In my previous blog, I outlined the history of sealing Original Birth Certificates (OBC) and the implications this practice has for adoptees and their families. For many of us involved in adoption (myself included), we don’t know what we don’t know. And, while it may be too late for some to get that critical documentation, there are still ways that you can now help your child, and other adoptees, to prevent this erasure of their information and loss of identity.
If adoption papers have yet to be signed, you can still obtain your child’s original birth certificate or at least a copy by requesting it through their social worker.
If you are a foster parent, request it anyway and put it with their paperwork so you can ensure that their OBC stays with them in case they cannot return home.
Save all paperwork concerning your child’s placement. Any files requested after finalization may be remanded with identifying or sensitive information blacked out.
If you are an adoptive parent or an adoptee, you can go to www.adopteerightslaw.org to read more about the specific laws in your state concerning the sealing of OBCs to work towards obtaining an OBC.
You can also read more on how to access OBCs and birth records here
You can google legislation in your state or follow along here
As a citizen with voting power, you can help advance legislation in your state to help open up OBCs to adoptees as a citizen by voting for legislation and politicians who are in favor of Adoptee Human Rights.
You can also reach out to any of the non-profits or social justice groups listed here to ask where your efforts can best be used.
You can financially support non-profits or organizations that are working towards making OBCs available to all adoptees.
You can also volunteer, share within your circle of influence, write letters, or provide testimony as to why it is important that OBCs be available to adoptees.
If there is no legislation concerning OBCs in your state, then you can contact your state leaders, social workers, and stakeholders (a fancy social work term for those who would be invested in or benefit from a policy change) to start the process of creating a bill proposal.
While it seems overwhelming to think about overturning such a socially accepted practice, it is possible. There is a recent success story out of Louisiana in which the adoption constellation came together to successfully advance adoptee rights. Elise Lewis, an adult adoptee, Tyler Koch, an adoptive parent, and Jeanette Livingston, a Birth/First mother and chair of the Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board recently came together to lobby for Bill 450. In June 2022, HB 450 was signed into law and now allows adoptees born in Louisiana to acquire their OBCs. You as an adoptee, foster parent, adoptive parent, someone part of the constellation or someone who cares about these issues have the power to help advance adoptee human rights and access to our original birth certificates.
Adoptee Rights Coalition. (2022). Home. ARC. https://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/
Adoptee's United, inc. (2022). Adoptee Rights Legislation | Adoptees United Inc. Adoptees
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Access to Adoption Records.
Tirado, A. (2022). Adoptees can finally access their original birth certificates in Louisiana.