Assembling Self

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Access To Adoption Information... or better put, the lack of it.

In National Adoption Awareness month there are so many subjects and issues to tackle it becomes difficult to attempt to even pick just a few.  So today, I will focus on the problems and frustrations of adoptees attempting to obtain records and information on their biological families since I am there, yet again.  It is a vast issue to cover in one blog so I will touch on a few key points to help those that are anware of the struggles adoptees deal with.

Most people I have talked with believe you can walk up to a counter and order your records with a simple request.  That is a fallacy.  Requests can be time consuming some taking months and can be costly, depending on where you were placed for adoption out of.  It is especially difficult for those of us who have little or no infomation from our adoptive parents, armed with only an ammended birth certificate in hand filled with inaccurate and false information.  Some adoptees are told they don't exist in any records sytem at all.  Add to that adoptees who were born in one state and adopted into another and it can become a convoluted frustrating process.  I also have heard numerous times "What do you mean you can't get your original birth certificate?"  Once again, so much of the general public is unaware how bound adoptees are by unjust adoption law and policy.

Adoptees can obtain non-identifying information from either from the state, the agency you were adopted out of, or sometimes from the lawyers that handled your adoption. But this non-identifying information, which is the social, ethnic, medical, and educational background taken from your biological family when you were born, is not clearly defined. Some people get little perhaps two or three sentences, whereas some get pages, and some get none.  It depends on the person, or agency, that took it down and it is to their discretion what they record, and what they do not.  I won't even go into the amount of adoptees I know who found out later that this information was in fact not even true.  Suffice it to say, we can not even be assured our non-identifying information is accurate.

Obtaining identifying information about our biological families is even harder, if not impossible.  Only a handful of states allow adoptees unrestricted access to their original birth certificates.  The majority of states do not.  Adoptees have to petition courts, and sometimes incur court costs as well, and be dependent on a judge's ruling to decide what is "just cause" to open your records.  Some adoptees like me, even with dire health issues and an absolute need for updated medical information, are turned down.  I am on my fourth court petition and have received zero identifying information about my biological family, even with doctors willing to provide letters for medical need.  We are yet again, at the mercy of others who hold our vital life information, and decisions, in their hands.

Some states and agencies will do a search for adoptees as mine did.  I was "lucky" mine was done for free probably due to my health problems and need for updated family medical history.  So many other adoptees are not as lucky.  Some, even with emergency medical need are quoted hundreds of dollars or more in cost and well over a year to recieve any records, IF they can locate the biological family and get their "permission".  And, there are no guarantees for your money you will receive anything at all.  This is UNACCEPTABLE.  There is no uniformity with regard to disclosure or access to current family medical or identifying information for adoptees.  It is a hit and miss, mostly miss, system.  Adoptees, and their children are languishing in ill health having to plead and beg for information.  Biological parents are dying in an effort to try and forward important genetic and hereditary to adoptees.  I won't even approach right now the subject of the failure of state adoption registries we are referred to, to help us.

Lastly, adoptees should have the ability to contact their own family and not have a third party in control of communication.   I should not have to sit on the phone listening to an inept or judgemental confidential intermediary trying to read and discern MY family information to me.  Adoptees should not be bound and hindered by an adoption system that dictates to us what we can and can not know about our own biological families.  We are not adopted children, we are adults!  Get the GOVERNMENT out of our way!


  1. Ah, but Karen, don't you know our biological parents have the right to their privacy, to hide their shame at our expense? Besides, if we found out the truth about our origins that might hurt our adoptive parents' feelings? Those are so much more important reasons than any sick, twisted curiousity we ungrateful adoptees might have. Everybody "won" when we were cut off from our roots!

  2. Even when we HAVE information from other sources, most SWs won't even confirm what we have.

    I was told that I couldn't even know where *I* was born because that would be considered identifying information.

    And then there are the state laws that ALLOW the adoptive parents to change the place of birth and the other secrecy facilitators who illegally change the date of birth (days, months, years) and place of birth. Some schemes call for the expectant mother to be admitted to the hospital under the prospective adoptive mother's name and under the prospective adoptive family's medical insurance!

    And people wonder why state and Federal agencies won't accept our falsified birth certificates!

  3. Yep we are all just ungrateful adoptees who refuse to be thankful because someone was good enough to take us in and forget about all that roots and genetics stuff 'cause it doesn't matter right? I mean why even search for your first family you might upset someone's life! Even if it's life or death medical need you just need to play with the hand you were dealt. And, as Gaye said, if your ammended BC hinders you from obtaining a passport, or animals have more genetic history and papers than we do who cares?

  4. Gaye, what lengths do people go to conceal who you realy are!!Is there no end to the ingenuity?