I submitted testimony in support of House Bill 5408, which would allow Connecticut adoptees adopted prior to October 1, 1983 to obtain their original birth certificates.
Up until this month, I had never done anything to advocate for open records, other than blogging about it here. By nature, I am not an activist or rabble-rouser. I always tried to please my parents, keep my editors happy, follow the rules and laws. I don’t march in marches or protest at demonstrations. It’s not that I don’t care deeply about things. I respect and support the activists who fight for the causes I believe in but I don’t join them in the trenches.
Original Birth Certificates Reveal Truths
In my heart, I’ve always believed adoptees deserve to know the truth about their roots. Knowing the truth about my natural mother and father is satisfying. It gives me peace of mind. Obtaining my original birth certificate from the state of Illinois was the first step.
That piece of paper was full of revelations. It disclosed my mother’s identity, her age, home address, place of birth and other important facts. Maybe the most surprising thing for me was learning that Lillian was 28 and married when she had me. Unlike my official birth certificate, my OBC included Lillian’s signature. Seeing it felt special, kind of personal.
Access to original birth certificates should not divide adoptees into the “haves” and the “have-not’s.” All adopted adults should be able to get their OBCs without having to jump through hoops.
My Testimony on Behalf of Open Records for Adoptees
Fellow adoptee Karen Oestreicher Caffrey pushed me to action. “Hope you can submit testimony by this Thursday in support of House Bill 5408,” Karen wrote in a Facebook message that popped up on my cell phone.
Here’s what I wrote:
On behalf of Access Connecticut, I am writing to express my support for HB5408.
The legislature should restore the right of every adopted adult citizen in Connecticut to obtain a copy of her original, true birth certificate. All adult adoptees deserve unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. Not allowing all adoptees to obtain this important document is discrimination. People who are not adopted take this information for granted. There is no justification for treating adopted adults differently than people who are not adopted. It’s a basic human and civil right to know one’s biological origins.
As an adoptee who was born in Illinois, I was able to obtain a copy of my original birth certificate. That piece of paper revealed important facts about my mother and helped me connect with my mother’s other daughter, my half-sister. Using DNA tests, I was able to learn my father’s identity and establish a friendly relationship with his oldest daughter, my half-sister. Learning about my origins has brought me peace of mind. When I go to the doctor, I can answer questions about my family medical history, just like everyone else.
I urge the legislature to do the right thing and approve House Bill 5408, An Act Concerning Access to Original Birth Records by Adult Adopted Persons.
Supporting open birth records for adoptees is great. But it’s not enough. Letting the lawmakers know why openness is important can make a difference in people’s lives.
You can learn more about the movement at the Access Connecticut Adoptee Rights page on Facebook.