Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Birth Certificates at Center of Bill"

Published in today's Times Union:

"One bill in the state Legislature demands passage on humane grounds alone: the Adoptee Rights Bill. It would return to people who were adopted the right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate.

Even if we assume that the 1935 law that sealed their birth records was passed with good intentions -- to reassure adoptive parents that the natural mother could not interfere, and to validate the adopted person's place in the new family -- it is well past time for repeal.

In real life, one cannot cut off the past and pretend it does not matter. Simple stories that satisfied when adoptees were young become inadequate when they grow up. It is part of the human condition to want to know where we came from.

And mothers like me, who gave up their children 30, 40 or 50 years ago, do not get on with our lives without wondering and worrying what happened to them.

Yes, there are some who would stay hidden from their offspring, but "protecting" them by law demands that the state continue to trample the rights of others, the adopted. Yet the law sealing their birth certificates never included this "right" to parents' privacy from their own children that is now bandied about by some legislators as the reason to keep the records sealed.

If America is the land of the free, people adopted as children must have the same rights as the rest of us, that is, to fully answer the question: Who am I? It's only human to want to know.

Lorrainne Dusky
Sag Harbor

The writer is the author of the memoir Birthmark and blogs at Birth Mother, First Mother Forum. She was a reporter for the former Knickerbocker News."