Adoption has become a political hot topic in the last few years. What better time to discuss these issues then during National Adoption Awareness Month.
Evolving from a controversial “closed” secretive past filled with shame where women went into hiding, to a postmodern “open” adoption era where women are posing as social media “poster” birth moms, we have seen a shift in adoption. However, when it comes to OBCs, adoption remains stagnant and secretive. Adoptees are trying to change that.
Most states implemented sealed records during a time when women had few rights or choices and were oftentimes railroaded towards relinquishment. One could argue that these laws were enacted to punish un-wed mothers, an estimated 1.5 million women, who were sent away to hide their pregnancy and the birthing of their child. There was deep shame associated with an unplanned pregnancy. Families did everything they could to sweep these babies under the rug and hide their very existence. Erasing the child that was born out of wedlock was supposed to save the mother and child from societal disgrace. In turn, it would also save the family from scandal.
While laws to protect secrets may have been intended for one purpose, it resulted in a far greater impact that violated adult adoptee’s rights.
One strong debate for OBC access is regarding medical history for adoptees. Adoption should not come at the expense of vital information.
Humans have an innate yearning to know where they came from. Adoptees should not be judged for wanting to know their DNA history, no matter how a blended-family was formed.
Adoptee Rights Groups are fighting hard with some success nationwide. Seven states have enacted less restrictive laws in the last three years. Currently, nine states have unrestricted access to OBCs. Eleven have access with restrictions, and nine have partial access or partial access with restrictions. The remaining states, including Texas, are sealed.
This political cause is relevant, sensible, and in need of fresh eyes and modern laws enacted. Adoptees do not remain children forever. They grow up. They become adults with rights like every other American. Access to our own birth records should not be determined based on our biological, step, foster, or adoptive family status.
Family is Family. Rights are Rights.
To learn more, please read my Op-Ed in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung