February 2, 2018 – update
This post has been moved. You can read it here and under its new title: “Arguments Against Punitive and Compromising Adoptee Rights Legislation Using Cited Resources and My Sealed and Falsified Birth Certificates as Examples to Legislators to Write Equitable Legislation”.
With Governor Cuomo’s veto (that’s a good thing) of the very bad New York State Bills on December 29, 2017, this article has served its original purpose. It is no longer The Sticky Post. It has now been moved in line with chronological posts.
This post has been re-named; the former title was “Presenting My Sealed Birth Certificate and Falsified One as Evidence of New York State Fraud – Revoking, Sealing and Falsifying Adoptees’ Birth Certificates is Unconstitutional”.
Please read this with the intention of learning about why laws were changed to restrict and remove identity civil rights of adoptees. This is a guide to develop legislation that will restore to all adoptees our lost civil rights.
This was originally published on March 24, 2017.
Forty-three years ago today, on March 24 of 1974, I met my father for the first time in my life of 18 years. On that day, my father gave photographs to me of my deceased mother, her death certificate, and her obituary from the newspaper with the names of her five children – I was her youngest.
I had a name when I was born. I had a birth certificate and a baptismal certificate. But then, adoption happened. I became someone else.
There is nothing I want more than for my government to tell the truth. I demand the restoration of my true birth certificate – the one that certifies my birth as it happened on January 7, 1956. I demand that my parents be reinstated as my parents by the very government that annulled my medical record of live birth. This demand extends to all New York State and all American adoptees who have been victimized by archaic laws that stole our natural-born identities.
- Doris Michol Sippel
This paper was originally written in response to the “Adoptee Bill of Rights” A02901C and S05964B and the amendments made to these identical bills in 2015.
There is quite a bit of discrepancy between information given out by the two existing adoptee-rights organizations in New York State. Unsealed Initiative posted a note on their website that the Assembly Bill A5036  has been “introduced without change from last year’s amended bill…same as Senate Bill S4845  sponsored by [Andrew J.] Lanza.” Assemblyman David Weprin introduced A5036 on February 6, 2017.
NY Adoptee Equality announced on Monday March 13, 2017, that a new bill was introduced by New York State Senator Tony Avella, Senate Bill S5169.  Then, Assembly Bill A06821  was introduced by Assemblyman David Weprin on March 21, 2017. Both bills are identical and would require “the commissioner of the department of health to issue non-certified copies of the original long form birth certificates to adoptees who request such copy within forty-five days after the receipt of such request.” These bills would also allow the descendants of the adoptee to apply.
Aside from the fact that the two existing adoptee-rights organizations disseminate different information, adoptees and the general public are not well-informed about these legislative actions. This should be announced to the public through the news media. But it is assumed that the rights of adoptees are not important enough to be news worthy.
The old “Adoptee Bill of Rights” with new numbers A5036 and S4845 must be killed outright. This article will explain why.
The new Senate Bill S5169 and Assembly Bill A06821 address the rights of adoptees without including any parental controls and they provide for the descendants of the adoptee to apply. These two provisions should be applauded. But these bills are now being publicized as “clean bills” by NY Adoptee Equality. As good as the new bills are, S5169 and A06821 do not go far enough because these bills call for the release of information-only uncertified birth certificates. If information is all you want, then that is all you might get. And don’t forget, the opposition has fought against adoptee-access to sealed records for over 20 years. They might tack on parental permission amendments, just as they did in 2015.
I stand by my statements and proof in this article that no bill is “a clean bill” unless it completely restores adoptees’ full identity rights to certified copies of our accurate birth certificates. Here is why:
Revoking, sealing and then falsifying adoptees’ birth certificates is integral to the adoption process by federal guidelines established in 1930. New York State began revoking, sealing and falsifying birth certificates of adoptees in 1935. This law should be repealed, along with all tentacles of law connected with it in vital statistics, public health, domestic relations, and adoption. These laws should be replaced by reality-based documentation of live birth as applied to all other American citizens who are not adopted. This would immediately restore to New York State adopted citizens full identity rights to our certified medical record of live birth, annulling falsified birth certificates, reestablishing adoptees full equality under the law to non-adopted citizens – a right we had prior to 1935.
