with adoptees' lives daily with the current law of sealing birth certificates. This was copied from the Bastard Nation website. "The courts rejected the plaintiffs claim stating " A birth is simultaneously an intimate occasion and a public event -- the government has long kept records of when, where, and by whom babies are born such as furthering the interest of children in knowing the circumstances of their birth. The right to privacy does not extend to withholding birth information from the very person it justly pertains --the adoptee. One of the things that is coming out about these open records is that only 1% of birth parents want no contact. 99% of birth parents want to hear from their children. Those statistics can be found at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/chs/order/58update.shtml. I was very amazed by this one in particular. Tennessee and New Hampshire have the same kind of results as Oregon.

My argument for open records is this one. I believe it is a basic human right to have a document that accurately records my birth. I do not believe it should be sealed. My questions to you is this: Do your parents own your birth certificate? Would you enter a contract made about you by others and in your best interest and could never break? Your answers would be a resounding NO. Yet with Indiana's current laws, that is exactly what you expect me to do. Please understand this one. I have the right to my records documenting my birth but it does not give me a right to a relationship with my birth parents. I am tired of my rights being violated by Indiana's archaic laws. Adoptees and birth parents do not need a confidential intermediary to conduct our own personal business. We are grown adults who are very capable of handling our own affairs. Indiana's laws also protect only the birthmother. Any children of the birth father, the birth father, the birth mother's children, and other relatives on both sides are not allowed to make contact with the adoptee under the law if the birth mother refuses contact. It is one of the hidden laws that no one knows about until you hit this obscure wall. We can all be on the passive registry but we can't be put into contact with each other because the birth mother has refused. All I know is that the state was sued because of inaccurate information was given out but I haven't found the court cases on this one. This is exactly what has happened in my case. In my situation, my birth father wanted me but my birth mother decided that would not work. Her reasoning is something that is very much beyond me but it was her choice back then. My birth father is now 79 years of age. I believe he deserves the right to at least see me before he dies. Neither one of us can do that because the law allows her to refuse contact thereby closing all contact with other family members.

So lets clarify these laws completely. Lets open all the original birth certificates in Indiana to adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. With your help, we can do this.

Sincerely,
Amy K. Burt
aka Amyadoptee
birth name Michellin

9 comments:

MaeDay said...

Good letter Amy.
Let us know if you hear back.

Shelley in IN said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. May I use your letter as a template for writing one from the bmom perspective?

Keep up the good work!

Nicats said...

Is this an error?

Any children of the birth father, the birth father, and other relatives on both sides are not allowed to make contact with the adoptee under the law if the birth mother refuses contact.

Should one of the fathers be mother? Just checking.

I would like to write to someone also but I am terrible at writing something important.

Nicole

dbannie said...

Really, really a great letter, Amy!
Nice that back up your statements for support for open records with references to data. Thanks for sharing it.
Dbannie

Overwhelmed! said...

Bravo! This is an extremely well written letter! I hope it helps in your fight for your right to your original birth records.

I'd love to hear if you get a response to this letter and what that response was.

Daughter of 2 women said...

I think it sounds good. You did a good job of getting your point across without attacking them.

Third Mom said...

Well done - you are doing great work.

I read your post on the mother name controversy, too, and it occurred to me while I was reading that change can occur on many levels, all working in parallel. And I think the work you are doing is a really important part of the total effort.

AMYADOPTEE said...

Thanks everyone.

Nicats- it is father. Her sons can't even be put in contact with me because she has refused. The law doesn't state that the birth mother owns the records. It says birth parent. It was a couple of court cases that changed it but I can't find reference to those court cases. Sad isn't it.

Wraith said...

"The right to privacy does not extend to withholding birth information from the very person it justly pertains --the adoptee. "

Boy do I wish this were really true. At least in the legal system across the States.

Great letter!!