Why OBC (Original Birth Certificates) Matter to Reunited Adoptees

Last night, as we discussed the editing on my debut novel Waving Backwards, my adoptive mother (an avid reader of this blog) asked me a question that made me consider the way non-adoptees view the quest of reunited adoptees for access to their OBCs (Original Birth Certificates).

Mom asked, “If they already know their birth families, why is it important for adoptees to get their original birth certificates?”

My immediate response was, “Because it belongs to them. It is a document that every other American has access to, and adoptees are denied access because of decisions that were completely out of their control.”

Pondering this further, I added, “Equality, Mom. We adoptees want the same rights as every other American. We want the paper that officiates our arrival on this earth. It may be a simple piece of paper, but for me it a document that makes my existence more solid. It connects me to the lineage that I fought so hard to discover. It is also a document of healing. It does not heal the wounds of separation, but acts as a band-aid covering at least one gaping crevice of my identity.”

As a believer in birth certificate and adoption record access for all adoptees at the age of eighteen, I continued, “We also want any rights that might be tied to our birth certificates.”  In my case, my birth mom is Canadian and as her daughter, I would be granted dual citizenship if I had the birth certificate that proved my lineage.

As a reunited adoptee, my original birth certificate is the first page of my life.

On the promotional page for the adoption search documentary A Simple Piece of Paper filmmaker Jean Strauss quotes adoptee Darryl McDaniels of the musical group RUN DMC as saying, “No one starts a book from chapter one, But adoptees’ live their lives from chapter two. All we want is to know the beginning of our own story.”  (View McDaniels adoption story on Fuse)

Explaining the significance of my OBC to a non-adoptee is difficult. It is easy to describe hunger to revelers at a feast, but few will feel the gut-wrenching pain of lack that adoptees feel everyday.

In an effort to obtain equal OBC access, the New York State Adoptee Equal Access Group has started a photo challenge.  They ask that you post/tweet/blog/share a photo of yourself  (or someone famous) holding a sign that reads- #‎SimplePieceOfPaper‬  and include the url NYAdoptionEquality.org.

NY's Prime Sponsor: Assemblyman David Weprin

NY’s Prime Sponsor: Assemblyman David Weprin

If, like me, you are a New York adoptee, this is a great way to help increase the visibility of our cause. Please post your pic on my FB community page-Adoptees who have found their biological families.

Blessings for equal access,
V.L.

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Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

Happy Equal Access Day Ohio Adoptees!

On this cold, rainy day in Ohio, a line of colorful umbrellas line the walkway in front of the Cleveland Bureau of Vital Statistics. Under each protective canopy stands a hopeful adoptee clinging to the paperwork they have dreamed of for a lifetime. March 20, 2015 is independence day for Ohio adoptees, as they are now permitted to obtain their Original Birth Certificates (OBCs).

Photo by Adoption Network Cleveland

Photo by Adoption Network Cleveland

This photo brought me to tears. They are tears of relief for the 400,000 adoptees who now have the option of knowing who they are, and where they come from. As a reunited NY adoptee, I breath a sigh of relief for the blessed closure that is coming for these adoptees.

I also tear up for the millions of adoptees in the 40+ states where obtaining an Original Birth Certificate (without birth parent approval or court order) remains a hopeful dream.  The road to equal rights and open records is a long one, but Ohio’s success teaches us that it is a road worth traveling and that WE CAN DO IT!

Finally, I weep at the necessity of the line. That any human being should be forced to fight for information of such a personal nature is a travesty. Every American, non-adoptee has an inalienable right to obtain their original birth certificate. Yet, most adoptees are forced to accept amended certificates.  Access to OBCs should be a civil right for all!

The information is ours. Period.

Blessings & equal access for all adoptees,
V.L. Brunskill

——————————————————————
Waving Backwards, a Savannah novel (SYP Publishing)
Imagine not knowing who you are,
until you find yourself in a statue 800-miles from home.
COMING TO Amazon/Kindle/Nook and a BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU JULY 2015

March 20, 2015- Independence Day for Ohio Adoptees

Spring arrives in celebratory style for Ohio adoptees adopted between 1964 and 1996. On March 20, 2015 these adoptees can request a copy of their original birth certificates. Adoptees born before 1964, and after 1996 already had access under state law. The new law extends access to ALL adoptees in Ohio.

