Thursday’s editorial in The Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate couldn’t have said it better: “Give adoptees their birth certificates.”
It made my heart sing to flip the page and see the headline (extra points to the editorial writer for not referring to adopted people as children). And once I read it, and saw that the editorial board understands the issue, I started to happy dance.
“We all deserve to know our own story,” the piece says, referencing the current bill in Hartford that would provide all adoptees born in Connecticut with access to their original birth certificates.
Indeed. But for most adoptees like me, born in the era of closed records, it is illegal to get our original birth certificates. Only nine states in the U.S. allow adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. Everywhere else, documents that were sealed at the time of adoption remain so. Instead, adoptees have revised birth certificates that list an adoptees’ adoptive parents rather than the people who conceived them. This policy was meant originally to spare adoptees the stigma of illegitimacy but in practice serves to keep adoptees in the dark about their origins, ethnicity and medical history.
In short, we remain second-class citizens in the eye of the law — an irony given how quickly DNA testing is connecting people these days.
Kudos to Connecticut, where I live, for trying to change this inequity. New York, where I was born, is considering a similar bill for the umpteenth time. I fervently hope this is the year it finally succeeds. That’s because simple piece of paper represents validation — a chance to finally know our truth.
The Stamford Advocate-Greenwich Time editorial notes that unsealing records remains a divisive issue. It shouldn’t be. We’ve moved on from the dark ages of secrets and lies that were the hallmark of mid-century adoptions. It’s time the law catches up with that reality.