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,

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

Huffington Post: Good News from Adam Pertman on Adoption Rights

Hooray for the Huffington Post article titled, ‘Equal Rights for All: It’s Finally Time for Adopted People, Too’ by Adam Pertman! Adam is Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute; and author of ‘Adoption Nation‘ and ‘Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men‘.

Pertman writes about recent debates over marriage rights for homosexual Americans, and how the fight for equality is much akin to the often ignored rights of adoptees.  Adoptees in nearly every American state are fighting the good fight for equal access to their original birth certificates. Pertman shares good news on this front,  telling us that, “Change is in the air…, and a grassroots adoption-reform movement — akin to the one that led to the marriage-equality cases now before the U.S. Supreme Court — is growing.”

Pertman also takes on the common (and mistaken) belief that open records will result in untold calamities for everyone in the adoption triad. To prove his point, Pertman links to three readily available reports on sealed adoptions and the real-life outcomes of open records legislation.

Pertman writes, “All this information, and far more, is contained in two comprehensive, research-based reports published by the Adoption Institute, “For the Records” and “For the Records II.” Additional information is contained in testimony that I have provided on behalf of the Institute in various states that have considered OBC legislation in recent years, for example in Maryland.”

Equal rights means everyone!  Please don’t miss the article. It is a well-documented look at the issues that define the plight of adult adoptees in America. Bravo Adam, well-done!

Blessing for equal access to your OBC,

Printable Poster: Original Birth Certificate (OBC) Laws for Adoptees by State

I just discovered a handy printable guide to the rules in every U.S. state regarding access to original birth certificates.  Available at adopteerightscoalition.com, the chart/poster presents details on every U.S. state You can either download it, and view as a pdf file or print it.

Adoptee Rights Coalition Poster

The Adoptee Rights Coalition is a group that “supports legislation that will give all adopted adults unconditional restored access to their own birth certificates.” The Coalition holds rallies across the county, and its site is chock full of information on  adoptee rights, and legislation.

If you’re interested in the cause of equal access for adoptees, there are several ways to get involved.  First,  consider attending the Adoptee Rights Demonstration scheduled for August 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  More details on this event will be posted at adopteerightscoalition.com as they become available.

Can’t make it to Atlanta? No problem, there are other ways to get involved. The Adoptee Rights Coalition also hosts writing campaigns “to inform all state legislatures of the urgency of unsealing our records to restore the equality of adoptees in the United States. ”

As with most non-profits, the group could also use financial donations to keep the cause alive.   There is a Paypal button on the website! For more ways to help, visit http://www.adopteerightscoalition.com/p/help-arc.html .
Civil rights should extend to all humans, and I am happy to focus on a group that is working  to assure that adoptees are finally recognized and reunited with their truth!

Blessings  for access and reunion,

Vicki-lynn Brunskill