Under a 1930 Federal Model Law, New York State Began Revoking, Sealing and then Replacing Birth Certificates of Adoptees in 1935
In June 2016, at the age of 60, I legally reclaimed my name that should have been mine since birth. New York State changed my name when I was 15 months old in compliance with a 1935 State law that revokes, seals, and replaces birth certificates of adopted people. But I still do not have the legal right to unseal and obtain a certified copy of my accurate birth certificate.
Prior to 1930, American adoptees had the civil right to their accurate birth certificate, just like everyone else. Since 1930, all States began to modify laws when a National Conference of State Registrars of Vital Statistics proposed a model law requiring that adoptees’ birth certificates be replaced with amended birth certificates that combine information from court-ordered adoption with some facts of birth. Masquerading as live-birth certificates, these documents were, and still are, issued by every State’s Health Department, Office of Vital Statics, even though parents’ names were swapped and the child’s name was changed. Mimicking documentation of a biological birth assured that the actual parents were erased, adoptees would never know the truth, and adopters could conceal the adoption.
National Adoptees’ Rights Groups Began in the 1950s; New York State’s Activists Work on “Adoptee Bill of Rights” for Over 20 Years
Adopted people have tried to change public opinion since the mid-1950s and lobbied for access to sealed records since the mid-1970s, with little progress. Many thought it would be impossible to put an end to revoking, sealing, and replacing birth certificates, so access was all they fought for. I never gave up the fight that one day adoptees would not be mandated into false identities.
In my home State of New York, two decades of work between activists and supportive legislators produced the “Adoptee Bill of Rights” that would release certified copies of adoptees’ sealed birth certificates. Activists know that a minority of mothers-of-adoption-loss are so traumatized that they cannot face their grown offspring. This is why a contact preference form – a legal contract that would be enforceable – was included into the original New York State bill to protect parents from interference if they do not want contact. At the same time, these parents would have no right to interfere with adoptees’ right to obtain a copy of their sealed birth certificate.
The June 2015 Legislative Amendments and How They Would Effect Adoptees
Exactly 24 hours before the vote in June 2015, legislators decided that was not enough. They added identical amendments to the Assembly and Senate bills with disclosure and contact vetoes to protect the supposed rights to confidentiality of mothers-in-hiding.
Adoptee activists nicknamed these conditional amendments to what were adoptee-rights bills as “Mother-May-I?” bills. If passed, adopted people aged 18-to-100 will be required to obtain written permission from our unknown parents-of-adoption-loss, and adopters, before a certified copy of our sealed birth certificates will be released to each adopted petitioner. State Supreme Court-appointed confidential intermediaries will arrange supervised meetings at the court only if parents agree to meet their now-adult adopted-out daughter or son. If our parents wish to remain anonymous, they will have the right to redact their names from the released document. If parents do not respond, then an un-redacted birth certificate will be issued. If the State Supreme Court judge determines that the release of the sealed birth certificate will be “detrimental to the welfare” of the parents or the adopters, then an informational summary will be released to the adoptee. It is unclear what will happen if both parents are deceased. Some States require that adoptees provide a death certificate to prove that their unknown parents have died.
Why Activists Protest These Amendments
New York State’s mothers-of-adoption-loss who are activists protested by providing proof in the form of actual signed surrender documents that carried no such promised confidentiality in print. To which I will add that signed relinquishment removes all parental rights but does not erase parents’ names from their child’s birth certificate. Assigning parental power where none exists invalidates the right of children to become autonomous adults at the age of majority. No parent has legal authority over an adult offspring, nor has the right to redact their name from their child’s birth certificate. Mothers-in-hiding claim they should be granted rights that they never had.
After relinquishment, adoption agencies and attorneys are under no obligation to tell parents whether or not their child was adopted, or lived in ten different foster homes, or died at age four. Many surrendered children live with other relatives, legal guardians, or in foster care until they age-out of the system. These children keep their birth certificates, even if they were removed from abusive parents whose rights were involuntarily terminated.
