Why My Original Birth Certificate Matters to me (and Should to You)!
It is illegal for me to own my own original birth certificate (OBC) in this country. That's right, adoption records including legal birth certificates were closed to adoptees in most states and Washington D.C. on January 1st, 1964. That means anyone born before that date who is an adoptee may own their original birth certificate, but anyone born after that date must petition the court (generally with a life or death medical reason) to gain access to that certificate on file. I was born in Washington D.C. on January 7, 1964. If I had been born one week earlier, I would be legally allowed to possess this piece of paper. It is considered a criminal act if I try to gain access to my own birth certificate.
Meanwhile, I have been reunited with my birthparents, Linda Pellini and Jack McAuliffe. I know they are my biological parents, they both acknowledge me, along with their familes. Still, the only birth certificate I'm allowed to own is the amended certificate showing Bob and Mary Ann Mills as the people who gave me life. While they will always be the loving parents who raised me, they are not the people who biologically created me. And that is a government lie.
In other words, there was a group of people in this country (lawmakers, lobbied by certain groups) who decided that I am not mature enough to handle the information of my birth, even upon reaching the age of 21. The law was created to protect (often young) birthparents, and I certainly think protecting their privacy up until the time I also became an adult makes sense. But once we all became adults, do I not have the right to truth about my family ties? Understand, the people who created this law in all likelihood own their own birth certificates--but they tell me I cannot--even though I know the truth of my origins. I would just really love to own the document that says I was born Christina Beata Pellini to Linda Pellini. Is that so terrible? A crime?
Yes, there are those who believe that closed records will encourage teenage mothers to relinquish their unwanted babies for adoption, rather than have an abortion--who believe that the thought of a grown adoptee searching for the truth of their own creation might prevent them from giving them a chance at a loving family. Meanwhile, in Kansas, where adoptees have had full rights to their birth certificates as adults forever, the abortion rates are considerably lower than in those states where closed records prevail. The same goes for Alaska.
While not owning my own birth certificate is certainly not the worst crime against humanity, it gives me a small glimpse into the larger world of being considered not good enough, unworthy, different than the mainstream. I may be a white, middle class, married female with the right to vote in these United States, but I certainly have been the victim of legal prejudice. Have you? Would you deny another person their right to enjoy the same rights you enjoy? With liberty and justice FOR ALL rings in my head.
Learn more about my mission to legally possess my own birth certificate at the Bastard Nation website:
Also, the American Adoption Congress: http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/
Open records, open hearts, open minds.
Original identity is a basic human right.
Every adult adoptee deserves access to their original birth certificate, the very same access afforded all non-adopted persons.
The government should never be in the business of sealing a person's identity without their permission under any circumstances.
Birth certificates were first sealed to protect the birth mother and her family from public knowledge and judgment, NOT from the adoptee.
"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning; no matter what our attainments in life, there is the most disquieting loneliness." Alex Haley, Roots
The states where adoptees are permitted access are: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee.
Renee Deluca is an adoptee whose story is featured on ShareWIK.com. She is a wife, mom to a teenage daughter and stepmom to a grown daughter and teenage son. She and her husband live in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
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