Join the great discussion at Take Away Community on Adoptees’ Access

There’s a great discussion going on at Take Away Community:

Adoptees Fight for Access to Original Birth Certificates

Monday, August 02, 2010

Read the article, listen to the radio interview, and post your own comments.

Even though we’ve been saying the same thing for decades, adoptees and our natural parents are still being ignored by lawmakers.

Many thanks to Diane Crossfield of the Adoptee Rights Coalition for speaking out and against Tom Snyder who chairs the family law section of the New Jersey State Bar Association who is in  opposition of adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates.

Here are my three comments directed at Erich and the opposition. So what if my comments are repetitious to what I’ve said before. I’ll be saying the same message until all adoptees have equal access to their sealed birth certificates and until the amended birth record is a thing of the past:

I have been fighting for my rights to my original birth certificate in NYS since 1974 when I was 18 years old and found by full blood siblings my adoptive parents did not ever want me to know. This discussion currently revolves around not-married natural parents and illegitimate adoptees and an assumption that all natural parents must hide in shame of unmarried sex. Not all adoptees are of illegitimate birth. I am a half orphan. I was born to married parents, Mom died, leaving behind a newborn and 4 other children. The Catholic Church stepped in and suggested to our father that the only way to proceed was to give up the newborn so she could have two parents and keep the others. My birth certificate was intact for the first year of my life. I lived as a foster child with my pre-adoptive parents for 9 months before my adoption was finalized, after which my birth certificate (of a legitimate birth) was sealed, and a new “amended” birth certificate was issued claiming that my new parents were my parents of birth — thus claiming they were my biological parents. My true mother of birth was stripped of her right to be my mother for all eternity — and she did not give her consent for my adoption! Her “right to privacy or confidentiality” was never in question, but her right to be my mother was obliterated. My natural father, however, signed an agreement that stated he “hereby consents to said adoption and covenants and agrees to acquiesce therein and to refrain from doing or causing to be done any act or thing whatsoever which will in any way interfere with the rights, duties and privileges of said child when so adopted.” He was never told that my birth certificate would be altered and sealed. He was verbally told to stay away from my adoptive parents but they were not told to stay away from him. Other adoptees who are forced into adoption slavery are those who were also born legitimately but were kept in foster care and freed for adoption, step-parent adoptees and full and half orphans. The full spectrum of adoptees must be considered to see the full inequality of the sealed and falsified birth certificate issue. What is needed is to replace the amended and falsified birth certificate with a Certificate of Adoption, and better yet, eliminate adoption, period. Guardianship and kinship care are far superior to the irrevocable finality and destruction of adoption. Also, keep in mind that natural parents, particularly the mothers who give birth, are forbidden any copy of a birth record — as if the birth never took place. The only reason my natural father had my birth certificate was because I was born within a marriage and adoption was not the priority at my birth — the fact that my mother was dying was the priority. Adoption as practiced in America is terribly wrong on so many levels.


Erich- Searching and Reunion have nothing to do with unsealing birth certificates.

Protecting parents who do not wish to be found is purely an American ideal. This question is not an issue in other more progressive parts of the world.

Parents who give birth, or who sire a child are obligated to be named on a birth certificate for the person they created. Those are the facts of life. Would you suggest that unmarried fathers should not be forced to take paternity suits and pay child support? These men don’t want to be found but they are found, even if they are married to someone else and have a first family.

Women whose names are on an original birth certificate factually gave birth. Removing their names from a birth certificate to “protect” them from embarrassment is fictionalizing the truth of what happened in the birth of a real person. It is also fraud.

As I stated in a previous post, my natural mother died 3 months after my birth. She did not relinquish me for adoption, my natural father did so 1month after Mom’s death. There was no shame in my birth, yet the law sealed my actual birth certificate from me and issued a false Certificate of Live Birth with the following information on it: that a woman gave birth to me, (who factually did not), that this birth was a “single” birth, that the birth took place in a designated hospital at a specific time. NONE of those facts took place. Those details were taken from my actual birth certificate and re-stated on my amended birth certificate. The mother named on my new birth certificate did not factually give birth to me, therefore, the amended Certificate of Live Birth issued one year and three months after my actual birth is factually incorrect. NO hospital records recording that mother’s labor and delivery will ever be found, yet my amended birth certificate clearly states that she gave birth to me vaginally in a single, not twin, not triplet, birth. How do you justify that, Erich?

The gov altered my identity. To be factually correct, the facts of my adoption ought to be presented on a Certificate of Adoption. But the American government has not caught on to what is done in other more progressive countries, such as The Netherlands. There, each adoptee has one and only one unsealed birth certificate, and one adoption certificate and BOTH of these documents are needed for identity purposes.

For more information, please visit my website: http// and buy my book, Forbidden Family. My adoptive mother threw my original birth certificate and adoption papers at me when I was first reunited with siblings she never wanted me to know. I have published these documents in my book. Even though I have all of my personal papers, and no other new information will be found, I am still legally banned from receiving my original birth certificate from New York State. I am 54 years old and sick of government interference in my life.


Erich- your sudden politeness and wishing “us” luck in working this out does nothing to actually change the laws, nor change public opinion. In the past as well as present, unmarried women who give birth are considered as deviants, as pointed out by Carol Whitehead. So, their illegitimate children were, and are, also considered deviants because they are illegitimate bastards, politely known as adoptees. However, as I have pointed out, many adoptees are not illegitimate, we are half and full orphans, or other legitimately-born people who were adopted out of foster care or by stepparents. Yet, as the law was written nearly 80 years ago to “legitimize” illegitimates, adoptees who were legitimately born and then adopted face misplaced stigma and discrimination. These are all moral judgments yet when one looks at the current state of affairs – pun intended or not – of unmarried couples living together and producing children, and so many divorces and remarriages giving rise to so many blended families, why is it still considered deviant behavior for adoptees to want truthful birth certificates? Many people answered your questions, Erich, now, I’m asking you to address all the points I’ve raised in my posts here. Clearly, with white Christians rushing to adopt all those black unfortunate orphans from Haiti and Africa, (and other racial children from Korea and China and South America) there are many children being removed from their families who are not orphans at all and who are not illegitimately born yet these adoptees are subject to the same mangled birth certificates as illegitimate white, domestically born, bastards. No one deserves to be mislabeled and mistreated due to the assumptions and value judgments of others. I am a legitimate half orphan bastardized by adoption. What do you say to that, Erich? How about all of you who oppose adoptees’ access to the truth of our births? How many more decades will pass before you self-righteous bigots stay out of our lives and give us back our civil rights? Just how many priests have fathered illegitimate bastard children? Is that the real reason the Catholic Church opposes adoptee access to our sealed birth certificates? Why are our birth certificates falsified at all? Why not do what other more progressive countries do – issue a Certificate of Adoption and keep both documents unsealed? 


~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, born Doris M Sippel, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.