The Editors of The Buffalo News Approved of, and Published, My Article “Being Adopted Allowed The State To Steal My Identity”


20181116 AnotherVoice-BeingAdoptedAllowedTheStateToSealMyIdenti


NOTE: While some people may see this as controversial, the Editors of The Buffalo News approved of my article. That is why they published it.

Here is the link to the original article posted on The Buffalo News website on Thursday November 15. The print version was published on Friday November 16, 2018.

Another Voice: Being adopted allowed state to steal my identity

New York State stole my birth certificate, revoked it, sealed the facts of my birth on Jan. 7, 1956, and replaced reality with an amended birth certificate in the name of Joan Mary Wheeler, swapping out the names of my parents with the names of my adoptive parents. This new document states that I, as Joan, was born to two people who neither sired nor birthed me. These legally appointed guardians renamed me when my adoption became final on Jan. 14, 1957.

I legally reclaimed my name of birth in 2016. My adopters remain my legal parents. Joan’s birth certificate remains my legal birth certificate. Doris’ accurate birth certificate remains revoked and sealed under the 1936 state law designed to conceal verifiable facts.
I’ve owned my secret birth certificate since 1974. My adoptive mother gave my documents to me days after my natural family initiated a reunion.

Knowing that I do not have the legal right to use it, I did so anyway to reclaim my name, to update my name and parents’ names with Social Security and to obtain a driver’s license and a passport. My legal birth certificate does not match my other identity documents.

The final step for a legal name change is to send the court order of name change to Vital Statistics to update my name with the “parents of record.” If I do that, a new amended birth certificate will be issued stating that I, Doris Michol Sippel, was born to Doloris and Edward Wheeler. That amended birth certificate would be far worse than the one issued upon my adoption. At least in 1957 my adoptive identity was completely separate from my identity of birth. Complying with this last step would mean that both identities would be mixed together, and my parents’ names — Genevieve and Leonard Sippel — would not be on my birth certificate.

Does your brain hurt? Mine does.

I refuse to take this last step. I broke the law. I do not care. New York State is at fault for revoking my birth certificate, sealing it, and replacing it in 1957.

Three remedies are possible.

I petition New York State Supreme Court to update my parents’ names on a new amended birth certificate to align all of my identity documents with one another. Obviously, creating yet another amended birth certificate is illogical.

I petition the state to restore my revoked birth certificate. According to current law, this would undo my adoption and dissolve inheritance laws with my adoptive family.

The third and most realistic resolution also violates current sealed records law: Restore Doris Michol Sippel’s certificate of medical live birth, annul Joan Mary Wheeler’s amended birth certificate, and issue an adoption certificate. By doing so, the state would validate the facts of my life while not vacating my adoption. Then my brain, and my heart, would not hurt.

Doris Michol Sippel is the author of “Forbidden Family: An Adopted Woman’s Struggle for Identity.”


Real birther issue is still unresolved


Real birther issue is still unresolved

Joan Wheeler, born Doris Sippel, lives in Buffalo and thinks adoptees should have access to their birth records.

Published: June 10, 2011, 12:00 AM

President Obama recently released a copy of his long-form original birth certificate to prove that he was born in the United States. If he had been adopted, he would not be able to produce his original birth certificate for the public or even for his own viewing. By law, he would be able to obtain only an amended birth certificate.

Does this mean that adoptees are prohibited from becoming president?

I am an adoptee and I have two conflicting birth certificates.

As in all adoptions, the judge who presided over my adoption ordered my original birth certificate sealed and replaced with an amended one. The registrar of vital records switched most of my birth facts onto a new document, but the amended certificate does not contain the attending physician’s signature attesting that he

witnessed the birth. And it does not prove who my biological mother and father were.

In the aftermath of 9/11, to obtain a passport or an enhanced driver’s license, one must present documentation of birth filed within five days of birth. Many adoptees’ amended certificates were issued a year or more after birth; delayed birth certificates are not acceptable proof of birth. And amended certificates don’t prove who actually gave birth to the individual named. Adoptees cannot obtain documentation of birth and adoption because these records are sealed.

