My name is Amy Burt. I am writing to you to ask you to change the adoptee access laws currently in place. These laws as they stand now violate an adoptee's basic human right to have his/her own original birth certificate. As Homeland Security is changing the laws for getting passports, adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents and many others will soon be affected. If the date filed is not within two weeks of date of birth, that person is suspect. An individual has to find other forms of identification proving their birth. This is something that adoptive parents and adoptees do not have under current state law. The Surgeon General is also promoting family medical history. Adoptees again do not have this especially those born in the days of closed records.
The main argument against access law is promised confidentiality. I have website links to two petitions signed by birth mothers across this country proving otherwise. These mothers also did not want that confidentiality especially from their children. I also have website links to the recent Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute research study proving otherwise again. I also have a website link to the Vital Statistics Department of Oregon again proving this information. Interesting facts from Oregon: 1% of birth parents don't want contact from their children. 1/4 of 1% want to be contacted via a confidential intermediary. I also have a web site link to the National Association of Social Workers who also believe that adoptees should be allowed access to their records.
I have also enclosed links to the two court cases, one in Tennessee and one in Oregon. Both of these pages show the Courts ruling on allowing access to adoptee access.
In Oregon this is what those judges ruled:
Because a birth mother has no fundamental right to have her child adopted, she also can have no correlative fundamental right to have her child adopted under circumstances that guarantee her identity will not be revealed. The state did not create a contract with birth mothers to guarantee them that their identities would not be revealed to their adopted children without their consent. Thereby the state is not honor bound by the so-called promises made by medical, religious, and social services to the birth mother.
In 1983, the legislature provided that not all original birth certificates were to be sealed when a child was relinquished for adoption, and the birth mother had no say in whether the original birth certificate was sealed.
Under former statutes, disclosure of records required judicial determination that such disclosure was in the best interest of the adoptee. Upon such a determination, there was no requirement that birth parents or other individuals be notified or have the option to register a veto preventing contact. There could also never be any reasonable expectation of confidentiality.
The argument - Open Records impede the right to familial privacy - falls short. With parenting, contraception, and abortion, women are exercising their rights to familial privacy. With adoption, birth parents relinquish their rights; thereby they do not get the procreational privacy as claimed for by this argument. Both of the states' court systems saw this in this argument.
Now this is very harsh looking at this conclusion. I do believe all in the adoption triad deserve access to adoption records and original birth certificates. I believe both birth parents deserve to know that their child is okay. With the laws currently in place, my birth father and my sister (his daughter born before I was) can not make contact with me nor I them. He and I both have been denied our rights. We did not give up our rights. My birth mother is the only one who gave up her rights, but somehow she has all of them now. Explain that one to me. I have been told that if she feels shame that the state should protect her. I was also told that the state should protect adoptive parents who have not told their children that they are adopted. By allowing access to the triad members, you are lifting the veil of shame surrounding birth mothers. As far as those adoptive parents not telling their children, how can a child find out if they do not know the truth? I personally don't believe that it is right for an adoptive parent to deny the truth from an adoptee.
It is time to give us our rights back. When Concerned United Birthparents, Origins-USA, adoptive parents, adoptees, birth parents, the National Association of Social Workers, Bastard Nation, American Adoption Congress, The Evan B. Donaldson Institute, the NACAC, the Child Welfare League of America, and many many others support our access to OUR records. Why can't you, the state legislator, listen to us? It is OUR lives that you regulate. Shouldn't you ask OUR opinion on this?
Amy K. Burt
Http://www.amyadoptee.blogspot.com (click on my blog and that will take you to the many many others who write about adoption)
Here are all the links that I mentioned in my letter:
Studies and Research:
Surgeon General Family History Project
National Association of Social Workers
Court Cases from Tennessee and Oregon
Adoptee, Birth Parent, and Adoptive Parent Supporters