What Happens to the Original Birth Certificate When an Adoption is Finalized?

You mean besides legally robbing someone of his or her identity?

Tom Andriola April 19, 2016
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Lies. Fabrications. Secrets. These are but a few words that describe the process of the sealing of the Original Birth Certificate (OBC) that occurs upon the finalization of an adoption. In its place is an “amended birth certificate,” one that lists the adoptive parents while maintaining the place of birth, birth date, and other information relative to the birth.

When the adoption is finalized, in other words, the identity of the adoptee is stolen, hidden, and kept secret—by law—even after the adoptee has become an adult. This civil rights atrocity is most often ignored by legislators, although there have been a handful of states in recent years which have patronizingly allowed adoptees to beg for and receive their personal information when they reach the age of majority, though in some cases this is allowed if, and only if, their biological parent says they are all right with it.

In the other states, the pleas for revealing the truth are simply ignored. Adoptees, unfortunately, lack a well-funded, well-organized advocacy group to help make things right for them across the nation. So the fight for unsealing the truth continues. And any successes are likely to continue to be mitigated by ridiculous concessions like the one that allows for birth parents to file a “no-contact preference” that keeps the record sealed in the State of Washington, for example.

So what happens to the OBC before an adoption is finalized? It’s unsealed and available upon request.

For the foster child who has aged out of the system, it’s available.

For the child whose parents are estranged, it’s available.

For the child with the absentee father, it’s available.

For the child born out of wedlock, it’s available.

The OBC becomes sealed and the identity of the adoptee hidden only upon the finalization of an adoption. Does that make any sense at all?

I don’t think so.

It’s high time to end the discrimination and keep the truth unsealed.

In all circumstances.

For everyone.

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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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