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What Does an Adopted Child’s Birth Certificate Look Like?

FosterMommy's picture

By FosterMommy - Posted on 29 August 2008

Congratulations, you have adopted a child. