Dear Texas Adoptee…
Dear Texas Adoptee…
We regret to inform you that (barring any last-minute miracles,) the Texas Legislature has once again drawn to a close without responding to the cries of thousands of Texas adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, adoption professionals and other concerned citizens who plead every year on behalf of adoptee rights.
The average Texan may think that our dear Texas adoptees have the same civil rights as any other American, yet that would (sadly) be wrong.
Sure, you can attend public school here, vote and pay taxes here.
You can register for the draft as required by law.
You can even come testify before a Senate subcommittee hearing about what it’s like to be an adoptee in Texas.
But if you were adopted in Texas and you’re over the age of 18, you cannot see nor have the piece of paper by which the State of Texas documented the true facts of your birth.
Read that again: if you were adopted in Texas, no matter long ago you became a legal adult, you cannot obtain a copy of your original birth certificate— not unless you already know your birthmother’s name or you paid an attorney to get a court order signed by a judge allowing you access under extreme circumstances.
Now, mind you, every other American has access to their original birth certificate, if they were not adopted.
But not you– not if you were born and adopted in Texas. You’re different, according to the State. You are not entitled to the same civil rights as everybody else born here in the Lone Star State, through no fault of your own.
That’s the question that gets raised by adoption reform advocates in every Legislative session, every other year, since 1991. Why is the average Texas adoptee of age 19-109 not permitted to access the one unaltered legal document that is unarguably “theirs” from the day of their birth, onwards? Why shouldn’t adult adoptees in Texas have the means to obtain updated family medical information? Why can’t adult adoptees in Texas know the truth of their ethnicity? Why shouldn’t they have the ability to avoid dating or marrying birthrelatives? Why aren’t they be able to apply for passports as easily as any other adult legally-born in Texas?
These questions were given voice by a large contingent of citizens concerned about adoption rights. Many were part of S.T.A.R. (Support Texas Adoptee Rights), an advocacy group that has worked tirelessly for years in its efforts to secure original birth certificate access for adopted adults in Texas, educating the public and lawmakers alike about the need for adoptee rights legislation here.
This legislative session, Senator Brandon Creighton filed SB 329 in hopes of resolving these questions for once and for all, and we thank Senator Bettencourt, Senator Birdwell, Senator Estes, Senator Garcia, Senator Lucio, Senator Menendez, Senator Miles, Senator Perry, Senator Rodriguez, Senator Seliger, Senator Van Taylor, and Senator Watson for having the integrity to join him in this quest. We thank also Representative Joe Deshotel, sponsor of the companion bill HB547, and his honorable cosponsors, Representative Metcalf, Representative Minjarez, Representative Thompson, Representative Parker and Representative Farrar.
Tragically, however, the best intentions of many were once again seemingly foiled by the opposition of few. It seems that something about truth and transparency is somehow threatening to those who still subscribe to the outdated concept of adoption being a dirty secret best kept hidden. And the power apparently wielded by the individual(s) that feel(s) this way is costing thousands of Texans born and adopted here to yet again be denied their own truth, for yet another two years, until the next Texas Legislature reconvenes in 2019.
What can you do?
As any adoptee can tell you, some of the worst feelings are those of insignificance and being powerless; having your voice disregarded by those who should be listening, and being as powerless as an adult as were you were as a baby to influence the choices being made on your behalf.
We genuinely apologize for the State of Texas’ failure, once again, to bring this adoptee rights bill to the floor for a vote, as it should have. This is inexcusable, in our opinion, and we cannot fathom how we are to explain this lack of regard for your rights, as a Texas-born adopted adult citizen of the United States.
However, we want to assure you that you are not powerless– and we (those who support adoptee rights in Texas) are not giving up. You can (and should) help in the quest to enact legislation in Texas that will uphold the rights of all Texas-born adopted adults in this State, for once and for all.
Start by joining S.T.A.R. in the important work they do. (They can’t do all the heavy lifting alone, after all.)
But don’t stop there: make your voice be heard. Contact your legislator and tell them why adoptee rights legislation is important to you– whether you are an adoptee or birthparent or adoptive parent, or whether you just care about someone who is.
And finally, help vote to put into office those who recognize and support adoptee rights. Urge those around you to do the same. Those who oppose adoptee rights must be opposed: it’s just that simple.
We didn’t get the job done this legislative session, unfortunately, but not for lack of trying.
We are behind you, dear Texas adoptee… and we will continue the fight to get the right thing done here in the Lone Star State: that’s a promise.