Whether parental rights were terminated by a court, signed under duress, or voluntarily relinquished, the outcome is the same. Surrendering a child does not revoke, seal, nor replace a child’s birth certificate with a new one. The only legal process that results in a person’s total loss of identity of birth is court-ordered adoption.
These points are lost on mothers-of-adoption-loss who are in hiding. They do not want their names revealed to their now-grown offspring or their secret shame exposed to others. Even people who support these mothers, including some legislators, are not aware of these details.
Some raped mothers or victims of incest want confidentiality, but again, signed relinquishment removes all parental rights and does not guarantee confidentiality or anonymity. The pain of rape and incest should not force us as adoptees to lose our identity. The place to take emotional pain is therapy, not discriminatory legislation. Mothers-in-hiding need to accept that a medical record of live birth records the facts of birth of a new human being whether conceived within a marriage, by teenage love, an affair with a married man, a priest, a well-known public figure, a known or unknown rapist, a brother, father or uncle incest perpetrator. Perhaps these mothers are more afraid of repercussions when the father’s name is exposed than they are of meeting their own daughter or son. Maybe the fathers of some adoptees don’t want to be known so they fight adoptee-access legislation.
The belief that adoptees should be forever banned from knowing the truth for fear of “ruining” our mothers’ lives by revealing their terrible secrets assigns the stigma of bastardy to all adoptees. Those who were born illegitimately should not be punished for how they were conceived. But not all adoptees were born bastards. Many children were, and are, removed from married parents due to abuse or neglect and then adopted, sometimes more than once with each adoption creating a new birth certificate. Other children are kidnapped from their families, trafficked, and sold into black market adoption rings. Sibling groups are often split apart by adoption when one or both parents died, leaving the children half or full orphans; this happened in my family when our mother died three months after my birth. Many poor families are forced to give up the last child born to survive. Numerous children today are adopted by step parents, grandparents, or other family members so it is ludicrous to re-name these children, revoke and seal their birth records, create new birth certificates for them, and then impose “Mother-May-I?” legislation on them as adults.
Foundlings may be the only children who need a legal family construct. Infants who are found on doorsteps, in dumpsters, or left in baby drop boxes typically do not have a birth certificate. They are issued a foundling certificate which approximates the date of birth and the baby is named by the person who finds the child. Once adopted, foundlings, too, are re-named by their adopters and are issued a falsified birth certificate instead of an adoption certificate. In the past, it was nearly impossible to locate the mothers of foundlings. Today, we go after putative fathers for child support using DNA, so mothers who abandon their infants could be found through DNA and hospital records.
Criminals who are imprisoned for life never lose their civil right to their birth certificates. Felons who were executed had the right to die as themselves. Adopted people, however, are stripped of a civil right for life, and death, because of one reason only: adoption.
Adopted people are treated as and made to feel like criminals for even asking about our roots. Staff at vital statistics offices glare at us, and then sneer that we have no right to our sealed birth certificates, as if our documents contain top secret information that would destroy the world if revealed. Adoption agencies often tell us our records were burned in a fire. Society demands that we feel “grateful” for having been adopted. We are told we were “better off” and should not “open Pandora’s Box”. This stigma has been passed down through the generations that adoptees should never know the truth.
There is no reason we should live with this stigma today.
Intertwining and complex laws govern vital statistics, public health, domestic relations and adoption. These laws require all individuals who are adopted (including those in socially-open, in-family, intercountry, and adult adoptions) to lose our medical records of live birth when reassigned a new birth certificate, complete with a new legal family construct, as if our lives prior to adoption never existed. Our children carry our false names as will our death certificates.
It is still considered legal throughout the United States to revoke and seal a person’s birth certificate and then create a completely new one. Only Kansas and Alaska do not seal adoptees’ birth certificates, but continue to revoke and replace them. Why is adoption reason enough to remove adoptees’ right to our birth certificates, our names, our parents, our siblings, our medical and genetic information, and our genealogy? Intercountry adoptees lose nationality, culture, and language as well.
