New York’s OBC Laws Inhibit Adoption Search

An adoptee talks about her frustration with New York's laws.

Tom Andriola December 02, 2014
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Jennifer Marie was 7 years old when her parents decided they were going to adopt the little girl who would become her sister. She became curious about adoption during the process, and she gained a sense of pride being “the real child” as the events leading up to the big day unfolded.

One day, as the adoption of her sister got closer, Jen asked her mom what it was like being pregnant with her. And then came the bombshell. “You were adopted, too,” her mom said. Jen immediately felt like her world had just collapsed in front of her, and she began sobbing uncontrollably. She remembers her mom saying a lot of things after that, but she can’t remember any of it. She was completely devastated.

Jen wants to know her roots. She wants to be able to share her ethnicity with her four children, and more importantly, she wants to know where her own features and traits come from. She has searched yearbooks, contacted the adoption agency and the hospital in which she was born, taken DNA tests with three different companies, and signed up with any and all adoption registries in hopes of finding the information she desperately wants and needs.

When she was a teenager, Jen found a journal her mother had. Apparently her foster mother had written about the three months she had spent with her after she was born and awaiting placement. Her given name had been Catherine, and she was referred to as Katie. Tina, the 3-year-old girl who was in the foster home at the same time, playfully called her Katie 2 Ducks, which perhaps comes from the reference to her in the journal as Katie Kadutz. Jen isn’t sure if the name Kadutz has any significance, but she doesn’t rule out that it might. In her search, she can’t afford to overlook any detail, no matter how small.

In reality, the answer could be simple if not for the archaic laws in New York that forbid adoptees from obtaining copies of their original birth certificates, which would, of course, contain at least the name of the adoptee’s birth mother. The fight gains some momentum every year in Albany but, so far, to no avail.

“This whole process is so emotionally exhausting as well as frustrating and downright infuriating,” Jen said in a recent conversation. “These laws are truly unfair, and I can’t believe that, in this day and age, it’s still an issue.”

She hopes that one day soon there will be a breakthrough. Hopefully, New York will change the outdated and inhumane laws that keep such vital information from adult adoptees who have as much right to the information about their own roots as anyone else. But in the meantime, Jen would appreciate any assistance in obtaining a key piece of information that might help to solve her puzzle.

She was born in Amsterdam Memorial Hospital September 23, 1978. Her mother was 25 at the time, 5’5” with light blonde hair and blue eyes, and had three other children at the time of Jen’s birth. She also may have left high school after finishing 10th grade, although it’s not clear whether had attended the Amsterdam City School District or another district nearby.

Quite fittingly, and perhaps as a tribute to 3-year-old Tina, who gave her the nickname, Jen would greatly appreciate that any and all information that could help in her quest be sent to her at katie2ducks@yahoo.com.

 

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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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