Every adopted person deserves access to the truth… because it’s their truth.
The truth of their beginnings belongs to them, after all. But it’s a strange injustice that adults who were once adopted (without any consent on their part) are still being denied access to the truth of their beginnings, in most of the U.S., even today.
It may sound bizarre, but in the 21st century, it is still common practice for courts all across America to “seal” original birth certificates for children being adopted (in Texas, for 99 years following finalization) and issue a falsified government document that erases any record of the biological parents’ identity on what’s called the “revised” birth certificate. The adoption records are locked away by law, and even when those with serious medical conditions (or senior citizens who were adopted decades ago) seek to obtain their birth records, they are routinely told that the documents cannot be released to them without their parents’ permission or a judge’s consent.
This is the tragic result of a bygone era, when being born “outside of wedlock” was considered a lifelong stain on one’s reputation, and when folks mistakenly thought it was best for adoptees to never know they were ever adopted. (Learn more about the secrecy and shame of closed adoption era here.)
Clearly, times have changed, and society knows better now (or at least we should!) Illegitimacy is no longer a lasting social stigma. Open adoption research has documented the importance of enabling children being adopted to grow up knowing their origins. At Abrazo, we believe that the healthiest families are those without secrets, and we rely on the legally-contracted promises of our adoptive families to raise their children with knowledge of and access to their birthfamilies–from Day One, onwards.
There are currently 10 states that recognize an adopted persons basic right to obtain their own original birth certificate without restrictions. Texas is not one of them… yet.
Current Texas law creates different classes of adoptees, some with more rights than others. Yet all Texas adoptees are denied a right all other Texans have: to have their own original birth certificate and to know their full Texas heritage.
All across the nation, for decades, adoptees have fought for this basic human and civil right- to know their own truth- and to have full access to the document that originally established them as a citizen of their state and country. In growing numbers, adoptees are speaking out about their lived experiences and reclaiming the narrative around adoption. Adoptees, after all, are the true experts on being adopted.
Secrecy in adoption creates shame for adoptees and openness is now understood as best practice in adoption. State laws should comport with best practices. At Abrazo, we support this movement wholeheartedly.
We beg you to join us in the fight to implement adoptee equality legislation in Texas and to recognize the right of every adoptee to own the truth of their own beginnings.
We ally with the Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition and Support Texas Adoptee Rights (STAR)
Let’s work together to restore equality to all Texas adoptees.