Comparing My Factually Accurate Medical Record of Live Birth with My Falsified Birth Certificate
Using my own factual birth certificate and falsified birth certificate as a comparison, I will prove the difference between a medical record of live birth and a falsified birth certificate issued after court-ordered adoption.
The first document is my hospital birth certificate signed by the attending physician and the hospital administrator.
Parents’ names on all documents redacted by author.
The medical record of live birth is signed by the attending physician and the local registrar of vital statistics. A registered number is typed in at the upper right hand corner of both the short form birth registration and the long form medical record of live birth.
This is my Birth Registration, also called a Short Form Birth Certificate.
This is my Medical Record of Live Birth, also called a Long Form Birth Certificate.
SIGNATURE OF ATTENDANT: “I hereby certify that I attended the birth of this child who was born alive on the date stated above at 12:55am”.
The hand-written number above-left of the registered number indicates that this is the 766th certificate issued that year to date.
The 3-page Decree and Order of Adoption names my adopters and my father, and sets in motion my legal name change. Both parties knew each other, met in court several times, and had exchanged addresses and phone numbers. My adoptive father was a distant cousin to my newly-deceased mother. This was an in-family private adoption. The records were closed as if we were strangers.
When a child is adopted, a similar, but different, birth certificate form is used. It appears the same in every way, except for a few details. The registered number follows the child to adoption and appears in the upper right hand corner of the amended birth certificate (my short form does not have the registered number). Some medical information is included, such as birth date, time, place, single or twin or triplet birth, and name of hospital. The birth weight, gestation in weeks of pregnancy, tests and medications given to the “mother” and newborn are not included because this woman did not give birth, nor was this re-named child actually born. This child was created upon the finalization of adoption, but that fact is not indicated anywhere on this document. Some States allow adopters to change the city, state, and birth date as well. There is no line for the attending physician’s signature because this “birth” never took place. When the State Director of Vital Statistics in the State capital creates a birth certificate by swapping in the information from the final court order of adoption, she or he then signs it, and affixes the State’s raised seal, certifying false facts as true. The State Director of Vital Statistics is authorized to lie. If anyone else gives false information on a government form, that is perjury.
This is the amended “birth” registration issued in my adopted name.
The Certificate Number indicates that this is the 2760th certificate issued that year to date. This “birth” registration and the following “birth” certificate were created and issued on March 4, 1957 – fifteen months after Doris’ actual birth. The “file dates” are the dates that Doris’s, not Joan’s, birth certificate and birth registration were filed locally and in t he state capital, yet this “birth” registration states “registered certificate of said person”. The SAID PERSON named on THIS “birth” registration was not born on January 7, 1956 – Joan was created on the date of the signing of the Final Order of Adoption on January 14, 1956 and Joan’s “birth” certificate was issued on March 4, 1957.
The following document is Joan Mary Wheeler’s Amended – Falsified – “Birth” Certificate.
No attending physician’s signature, only the signature of the state’s registrar at bottom. This mother did not conceive, nor give birth to Joan. There are no hospital records of this “birth” because it did not happen. This father did not sire Joan. The only document that documents this truth is the court order of adoption. Joan was not born; she was created when legally adopted on January 14, 1957. This birth certificate was issued 15 months after Doris’ real birth, yet it claims that Joan was born on Doris’s birth date and at the exact same time in the same hospital and that this was a single birth. THIS IS LEGAL FICTION.
This, of course, creates lies on religious documents as well. Joan Wheeler’s baptism never happened. Joan did not exist on the date of the baptism listed on her certificate. Note that the Sponsors remain the same on both documents. They are Doris’s Aunt and Uncle.
New York State’s Amended “Adoptee Bill of Rights” is Eerily Similar to Compromise Laws in Seven States that Produced Devastating Results
New York State’s amended “Adoptee Bill of Rights” have been given new numbers for the 2017-2018 session, A5036 and S4845. These are conditional adoptee access bills favoring the supposed rights of mothers to confidentiality.
I will continue here by highlighting what happened in other states when conditional adoptee access laws were passed.  We do not need nor want the same thing to happen in New York.