Much of the credit for this long awaited, equal access triumph goes to Adoption Network’s Betsie Norris, who worked 24 years on a series of proposed adoption access bills, before the Ohio Senate finally passed Bill 23 on December 19, 2013. To learn more about the lady and her superstar efforts to restore rights to adoptees, check out this Cool Cleveland interview.

For Ohio adoptees wondering how the process works, there is a short explanatory film on YouTube (embedded below) by superstar adoptee rights advocate, author and filmmaker Jean Strauss. For more information on the process and forms for requesting your original birth certificate, visit the Ohio Department of Health site.

Blessings and thanks to the adoptee advocates who worked so hard to make this dream a reality!

Hugs and congrats Ohio,
V.L.

Big Win for New Jersey Adoptees- OBC Access Coming in 2017

There are few things that make an adoptee rights advocate happier than when a state grants equal access to Original Birth Certificates (OBCs).  So I am hop, skip, and jumping in joyous reaction to the news out of New Jersey this week. A legislative agreement has been reached that will allow adoptees to begin accessing their original birth certificates on January 1, 2017.  Sweet! celebrate

While the nearly three year wait is ridiculous (and will make reunion impossible for some who will find to late) the law has lingered in legislative limbo for years. If it did not pass this time, who knows how long it would have been stalled.

The insane waiting period is meant to give birth parents time to  have their names removed from their biological child’s birth records. I wholeheartedly disagree with this option as it casts adoptees’ civil rights as less important than the civil and privacy rights of the parents who relinquished them. However, every state that grants equal access is a step in the right direction.

Read the details of this celebration worthy event below-

As soon information is released on the process for requesting NJ OBCs, I will post the details.

Blessings for equal access in every US state,

Vicki-lynn

 

 

 

NY, NJ, PA Equal Access Bills Give Adoptees Hope (Act Now)

Spring bursts forth hopeful for thousands of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania adoptees who hope to obtain their original birth certificates.

As ancient adoption rules and perceptions get a proper lashing in mainstream movies, books and television shows, the legal landscape for adoptees is also changing. For the first time in decades, society seems to be moving away from fear, and towards understanding that it is every human’s right to know their genetic, historic and social identity.

At this very moment, there are three equal access bills proposed in influential northern U.S. states. These include:

To get these adoption bills signed into law, interested adoptees MUST take action NOW. You must write, call and be vocal about your support for equal access. In order to hasten participation by adoptees, here are the links to action sites in NJ, NY and PA.  We-Can-Do-It

These groups/links offer specific steps that you can take today to help adoptees in your state (or state of adoption) get equal access.

WE CAN DO IT Adoptionfind readers! Please act today.

Blessings for legislative action and equal access,
Vicki-lynn

34 Years Later- NJ Equal Access Bill Inches Forward

New Jersey adoptees may finally be closer to obtaining their original birth certificates and health records.
Bill A-1259, which has been bandied about for more than three decades was recently approved by the NJ Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and the Assembly Human Services Committee. This is the same bill that was passed by both legislative houses in 2011, only to be conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Check out the full story at NJSpotlight.com.
Bill Would Give Adoptees Access to Medical History, Info About Birth Parents (via NJSpotlight)At a time when the understanding and treatment of inherited disorders has grown by leaps and bounds, one group has not had access to any information about their family’s medical history – people whose biological parents’ names were sealed when…

Continue reading

MPNnow News: Adult Adoptees seek Answers

Sharing a wonderful article from MPNnow.com on one adoptee’s need to know and pending NY legislation that would allow adult adoptees equal access to their Original Birth Certificates (OBC’s).

Adult adoptees seek answers

Adults adopted as children hope for legislation to make it easier to learn about their birth parents

Only first page of article is shared below. Read the rest at MPNnow.com: http://www.mpnnow.com/topstories/x1910063270/Adult-adoptees-seek-answers#ixzz2VRwOwqC1

A card in Dottie O’Neill Marble’s baby book read: “I wasn’t expected, I was selected.”

Marble’s adoption shortly after she was born was never a secret, said the 42-year-old East Bloomfield resident — but details of her past were a secret.

“My adoptive mom was very supportive,” said Marble. In her teen years, Marble said she began placing ads in newspapers in hopes of finding her birth mother. “It was an overwhelming feeling of not knowing who you really are,” she said.

