8 Reasons Why Adoptees Should Have Access to Their Original Birth Certificates

Every adoptee should have access to his or her birth certificate.

Tom Andriola May 15, 2015

Adoptees should have access to their original birth certificates, and it should not have to be a debate to give this access. Genealogy has been around since the start of human existence. For many, it is a basic fundamental desire to want to learn about your roots, and for all, it is a basic human right to have access to these roots. Adoptees should not be denied access to the basic information that will help them to be able to participate in this widespread human endeavor. Here is why:

It's Their Right
1. It's Their Right

Adoptees have a right to know where they come from and who their biological parents are. Period. Not only is it their right, it is a basic human right.

No Other Group is Denied Access
2. No Other Group is Denied Access

Adoptees seem to be the only group denied access to their original birth certificates. Children living in foster homes who are not adopted are not denied that right. Children born out of wedlock and whose fathers want to keep an affair secret are also entitled to their original birth certificate. It only seems natural that adoptees should have the same access.

It is for Their Health
3. It is for Their Health

Every time I go to the doctor, I get the question: “What is your family’s medical history?” He does this so he can be aware of diseases that I may be at an extra risk for. When I reply that I am adopted, and because of this I am not sure of my family’s medical history, it creates a certain unfairness. The denial of access to an original birth certificate can have potential health consequences.

4. Authenticity

An altered birth certificate is an unauthentic birth certificate. It is painful for many adoptees to pull out their altered birth certificate, knowing full well that the mother and father listed on the document were added at some later date. Some people make reference to an original birth certificate as a simple piece of paper. And it is. But it is one that is important to many adoptees.

They Will Not Be Kids Forever
5. They Will Not Be Kids Forever

The debate over adoptee access to their original birth certificate seems to be about “protecting” the best interests of the birth mother and the adoptive parents, and seems to ignore that adoptees will not be children forever. They grow up to be adults with just as many rights as anyone else. It seems fair that they would be treated as such.

Many Birth Mothers Want to Know
6. Many Birth Mothers Want to Know

I became familiar with an advocacy group in New York that is trying to push legislation that would grant adoptees access to their original birth certificates, and I was surprised to find that a major part of the effort was being made by biological mothers who are hoping to find their adopted child. These mothers were never promised confidentiality, as many would allege, and many were also coerced into placing their child up for adoption, contrary to what many assume.

Secrets Can be Toxic
7. Secrets Can be Toxic

When was a secret that was eventually revealed ever simply dismissed with a shrug? Keeping the truth hidden is usually toxic, and when it comes out, someone is usually pretty angry. There is no good reason to keep the truth of their existence from adoptees.

It Results in Unnecessary Pain and Suffering
9. It Results in Unnecessary Pain and Suffering

I have seen the torture and suffering that many adoptees have endured as they conduct the search for their biological family members. It’s suffering that is easily avoidable, because the information is readily accessible by the officials and agencies keeping the records. There is no good reason why the perceived rights of one adult, and I say perceived rights because many biological mothers actually want to find their adopted child, are more important than the rights of another.

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Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola advocates for adoptee rights and shares his personal experiences about being adopted and his successful, independent search for both biological parents. To see more of his writing, visit Tom's Facebook page.

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