Illinois’s conditional access law left about 50 adoptees completely locked out from their sealed records. Adoptee Triona Guidry wrote about her experiences being born in Illinois and adopted in Ohio (where her adoption records are kept), under the control of a confidential intermediary, a contact veto, and forever banned from ever obtaining a copy of her forever-sealed birth certificate. Her blog posts provide valuable insight into the pitfalls of compromise legislation.
In her post, “Case Closed! Another Adoptee becomes A Confidential Intermediary Statistic,” (May 19, 2008) http://www.73adoptee.com/2008/05/case-closed-another-adoptee-becomes-a-confidential-intermediary-statistic/ Triona Guidry tells of her lengthy involvement with the Illinois Confidential Intermediary program, from the years 2000 to 2008. At first, her application was rejected even though she was born in Illinois, “because the program ‘does not have a procedure’ for out-of-state adoptees.” She exhausted her own resources, hired a lawyer, and worked with the program “to prepare a procedure for out-of-state adoptees”. Once again, an adoptee had to educate state employees, and other so-called professionals, on how policy and procedures effect adoptees. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Once her application was accepted, Triona had to pay “a registration fee and separate fees for each search” (one for the CI to contact her mother and one for the CI to contact her father).
Triona Guidry writes of many discrepancies in the Illinois Confidential Intermediary program, including pointing out that CI program “deliberately discourages participants and contacted relatives from signing up with the state registry” presumably to “ensure a steady supply of paying clients. The state registry is free … the CI program costs hundreds of dollars.” CI programs refuse “to disclose the search steps taken on participants’ behalf” leaving adoptees wondering if they received what they paid for. Contact Intermediary programs refuse “to disclose their standard written policies and procedures.” Triona’s CI accidentally disclosed her identifying information to her mother and then refused to “provide official written notification of said disclosure,” providing no official accountability violating the adoptee’s privacy. Finally, Triona tells us that CI programs “charge[s] to re-open cases, with no way for participants to know what has or has not been done on their behalf.”
Triona closes her blog post with these words,
“This is sheer insanity. People say adoptees have more psychological issues than non-adoptees. If we do, maybe they’re imposed on us by situations like this! … This started as a simple request for my records. Twelve years later, the adoption industry has turned me into a vocal advocate for adoptee rights. It’s ironic that if the records weren’t sealed, there wouldn’t be people like me publicly questioning the adoption industry’s more dubious practices.”
In “Leaving Adoptees Behind: My Experience At The Illinois HB 5428 Hearing,” (April 15, 2010) http://www.73adoptee.com/2010/04/leaving-adoptees-behind-my-experience-at-the-illinois-hb-5428-hearing/ Triona Guidry writes,
“Senator Wilhelmi started off by expounding on all the “good” Sara Feigenholtz has done for adoptee rights and what an honor it’s been to work with her. Everyone sees her as a “champion” of adoptee rights, except those of us left behind by her compromises. Then he turned it over to Feigenholtz who talked about “wearing her heart on her sleeve” and “begging for human rights.” She whined about being called a “traitor to the Adoption Reform Movement” but felt that she was striking a balance by honoring the voice of the majority. Small consolation to those in the minority.”
“For those of you reading, if you don’t already know: I am in that minority. My birth mother has filed the denial of contact. So hearing that it’s okay for people like me to be left out so others can have access does not sit well with me. And I speak as someone who used to believe that intermediaries were the answer, that compromise was necessary and fair, until I got screwed by the process and realized that it’s really all about politics, influence, and making money off adoption records access. All of this became even more clear to me as I sat and listened to the committee meeting.”
When I met Sara Feigenholtz at the American Adoption Congress’s international conference in Cleveland, Ohio in 2013, she was more concerned about speaking of her role in achieving “success” in contributing to the effort to pass a compromise bill into law than she was in acknowledging that such compromises have had detrimental and lifelong effects on certain adoptees who are denied their rights. When our elected politicians use their positions to gloat about their own accomplishes, even when those accomplishments are clearly biased and limited in scope, I am left fearing the same thing will happen in New York State. Legislators must completely understand the ramifications of the bills they support. Listening and watching the live-stream of New York State’s hearings, however, it is painfully obvious that many legislators have little to no comprehension of the issues at hand. Compromise legislation is not a “step in the right direction” to provide adoptees our rights, yet, many legislators parrot these words in their voting support for a harmful bill.