A possible solution to her identity crisis came one day in 1995 when she got a call from someone with information about a baby born at Genesee Hospital on Sept. 19, 1970, a girl given up for adoption. It led to an eventual meeting with a woman Marble believes is her birth mother.

“It closed a big hole for me,” said Marble, one of a growing number of adoptees and others seeking more openness in the New York state adoption law.

While Marble’s efforts led to some sense of closure — as well as connecting with a grandmother and an extended family she didn’t know before — it also called attention to New York’s adoption law that prevents adoptees from obtaining an original birth certificate to learn about their past.

Proposed legislation in Albany addressing this issue is called the Bill of Adoptee Rights. It clarifies language and procedures for obtaining birth certificates and medical histories of adoptees; permits an adopted adult to access certain records when they reach the age of 18; and creates a contact preference to be filed by birth parents, giving those parents the right to state whether or not they want contact with the child.

“Right now, any adopted adult over the age of 18 cannot get access to their own birth certificate, and this creates obvious problems for the adopted adult,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua. Kolb is a sponsor of the bill.

“This is an important bill to remedy that, and I believe they have a right to know and a right to gain access so they can meet the many identification requirements they have to provide their birth certificate for in their adult life,” he said.

Marble said that while the current law protects parents who give up a baby for adoption, it leaves the adopted person “without any rights.” When she sought to find her birth mother, “I wasn’t out to disrupt anyone’s life,” she said. What she did want was the truth about where she came from and to be able to provide that information to her own children, she said.

Read the rest at: http://www.mpnnow.com/topstories/x1910063270/Adult-adoptees-seek-answers#ixzz2VRwHUveJ

Blessings for equal access,

Vicki-lynn

Help pass NY Adoption Legislation for Adoptee Access to Birth Records

NEWS10 ABC reported yesterday on Legislation that would give adoptees access to birth records. What a wonderful way to head into Mother’s Day weekend!

However, we can’t sit back and celebrate just yet. The New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative needs your help to make sure this life-altering Adoption legislation passes the Senate.  Call your friends, share and please do whatever you can to make equal access the law in New York.

Below are details from the New York Statewide Adoption Reform Unsealed Initiative  site explaining what you can do right now.New York unsealed initiative

“Contact your legislators in their District Offices. To learn who your state assembly member and senator are, call the Albany switchboard at: 518 455-4218. The phone number in New York City for the League of Women Voters is (212) 725-3541. There are 150 assembly members and the link to the assembly website is http://assembly.state.ny.us
There are 62 state senators. One way to find out who your senator is is by logging on to the senate site, www.senate.state.ny.us
We now have 75 assembly sponsors. Although we have 16 in the senate, we are very hopeful for the future. With more interest and more of us committed to lobby in Albany next session, we are determined to win.
 
A written letter (snail mail) is of more importance with many legislators. However, some value emails. If your email does not get through, go to SEARCH and type in the name of the legislator for access to their website, as many have their own sites. Then send an email from the site. Be sure to include your address and phone number in your mail.A new law recently signed by Governor Cuomo extends participation in the adoption registry to include adult adoptees born in other states but adopted in New York. At last they can obtain non-identifying information from the registry the same as adult adoptees born in the state.”

Let’s go New York adoption triad members!
Let’s get this long overdue legislation passed!

Blessings for making the dream of equal access a reality,

Vicki-lynn

Closed Adoption System: 50+ Years of Stolen Biological Rights and Broken Identities

The closed adoption system in America is broken, and has been for more than fifty years.  Just look to Facebook for proof of the lifelong wounds inflicted by the closed adoption system. Everyday, hundreds of desperate adoptees post photos embellished with birth dates and non-identifying information in hopes of finding family.

The closed adoption system steals identities and often results in lifelong personality issues.  Even after reunion, many adoptees report a sense of not feeling bonded or belonging 100% to their biological or adoptive families.  We adoptees live in a limbo that tests the concepts of nature vs. nurture and like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, many of us can only guess at the biological tendencies that define us.

Having experienced the all-encompassing sense of loss that adoption brings, and knowing that my birth mother suffered the same emotional trauma, I have been thinking about the origins of closed adoption.  Who first decided that it was ok to take a child from one woman, charge a fee, and hand it over to another family to raise? Who decided that stealing and sealing away the medical and birth records of adoptees was a just legal procedure?

