Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adoptee Rights are Heating up in Ohio

My sealed birth certificate

Historic events happened in Columbus, Ohio yesterday.  Not only was the vote UNANIMOUS in favor of the Adoptee Rights Bill (which will open birth certificates to adoptees between 1964-1996 and allow birth parents a contact preference form), the Catholic Conference of Ohio actually provided written support of HB 41!  This is in follow up to another practical miracle -- Ohio Right to Life backed us as well.  As Marley Greiner of Bastard Nation has been quoted as saying, "Pigs Really Do Fly!"

Me with some fancy flying pigs
I wish I could have been there but I got an account from a friend.  We all spent the previous day sending in our last-minute testimonies.  (you can find my testimony here).


My best friend who has lived in Australia for 17 years (an Ohio adoptee) sent in her testimony.  I am posting my favorite part of it because it shows the opposite nature of how adoption is handled in Australia:

"Although I am a citizen of the United States I am currently residing in Australia. This is where we have adopted our son and have been asked from the beginning of our application how we would do our part to keep information always available to both our son and his birth mother. Adoption records are not sealed in Australia. They are kept until the adoptee turns eighteen. Then the adoptee only has to write or come into the records department and show proof of identity and they may have their records. If they ring any of the adoption departments, they are always encouraged to come in and have a look at their records. There has never been a problem with open adoption. It is encouraged here as it should be everywhere."
As I read this part of her testimony I thought back to the many stories I've heard from adoptees across the United States.  The story usually goes like this:  The adoptee is sitting across the desk from a social worker who gets to read the file but will not give any identifying information to the adoptee. Interesting twist on privacy when you think about this complete stranger to my adoption getting to absorb all the details of my life without sharing them with me.   Yes, and it still is happening in social work offices across all of the United States even today because even though birth certificates are available to a minority of adoptees, adoption records still are closed in most cases.
I was sharing the good news about HB41 with my friend, Beth McCrea, who is active in adoptee rights in New Brunswick, Canada and she said this:

"Why should a social work student have the right to go through an adopted person's personal records and gain all knowledge and then mete out only non-identifying information to the rightful owner? PAS offices frequently use students. I don't know the regulations in Ohio, but here in NB and many states, adoptees are not permitted to work in Post Adoption Services at all. Discrimination!!"



I was quite shocked to learn this.


But let's get back to the good news:

It was reported that the room was packed at the House yesterday (standing room only) and that adoptees and birth mothers were crying and hugging each other!

A momentous day for adoptee rights!

I love Ohio!!


6 comments:

  1. I was there yesterday and it was a great moment to hear each rep individually vote yes. On to the next step!
    Sara

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  2. Good news! Let's hope the rest of the process goes as smoothly.

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  3. Any Ideas how I can find my brother who was born in Michigan in 1958 adopted out of Ohio later than 1964

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  4. Hi Sheryl. Michigan is a closed birth certificate state; however, you can start with signing up at ISSR. http://www.isrr.net/

    I would get on Facebook and become a member of search groups and locate a search angel. Lots of reunions are taking place quickly via Facebook.

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  5. Sheryl, it looks like isrr has moved to this address:

    http://www.isrr.org/

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