In his February 7, 2017 blog post, “The Missing Asterisks of Adoptee Rights,” http://gregoryluce.com/blog/missing-asterisks-adoptee-rights/ adoptee Gregory D. Luce tells us that Indiana’s conditional access law was signed in 2016 with some adoptee access allowed in 2018, but many adoptees born within a specific time frame will not receive their birth certificate or information at all. Missouri’s Adoptee Rights Act, which took effect in August of 2016, presents similar problems. New Jersey’s limited access law went into effect in January 2017, leaving behind 550 adoptees who are permanently closed out of their sealed records.
State laws are now being passed that favor protection of parental confidentiality over adoptee rights. This approach is sweeping the country, even though an additional seven States provide unrestricted access (no parental controls) to information-only sealed birth certificates.
Imagine if YOUR Birth was Deemed Invalid by Your Government
As in the handful of other States that have released uncertified sealed birth certificates without the state raised seal and current registrar’s signature, New York State’s certified documents will be released with a statement stamped across the front such as “VOID” or “Not For Official Use” or “For Genealogical Purposes Only” or “Pre-Adoption Birth Certificate”. At the end of the legislative session in 2016, an assistant at the office of the bill’s sponsor, New York State Assemblyman, David Weprin, admitted that there had been no decision on what words would appear on New York State-released sealed birth certificates. Don’t let his answer fool you; even though the “Adoptee Bill of Rights” stated “certified birth certificates” will be released, no citizen can hold two certified birth certificates at the same time. Authorities believe that would give adoptees the chance to commit fraud with a second identity.
Second Identity? That “second identity” was given to us at birth, but stolen by our government.
Adoptee Rudy Owens writes of his feelings upon seeing a word stamped three times across the front of his released-but-still-sealed birth certificate in his blog post, “Getting what has always been mine–my original birth certificate.” (July 29, 2016)
“On July 18, 2016, the sheet of paper, with a legal stamp from the state registrar, finally arrived in my mailbox. Vital Records at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made sure to remind me that I am a bastard by placing in large capital letters “SEALED” three times on the copy of my original birth certificate–an act not required by state law. I was stunned looking at the copy of my original birth certificate. The state had given me a final insult by writing three times in big bold letters, “SEALED,” as a reminder I was still a bastard and not a normal person. But underneath that insulting bureaucratic graffiti that purportedly protected the well-being of the state and its residents were all the facts I already had known for three decades. The only new information I found on the document was the full name of the attending physician, who helped to safely bring me into this world one spring day in Detroit, Michigan, many years ago.”
Rudy Owens also addresses the denial of his civil rights,
“… All my life, I was classified by law as being undeserving of this record, unlike all-non-adopted state residents, simply because I was relinquished as an infant to become an adoptee. The only reason—and I repeat only reason—I now have possession of what is and always has been mine is because I never once recognized the legal or moral authority of the state’s so-called vital records professionals to deny me equal treatment and equal status by law.”
If New York State were to ever issue my accurate birth certificate to me with any words stamped over the front to invalidate the document itself, I would be horrified. Yet, this is exactly what would happen if the old “Adoptee Bill of Rights” A5036 and S4845 or the new Senate Bill S5169 and Assembly Bill A06821 were to be passed into law.
It is bad enough that I was born in America – The Land of the Free – where my home state decided that my birth was not worthy to be officially certified so it revoked my birth certificate, essentially annulling my birth, and replaced the document with a fabrication. But to issue a non-certified copy and stamp words on the front to be sure adoptees do not use the document as identification, is yet another insult.