Adoption in America started informally in the mid 1800’s, as a way to place orphaned children. According to InfoPlease.com, “In 1851, Massachusetts passed the nation’s first adoption statute. It required that judges determine if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, “sufficient ability to bring up the child,” and that it was “fit and proper that such adoption should take effect.”

Two years later, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society of New York in 1853. The Children’s Aid Society was meant to serve orphans, and created the Orphan train phenomenon. InfoPlease writes, “Between 1859 and 1929 some 200,000 orphaned children were transported from coastal cities to rural areas in the Midwest.”orphan train

After World War I, modern day adoption methods started to take shape. The choice to close off the records of adopted children was not a result of too many unwanted babies. It was a decision born of married couples wanting babies with no strings attached.  Adoption and social agencies supplied well-off couples with children and promised that biological families would not contact them.  Agencies claimed that closed adoptions would protect children against the social stigma of being illegitimate, and help them to bond.

Those of us who have searched or are currently searching know that the real stigma of closed adoption is being citizen with less inalienable rights than American’s who were raised by their biological families.  The idea that sealing away records would help a child to bond is the most laughable aspect of the closed adoption model.  Books like ‘Primal Wound‘ and ‘Being Adopted‘ chronicle the lifelong search for self, and the biological need to imprint that is inherent in all animals.

In the 1970’s, Roe vs. Wade and a change of social attitudes allowed for some open adoptions, but by then an entire generation of adoptees had been damaged. Many states are now considering laws that will allow adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates (OBCs), but for some the awakening of America will come to late.  How many biological mother’s went to their graves without ever once looking at their child? How many adoptees have searched in vain for information sealed away in their best interest?

It is sickening that in a country that prides itself on freedom of religion, protection of civil rights and freedom of speech, adoptees are still denied the right to know. Slavery was a broken system based on inequality, oppression and denial of basic human rights. It was abolished and slaves were freed.

When will adoptees be freed?
Blessings for equal access,
Vicki-lynn

OHIO Equal Access Call To Action: Adoptees/Birthparents Please Attend Bill HB 61 Hearing March 13, 2013

The HB 61 Adoption Bill will be discussed on March 13, 2013, and the group ROAR  (Restore Ohio Adoptee Rights) 2013 needs your help!

Currently, only adoptees born prior to 1964 and after 1996 have access to their birth records.  The bill would allow access for those born in the missing years.

Below is the update and call to action from the ROAR 2013 site.

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Update #9 POSSIBLE COMMITTEE VOTE ON HB 61! WE NEED YOU AT THE NEXT HEARING!

IN THIS UPDATE

POSSIBLE COMMITTEE VOTE ON HB 61! WE NEED YOU AT THE NEXT HEARING!

The next House Judiciary Committee hearing for HB 61 is now scheduled for Wednesday, March 13th at 3pm. A summary of the last hearing is available below. There is a strong possibility that the committee may vote on the bill on March 13th, so it is IMPERATIVE that all proponents attend this hearing- especially adoptees and birthparents! Because there are several other bills being discussed at this hearing, we have been asked by the committee to limit proponent testimony to 4-5 people for March 13th.

Four adult adoptees delivered fantastic testimony on 3/6, but the committee has yet to hear from birthparents. Currently, the action plan is for Betsie Norris of Adoption Network Cleveland, Kate Livingston of Ohio Birthparent Group and three birthparents (each having placed a child in a different decade of Ohio’s closed adoption record period) to testify on 3/13. We hope to have ALL birthparents in attendance stand behind the podium in solidarity with those three birthparents who will be testifying.

 

ACTION ALERT: THINGS YOU CAN DO

  1. Submit Your Written Testimony: Anyone can submit written testimony regardless of whether or not they deliver oral testimony at a hearing. This may be your last chance to submit your written testimony for HB 61. Please email your written testimony by noon on Tuesday, March 12th to:  Jeff.Dillon@ohiohouse.gov
  2. Attend the March 13th Hearing! We need as many people as possible to be at this hearing. The committee could vote on the bill during this hearing, so it is critical that we have as many proponents as possible in the room. If there was ever a date to be there – this is it.
  3. Birthparents Stand Together- Attend the hearing and stand in solidarity at the podium with the three birthparents who will be testifying.
  4. Continue to let your legislator know that you want them to support these bills. To find your legislator, go to: http://www.legislature.state.oh.us

To learn more about ROAR and HB 61, visit their site.

Blessings for Equal Access in Ohio!
Vicki-lynn