My Response to “The twilight of closed adoptions” published by The Boston Globe

S.I. Rosenbaum wrote this sort-of good article titled, “The Twilight of Closed Adoptions.”

I say, “sort-of” because of the “birth” terms used repeatedly. When will reporters stop insulting families in this way? My father sired me, he did not birth me, therefore, he is not my “Birth father.” Stop it. Just stop it.

The research is good, interviews good, content and intent, all good. Go read it for yourself. If you feel compelled to subscribe, please do, because that is the only way you  will be able to comment. I cannot afford to subscribe, so I will comment on this article here.

“…states refused to open birth records even when petitioned by adoptees who were searching for relatives because they needed organ donors. Only recently have states begun to reverse course; Massachusetts still doesn’t give all adoptees access to birth records.

But by now, it almost doesn’t matter.”

Ah, but it does matter.

Yes, adoptees and our natural blood kin are being reunited through DNA and social media, but adoptees’ birth certificates are revoked, sealed, and replaced by false-fact birth certificates meant to simulate our real births. Except that they don’t carry real facts. In some states, even birth dates and places can be falsified.

Think about it. My current amended birth certificate states that I, Joan Wheeler, was born to D and E Wheeler. Nope. Not true. I was not born as Joan Wheeler, nor was I born to the parents named. In reality, I became Joan Wheeler one year and one week after my birth when the final court order of adoption changed my name and finalized my adoption. Three months later, New York State revoked and sealed my birth certificate, the one that is the medical record of my birth, the one that names me as Doris Michol Sippel, the daughter of G and L Sippel. Upon my adoption, New York State issued a new, amended birth certificate in the name of Joan Wheeler. Sixty years later, I legally changed my name back to my name of birth, but my legal birth certificate remains in the name of Joan, and the adoptive parents of Joan. But no where in that birth certificate is the word “adoption.”

That does not sit well with me.

To some who are eager to reunite with blood kin, fine, if reunion is all you want, then by all means, seek out social media, order your DNA kit, spit in the tube, and get your DNA. I understand your needs and wants.

I also understand the push for legislative access to sealed birth certificate because that will give adoptees knowledge of who they were born as and to whom they were born.

But for those of us who are purists, we must fight to our dying breaths to end this oppressive system that annuls our birth certificates as if our births didn’t happen, seals these documents, and then replaces them with fabricated lies.

These amended birth certificates are the condition of adoption – today and decades past – that legally severs adoptees from our blood kin forever. We are, whether born bastards or not, legitimized through legal adoption by a married mother and father. The laws were written at a time in history in when babies who were born without a legal father were considered to be born illegally – illegitimately. What better way to hide that shame by creating a new identity for such an unfortunate child?

Trouble is, children who were born within a marriage were also adopted when one or both parents died. Or when grandparents adopted their grandchildren. Or when step parents adopted their step children. And older children were adopted out of foster care.

All adopted people suffer the same identity theft perpetrated by the State – and by adoptive parents.

The State then pretends that this horrendous secret must be kept from us. Our birth certificates continue to be revoked and sealed; no matter if we have been in reunion for decades, no matter if our natural parents (Please STOP using that disgusting word “birth” mother and father) give written permission to release the sealed birth record, no matter if all natural and adoptive parents are dead.

What’s worse, States will continue to do this to every new adoptee today and tomorrow, too. It doesn’t matter if we all get our DNA tested, if we all find close or distant relatives via DNA matching, or if we search on social media, or if we search in State registries or global registries. Annulling, sealing, and replacing our birth certificates with false-fact pretend birth certificates will continue to be the default of all adoptions – closed and open – unless we change the laws.

Adoptees of color were not born to their white adoptive parents, yet their legal birth certificates state that they were. Adoptees who were born in Korea or China or Africa are issued birth certificates that state false facts that they were born to white American parents in their country of origin.

Many white adoptees can “pass” as if they were born to their white adoptive parents because the race or ethnicity is not that far off. Sure, an adoptee with dark hair and eyes won’t fit in very well with blonde, blue eyed adoptive parents, but white is white. Adoptees can “pass” as their adoptive parents children.

But “passing” is not what we should be forced to do. We should not be forced to pretend  to be someone we were not born to be.