Most adoptees are not as lucky as I was to have had a certified copy of their now-revoked-and-sealed birth certificate preserved over the years. Thank goodness my father, in his grief, gave my papers to my adopters when he gave me to them in 1956 after my mother died. I have owned a certified copy of my accurate birth certificate since 1974 when my adoptive mother gave my documents to me. What I’ve wanted ever since is for my government to reinstate the validity of my birth.
Imagine if YOUR birth was deemed invalid by your government; that your name is not your name, that your parents are not your parents and that replacements have not only been assigned, but certified as true.
Segregating Bastards from Non-Bastards, Adoptees from Non-Adoptees, by Laws Written Only for this Segment of the Population is Systemic Discrimination
State laws followed a federal guideline in 1930 as a legal internment against a certain population based solely upon the condition of being born bastards. That was a time in history when it was thought that concealing illegitimacy was the best course of action to avoid stigma by creating new identities, legitimizing the illegitimate. But it was an illusion. Those laws now continue to use that supposed stigma against us, even when many adoptees were not born as bastards. Segregating bastards from non-bastards, adoptees from non-adoptees, by laws written only for this segment of the population is discrimination. Drastic measures were taken from 1930 onward to conceal bastardy. Now drastic measures must be taken to put an end to systemic discrimination against adoptees.
Access to Our Sealed Documents Does Not Solve the Real Problem Because Our Falsified Birth Certificates Will Still Remain Viably Operable as Required by Existing Law
Equal treatment and equal status under the law is more than receiving a copy of a still-sealed document with a government stamp across the front. Mere access to our sealed documents does not solve the real problem because our falsified birth certificates will still be the only ones that remain viably operable as required by existing law. All access laws are conditional, even the ones with no parental controls.
Access-Only Bills Do Not Go Far Enough; Repeal and Replace the 1935 Law that Revokes, Seals and Replaces Birth Certificates of Adoptees
There must be no compromise with mothers who think this is about reunion. Searching and reunification are part of the equation for some, yes, but the underlying issue is the blatant disregard for our birthrights.
As I stated in the summary, the “Adoptee Bill of Rights” A5036 and S4845 must be killed. And, as good as the new bills S5169 and A06821 are, they do not go far enough. These bills call for the release of information-only uncertified birth certificates. If information is all you want, then that is all you might get. And don’t forget, the opposition has fought against adoptee-access to sealed records for over 20 years. They might tack on parental permission amendments to these supposedly “clean” bills too.
It is time to wipe the slate clean. Stop the production assembly-line of revoking, sealing and replacing birth certificates of all New York State adopted people and restore to all adoptees our full identity rights to certified copies of our accurate birth certificates.
During the Assembly Floor Debate on June 18, 2015, adoptee and former Assemblyman (who is now Council Member in Staten Island) Mr. Joseph Borrelli stated on page 18 of the transcript , “I should own my birth certificate and frankly not be given a fraudulent government document…” He touched on the main issue, but did not expand upon it.
The 1935 New York State law that revoked, sealed and replaced adoptees’ birth certificates should be repealed, along with all tentacles of law connected with it in vital statistics, public health, domestic relations, and adoption. These laws should be replaced by reality-based documentation of live birth as applied to all other American citizens who are not adopted.
“Adoptee Identity Rights Restoration” Needs to be Written into New York State Law as well as United States Constitutional Law
An estimated seven to ten million adopted American citizens demand full rights restoration to our certified medical record of live birth so we can reclaim ourselves as we were born to be and use our accurate birth certificates as identification just as non-adopted people do. We will not settle for compromised rights with hand-holding to mothers-in-hiding as if all adoptees are bastards to be hidden away for pretty-please restricted access to a summary, redacted, or an uncertified copy of our “pre-adoption birth certificate”. Adoptees’ birth certificates should never be revoked, sealed, nor replaced. Adopters (straight or gay) should not be given the upper hand to call the shots as to whose names appear on the birth certificate as mother and father, or mother and mother, or father and father. Adoptees are autonomous beings, not possessions. We should not lose our birth certificate, nor be assigned a new name and new parents, in exchange for a home, if we truly need one. Today’s adoptions “build families” rather than provide homes for children in need.
