Illegitimacy Not the Only Cover-up in Sealed and Falsified Birth Certificates

Sealed and Falsified Birth Certifciates are not only an “unwed mother’s and her illegitimate child’s” issue, this is an issue for widows, widowers, and their half-orphaned children, and stepparents who adopt step children and children from married parents who are relinquished.

The original intent of the current American system of sealed and falsified birth certificates was started with an idea in 1929 and became a model state law in 1930, upon which individual states voted. Most voted to seal and falsify birth certificates for adoptees to protect the unwed mother’s reputation and to give the adoptee a chance to be “legitimized” by virtue of a new, amended birth certificate. See: Family Matters, Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption by E. Wayne Carp, 1998, and The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records, Rutgers Law Review, by Elizabeth J. Samuels, 2001.

This protection of the illegitimate child’s legal legitimization morphed into protection of the adopting couple in recent decades.

But people forget that real half and full orphans are adopted. We come from legitimate births, our birth certificates and our births do not need to be legitimized, and our parents are not sinners. This is not an attack on actual illegitimate adoptees and their natural parents, I am simply pointing out facts for the benefit of others.

Half and full orphans, adopted step children, and other children born within a marriage are still subject to the full impact of adoption: their legitimate births are legitimized by the process of the sealing their original birth certificates and falsifying new birth certificates to simulate legitimate births through the process of adoption. Consequently, our married natural parents are now belittled by the process originally meant to target unwed mothers and their illegitimate children.

Sealed and falsified birth certificates presume illegitimacy and the false premise of protection of the unwed mother’s reputation, when, in fact, these are outdated morals and principles. Adoptive parents these days want the protection for themselves to keep the adoptee and natural parents under control and to preserve the adoptive family unit.

Access to Adoptees’ Birth Certificates is Not Enough to Break the Cycle

There’s an incredible discussion about Cully Ray’s and Mara Rigge’s Idea for Change in America at the website:

Go there to vote in favor of true Open Records for Adoptees. Read the comments and add your own!


My last comment there was this:

If you doubt just how deeply Christian thought is entrenched in adoption, a close look at the Missionaries from Idaho in Haiti, is in order. Just a few adoptees’ blogs will indicate the destruction done by Christian adoptors of orphans:

Keep this in mind: the law behind the present system of documenting births and adoptions for adoptees in America was begun in 1930 under the guise of “protecting” illegitimate children from learning embarrassing facts about how they came to be, therefore, the justification for making “new” birth certificates for adoptees was the idea of lifting them up from the status of a less-valued birth to that of being adopted “anew”. 

I must be the only ORPHAN to speak out because I have yet to hear any other HALF OR FULL ORPHAN born of married parents to oppose being held in this category. Please understand, I do not say this as a weapon against my fellow adoptees who are of unmarried parents. 

This is a degrading system of recording births and adoption based purely upon the moral judgment of the Registrars who wrote this law in 1930. I do not like being categorized into something I am not. My fellow adoptees shouldn’t be in this socially-constructed trap, either. We have been humiliated by these horrendous society judgments far too long. Lift us up and into a free society. Give us back our dignity and civil rights to our real birth certificates.

And for god’s sake, stop religious fanatics from adopting children. To missionaries like Laura Silsby, children are adoptable only because they (the missionaries and other religious fanatic adoptors) think that they are doing “god’s work”. The end result (not going into all the other issues in adoption here) is that all orphans (half and full, and even the ones who are not orphans at all) will suffer the same fate as their illegitimate counterparts in adoption: their birth certificates will be sealed and a new falsified one will be issued.

Asking for Access to our sealed Original Birth Certificates, alone, is not enough to break the cycle and change public view of adoptees. We must break this cycle and promote an end to the humiliating process of incorrectly documenting adoptees’ births and adoptions by sealed and falsified birth certificates. Demand an Adoption Certificate to replace Falsified Birth Certificates.


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