Birth records for adoptees have been sealed and altered since the 1930s to hide illegitimacy for mother and infant, and to protect adoptive parents. The adoptee rights movement began in the 1950s to change these laws. Two states never sealed records; six states have varying degrees of open records. New York has been a closed-record state since 1935.

I, like many adoptees, want unrestricted access to my original birth certificate. Adoptees are the only group of people denied access to their own birth record. This is a matter of civil rights, social inequality, personal dignity and genealogical knowledge. Non-adoptees can obtain their birth record, but adoptees cannot get theirs.

Opponents to open records claim mothers’ identities must be kept secret because they were promised confidentiality. Mothers who have lost children to adoption say that secrecy was imposed upon them. Additionally, the stigma of illegitimacy doesn’t hold true for full or half orphans (like myself) or step-parent adoptees. Adoptees say that stigma in adoption is unwarranted.

So, how did I get my short-and long-form original birth certificate if the records were sealed?

My widowed father, at the time he relinquished me, gave my birth certificates to my adoptive parents. When I turned 18, they, in turn, gave the documents to me.

Despite this, I am still legally prevented from obtaining my original birth certificate.

All amended birth certificates state the adoptee’s new name, replace the parents by birth with the names of the new parents and include most facts of the birth. A registrar of vital statistics certifies the facts are true. They are not, since no adoptee is born to the parents named on the amended certificate.

New York State adoptees are supporting passage of Senate Bill 1438 and Assembly Bill 2003, which would give adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates. This is half of the solution. For true adoptee equality, falsified amended birth certificates should be replaced with honest adoption certificates.

The Real Birther Issue

President Obama recently released a copy of his Long Form Original Birth Certificate to prove that he was born in the United States. However, if he had been born and adopted in the United States, he would not be able to produce his Original Birth Certificate for the public or even for his own viewing.  By law, he would only be able to produce an Amended Birth Certificate. 

An Amended Birth Certificate is issued at the finalization of a person’s adoption.  This “birth certificate” replaces a person’s birth name with a new name and his/her natural parents’ names/information with his adoptive parents’ names/information.  Once an Amended Birth Certificate is issued, a person is prevented by law from viewing/possessing their truthful documentation of birth.  His/her Original Birth Certificate is sealed forever.

It is discriminatory to seal an adopted person’s birth certificate and replace it with a falsified one.

“We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.” – President Barack Obama, 3/27/2011.

I have two birth certificates. I was born with one name, issued a birth certificate, and one year and one week later, my adoption was finalized. The Surrogate Court judge who presided over my adoption set in motion the legal process for my true birth certificate to be sealed and an amended birth record to be issued. The Registrar of Vital Records carried out the task of switching my birth facts onto a document which is similar, but not equal to, the form used to create non-adoptees’ original birth certificates. The law is different for all adoptees.

Before I use my own documents as examples, I must explain that while I am not legally allowed to obtain my own Long Form Original Birth Certificate because I am an adoptee in a closed record state (New York), I do have both my short and long form Original Birth Certificate, as well as my short and long form Amended Birth Certificate. Why? How?

Because at the time I was placed in my pre-adoptive parents’ care, my father who relinquished me gave my birth certificates and baptismal certificate to my pre-adoptive parents. My adoptive parents gave all of my documents, including the Final Order of Adoption, to me when I turned eighteen just after my reunion with my natural family.

As previously stated, I am still legally prevented from obtaining my Original Birth Certificate. That is a legal battle I have been fighting with other adoptees since the mid-1970s.

What do my two long form birth certificates state? The forms are similar, but different. Both have a raised seal and are signed by the Registrar.

My Original Birth Certificate states: name, date, time, city, weight, length of pregnancy, hospital, parents, single birth and not a twin or triplet, and attending physician signature. This question was asked: “How many other children are now living?” Answer: four.

My Amended Birth Certificate states my new name, and replaces my parents by birth with the names of my new parents, and includes most facts of my birth. Though the document states this mother gave birth in this hospital, no hospital records would be found for this mother. Deleted are: length of pregnancy, how many other children were living, and the attending physician’s signature.

Records are sealed and amended even in open adoptions. It is time to allow adoptees access to their true birth certificates. It is also time to replace fraudulently falsified Amended Birth Certificates with honest Adoption Certificates. Change the law.

For more information: (NYS adoptees),