The changes I am proposing would provide for several situations. Adoptees who are not interested do not have to file. Those who choose to obtain an information-only uncertified copy of their medical record of live birth while keeping their adopted name and falsified birth certificate could do so, or they could also request to annul their amended birth certificate and replace it with an adoption certificate. Many adoptees, however, want to reclaim their name of birth, just as I have done. Thousands of adoptees across the United States and the world have already done so via court order, but we still do not have the civil right to unseal our birth certificates to obtain a certified copy and use it as identification. This is why adoptees are not equal under the law to non-adopted people.
In the legal process of reclaiming my name, I spoke with an attorney who cautioned me against obtaining the legal right to completely unseal and certify my medical record of live birth. He said that action would invalidate my amended birth certificate and annul my adoption, which he thought was a bad idea. Defending the decisions made by adults at the time, the attorney claimed that their decisions should stay as originally intended. He missed the point that adoptees’ medical record of live birth should stay as originally intended.
Adoptees are ignored in the adoption transaction. State laws violate the constitutional rights of every single adopted person in the United States. What further proof is needed to see that revoking, sealing and then falsifying adoptees’ birth certificates is integral to the adoption process? The legal structure of adoption requires the obliteration of the adoptee’s identity and family when a new one is created. Would adopters adopt if they were required by law to respect a child for who she is and who her parents are, that they have no right to re-name a child or to replace parents’ names on a government falsified replacement birth certificate?
Moving forward, let 2017 be the last year of secrets and lies. From now on, reality-based documentation of live birth will provide all citizens their identity rights. Take away revoked, sealed, and falsified birth certificates from adoption and the resulting legal process is custodial guardianship. Guardianship preserves a person’s right to name of birth, the medically-factual live-birth certificate, and family of birth, even when parental rights are terminated.
“Adoptee Identity Rights Restoration” needs to be written into New York State law as well as United States constitutional law. Let America lead the way for adoptee freedom worldwide.
- “An act to amend the domestic relations law and the public health law, in relation to adoptee rights,” New York Assembly Bill A5036 (2017)https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/a5036/amendment/original Text of Bill A5036 in PDF http://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2017/A5036
- “An act to amend the domestic relations law and the public health law, in relation to adoptee rights,” New York State Senate Bill S4845 (2017) https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s4845/amendment/original Text of Bill in PDF http://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2017/S4845
- “An Act to amend the public health law, in relation to issuing non-certified copies of original long form birth certificates to adoptees,” New York State Senate Bill S05169A (2017) http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&leg_video=&bn=S05169&term=2017&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
- “Relates to requiring the commissioner of the department of health to issue non-certified copies of the original long form birth certificates to adoptees who request such copy within forty-five days after receipt of such request,” New York State Assembly Bill A06821 (2017) http://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&leg_video=&bn=A06821&term=2017&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
- “An act to amend the public health law, the public welfare law, the judiciary law, the domestic relations law, the inferior criminal courts act of New York City, and the Greater New York charter, in relation to records of birth,” Chapter 854, 1779-1790, Laws of New York, Vols. 1-2 1779 (1936).
- “1930: Birth Records of Illegitimates and of Adopted Children,” Sheldon L. Howard, Illinois State Registrar of Vital Statistics, and Henry B. Hemenway, Medical Assistant Registrar, Vital Statistics Division, Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield, Illinois, read before the Vital Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association (1930-10-30) originally published in The American Journal Public Health Nations Health (1931-6-21) (6): 641–647. https://forbiddenfamily.com/1930-birth-records-of-illegitimates-and-of-adopted-children/ And, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1556353/
- “An act to amend the domestic relations law and the public health law, in relation to adoptee rights,” New York State Assembly Bill A02901C, Bill Summary and Text, (2015) http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A02901&term=2015&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
- Adoptee Access Laws, State Legislation, American Adoption Congress, (2016) http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/state.php
- Joseph Borrelli, quoted from transcript of New York State Assembly Floor Debate and Vote, Bill A2901a, An act to amend the domestic relations law and the public health law, (June 18, 2015) page 18 http://www.unsealedinitiative.org/assets/images/A2901a_061815.pdf