Sunday, February 8, 2015


A Texas group is pushing for unsealing birth certificates for people adopted.

The bill this Texas group is flagging about has a proviso for preference of contact, which means if the mother doesn't want contact she can state that or if contact is agreed then she can decide what type of contact is suitable for her.

One justification they’re using is that adopted people are finding their parents and family members anyway, through online mediums such as Facebook and DNA testing. This contact option, they say, will provide further assurance and privacy for the mother, as she will receive notice that her daughter or son is looking for her.

This argument is no less than appalling, not to mention hugely embarrassing.

Why do so many advocates for unsealing birth certificates feel the need to propagate the myth of privacy and contact? No human on earth needs legalized protection from me and there needn't be any safeguarding measure put in place for others to decide how I should contact them.

Here’s an astonishing revelation for those who still buy into the privacy propaganda: Birth certificates were never sealed to protect mothers, fathers or family members from those not raised by their parents or family.

Here’s an example of how the privacy notion is a sham. My mother had eight kids, two of us were adopted, two were raised together in one foster home, the others lived in various homes, and the youngest remained with our mother.

One brother and I went through the adoption process. Our birth certificates were legally sealed. My two sisters were raised together in one foster home. Their birth certificates remained in tact.

So what about the privacy of our mother - am I to believe that my brother and I had our birth certificates sealed because our mother wanted anonymity from us? The birth certificates were sealed because that's what adoption does- seals an original birth record after it's been altered. It is not and never was about privacy for the woman who gave birth.

It’s actually absurd to think that privacy or anonymity had anything to do with the sealing of any birth certificate. It’s a requirement of any person who has a change of identity. A person cannot conduct her/himself in society with two legal identities (two birth certificates). There is one certified copy and one non-certified copy. Who the person becomes or why the original birth certificate was modified is moot. Someone could change the spelling of their name, or take a new first or last name – whatever the alteration is and after it’s been legally processed, the former document is sealed. But the information listed on the original birth certificate is not meant to be hidden from its owner.

Another example: if parent’s divorce and a mother remarries and that new partner wants to adopt her children, the birth certificates of those children will be sealed. The children who are adopted by the new partner will not be able to access their original birth certificate, even if this new identity change happened at 14 years old. And they know who their mother is – they’re living with her.

The whole “Birth Mother Privacy” concept is bogus. People who have not researched legislation or bothered to actually understand the process of sealing birth certificates have been causing widespread frenetic reactions for the last century. What we have are misinformed zealots running around trying to get others on board to spread the same derisory information, with the hope of convincing legislators and the public that adoptees might cause harm, then introducing degrading and discriminatory procedures as adoptee-harm-prevention.

There are advocates who expect those adopted to simply accept that others deserve the right to privacy from them. Wrong. Stop propagating false information. If I want to test my DNA, look up my family on Facebook or contact old friends, former lovers, cousins, aunts, uncles, former classmates . . . or whomever - I can do so freely. I can even attempt to make contact with any of those people. No one has the right to a forewarning that I might be doing that.

Another misconception around the sealing of birth certificates is the idea that governments actually cared about a woman’s privacy or anonymity from her daughter or son. In the beginning era of sealing birth certificates, a woman could not divorce her husband, she could not vote nor could she attend some universities. Women were not taken seriously with spousal abuse and rape. Women did not have “rights.”

Women who became pregnant out of wedlock were viewed as shameful creatures - dishonorable, who became the supply of family, town and church scorn and ridicule.

Women were herded out to maternity buildings, where many were treated horribly; the shame perpetuated through physical, emotional and verbal abuse, and some were used as experiments in hospitals – to poke and prod. The unwed pregnant woman didn't matter, anyway, now that she’d visibly upset society’s asinine moral conduct code regarding a woman’s’ choice about when and why she would engage in sex.

Where was the government then – was it not mortified at the treatment of these women? The ones they had granted lifetime anonymity to? And why was the mother not allowed to know what happened to her child. That doesn't appear to be a very “caring” government. The government provides her a right to anonymity, but not the right to know the new name and whereabouts of her child.

Plainly, governments had absolutely no interest at all in the advancement or protection of these women. There was, however, at the same time, a different type of industry emerging - the business of providing childless couples with babies – a baby labeled “without identity” that could be the ideal (non-biological) child-substitute. One must wonder, then, who exactly would have had the most invested in mother and child privacy?

If governments were actually mindful of the care and protection of these women, it would have been evident before any child was conceived.

If privacy for mothers was never the intent of sealing birth certificates, then why is privacy considered now? Why is it even a topic for discussion? Governments can’t all of sudden claim today that sealing birth certificates was for the protection of the mother – saying, uh, sorry, that’s what we meant. Privacy is as irrelevant now as it was then and should be tossed out of every advocacy effort to unseal birth certificates.

Adopted people are not potential destroyers of lives – no one needs to be warned of their impending arrival and they certainly do not need security measures developed through law intended to safeguard other people from potential contact.

No one should support bill that requires a person agree to measures set on instilling the idea that an adopted person will or may cause harm to another person, should that adopted person be in possession of her/his own birth certificate.

When claiming to be representing the adopted population and the unsealing of birth certificates, either get into the teeth of it and fight for rights based on equality and human rights for all, or simply don’t bother.  

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