Sealed Birth Certificates: Violation of Civil Rights?

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One year ago, Adam Pertman, author of the  book, “Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming Our Families – and America,” wrote a ‘Huffington Post‘ article comparing the withholding of adoptee’s original birth certificates, to women’s suffrage, and the fight for African American equal rights.

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Pertman wrote, “it’s about providing legal and moral equality for a segment of our population that is not generally perceived as deprived of any rights: the approximately 7 million Americans who were adopted into their families. And the right denied to most of them is so basic that it almost sounds like a joke: access to their own original birth certificates.”

I agree, wholeheartedly. As an adoptee who found both birthparents, and openly shared this with both adoptive parents, I am still denied my original birth certificate.  Who are they protecting?  In New York, where my adoption took place, records for all traditional adoptions are sealed. This is the case in most American states.

Adoptees should have the same right to information as everyone in America. We did not sign any papers, approving the withholding of information, and should not be held accountable for the actions of adoptive and birth parents, especially once we reach adulthood.  While so many, fight hard for American Civil Rights, our minority is expected to accept the indignity of a stolen identity with a shrug and a smile.

Pertman, a non-adoptee, concluded in the Huffington Post article,  “We should care, and we should feel outraged, for the same reason so many men supported suffrage for women and so many white Americans joined the civil rights struggle — because we should find it offensive when any minority group in society is deprived of equal rights.”

Bravo, Mr. Pertman, Bravo! You can learn more about the man and his Pulitzer-nominated work at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute site. Pertman is Executive Director.

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