Non-adopted people have rights to their factual birth certificates. Adopted people do not have those same rights. Our identities were changed for the sake of being adopted.

Legislation to provide access to our revoked and sealed birth certificates will only achieve access – and hopefully without compromising parental controls, permissions, and redactions. Access legislation will not stop the problem.

The problem is the law that continues to revoke, annul, cancel, rescind, invalidate and vacate the medical record of live birth. The law then seals the medical record of live birth, then refers to it as the Original Birth Certificate, and then replaces it with a piece of fiction created upon the finalization of adoption. Adoption is the process of legally appointing strangers as guardians who are assigned the title of “parents” by adoption.

Legislation must repeal, rescind, annul or replace the old laws from Victorian days with new laws that will achieve full equality of adoptees to that of non-adopted people: the right to one birth certificate, the right to name of birth, the right to parents of birth, and the right to extended family. Even when parental rights are involuntarily terminated, even when natural parents voluntarily sign surrender papers giving up their parental rights, the child has rights of identity. Adoption destroys those rights.

If three siblings are in foster care, parental rights terminated, and two siblings are adopted into separate adoptive families, the third child retains her name and birth certificate when she ages out of foster care. Meanwhile, her two siblings are required by law to be stripped of their identity rights when the State revokes and seals and replaces their birth certificates by adoption.

This legal game of pretend must end.

4 thoughts on “My Response to “The twilight of closed adoptions” published by The Boston Globe

  1. Christina Smith

    I understand both sides of this issue. I can see how it is ridiculous it is that an adoptee cannot have their original birth certificate. I can also see how an amended or “false” birth certificate can provide the adoptee protection.

    My Grandfather was adopted or handed over in 1931 in Virginia. Virginia is a closed state and my Grandfather has no birth certificate at all. He either never had one, it was lost or destroyed. His extended adpotive family tried to keep him out of the will when his adoptived parents died. He still has a lot of emotional pain (being rejected once again). Thanfully the judge ruled with my Grandpa not the adoptive family. Anyway I am trying to help him find his biological parents, but I keep running into walls between orphanages, a Dr. that would litteraly hand a newborn over to someone else. No trail at all, it’s horrifying. I have been going through news papers looking for adds, again horrifying. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.

    On the other hand my husband and I have adopted two boys from foster care. My boys were rightfully taken from their biological parents who did not care about their children. I will not go into the horrers, but they are both broken because of their biological parents. I know I am and never will be their biological Mom, on the other hand I am their Mom. We have open discussions about their biological families/siblings. Keeping everything age appropriate. I am greatful that their birth certificates are changed so my boys are protected from their biological parents and some extended family members. All that said we have told them that when they are old enough we will help them find, talk, whatever they need if they want to contact their biological parents/families.

    Adoption is not fun, it is not a happy ending. Everything about it is broken…bio parents, children, the system & even adoptive parents. We are trying standing up for our boys because their biological parents would not.

    I also have a Aunt who was adopted. She is not like my Grandfather or boys. She wants nothing to do with her biological family.

    1. An adoption decree would be able to link your grandfather from natural family to adoptive family. Unfortunately, in the old days, records were not kept uniformly. They were haphazard, and if a child was born illegitimately, society didn’t treat these births the same as births to married mothers. Bastards were treated with disrespect and disgust. So it is possible he had no birth certificate. I’m sorry for this situation. The only suggestion I have to petition the court that handled his adoption.

      I totally disagree about your adopted sons. A birth certificate records the truth of a birth. It is that person’s record of their own birth. A birth certificate does not protect anyone.

      What’s done is done. You can have your opinion, but the truth is that you are guilty of lying with two amended birth certificates for your two adopted sons. You wanted it that way for your own reasons. Law enforcement, family court, and orders of protection would be the better way to protect you and your adoptive sons from pesky blood family who want to harass or interfere or attack. I understand about horrific situations involving abuse of all sorts, and about other family members imposing themselves where they don’t belong. Those matters have absolutely nothing to do with the sacred moment of birth.

      You know that only one mother and one father conceived and birthed those two boys. Their medical record of live birth is the only document that proves who gave birth to them. No amount of justifying your actions, and the government’s actions, will change the fact that it is wrong to revoke, seal, and then replace anyone’s birth certificate with a false-fact birth certificate.

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