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Adoption Blog: Improv Mom

Why I Support Adoptee Rights



I am looking at my daughter's birth certificate.

Right there, in plain print, it states that Beth is a "Child of" myself and my husband. It lists her birth date and the city and state where she was born. It even lists the states where my husband and I were born.

I remember receiving it in the mail six years ago. I was overjoyed. I felt like this was the last official step saying, "You are the mother and father of this baby girl!"

It's strange to me now that I thought about this document in this way…as more of a proclamation announcing my status as PARENT rather than as a vital legal record announcing who Beth was in the world. This is her birth certificate after all—what does it officially say about her?

Well, this birth certificate, which is actually her amended birth certificate, says her life began with us—that we are her only parents. And as every adoptive parent knows, this is not the full story.

Because Beth's adoption was finalized in New York State, it also means that she is not legally entitled to have access to her original birth certificate—her own personal history. Whereas you or I can simply produce a driver's license and pay a few bucks to get a copy of our original birth certificates, she, and every New York State adoptee, cannot. They are, in fact, being treated like second-class citizens.

For me, it's as much a basic human need as it is a fundamental right to know who you are and where you came from, and Beth is one of the lucky ones.

Before leaving the hospital where Beth was born, my husband and I received copies of her medical records and a copy of her original birth certificate. Both contain all the juicy little details, such as the time of her birth, her weight and length, and her newborn footprints. It also lists all the big juicy details, too—her (birth) mother's and father's full names, their birthplaces, and their residence at the time of her birth.

Included as part of her medical records, there are several sheets with the header NEWBORN DAILY PATIENT CARE RECORD. One page observes the following: "Infant to mother's room per open crib. Infant to mother's arms. Positive bonding present. Father of baby present also with positive bonding."

I'm very grateful we have an open adoption with Beth's birth parents, siblings, and extended family. Yet, I can imagine how reading these words might offer up a unique sense of comfort to Beth one day…that she can see in black and white that she was loved and cared for by her mother and father from the beginning.     

New York State Assemblyman David Weprin has sponsored a bill that would restore that peace of mind and basic right to everyone who was adopted in this state, and there is nothing that is more important to me than that. I should let you know that the Bill of Adoptee Rights is not about reunion. This bill is about equal rights—the right to access accurate and complete medical and self-identifying data, just like any other non-adopted New Yorker.

Here's what you can do to make a difference in 5 minutes or less:

1.    Take the #SimplePieceOfPaper Challenge:
Write on a piece of plain white paper:
#SimplePieceOfPaper
NYAdoptionEquality.org

Take a picture of yourself holding it. Post online. Add the hashtags: #SimplePieceOfPaper and #AdopteeBillOfRights

Then invite your friends and family to do the same.

When you see a #SimplePieceOfPaper Challenge post, be sure to Like and Share it.

For more info go to nyadoptionequality.com.

2.    Like the following pages on Facebook:

David Weprin. Post a note thanking him for introducing and supporting this bill.  

New York State Equality. Read the latest news, and more about how you can get involved.

You can read the Bill here: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A909-2013

These are simple steps you can take to help get the New York Bill of Adoptee Rights passed. Let's do this for our children who don't yet have a voice. And let's do this for adult adoptees who are still denied, but thankfully have a voice and are speaking up.

So, where do you stand?


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4 Comments

Thank you for posting this extremely useful information!

By Danielle Pennel on Friday, March 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm.

Thanks so much for saying Danielle! Exciting stuff happening in New York and other states right now… so if anyone wants to be heard now’s the time to speak up and out.

By Barbara Herel on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 at 8:19 am.

I am currently waiting for 2 of my daughters’ amended birth certificates and it offends me on their behalf and their birth parents behalf that my husband and I will be listed as parents at birth.  Right now I have both of their certificates of adoption and to me that should be enough.  I love my girls with my whole heart and would die for them.  I do not want to erase their past, they are who they are and they each have a story.

I hope NY gets with the program.  Not sure if either of my girls could get copies of their OBC here in PA but I’m lucky to have copies of both.

By C3 on Thursday, July 02, 2015 at 8:58 pm.

Yes you are lucky, C3, and so are your girls! Can’t believe New York is so behind on this, it’s maddening…. Unfortunately New York Adoptees are still waiting for their right to access their original birth certificates. A NEW Adoptee Rights Bill will be introduced next year. Will certainly keep you posted about that.

By Barbara Herel on Monday, July 06, 2015 at 12:17 pm.

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Barbara Herel

Barbara Herel

New York

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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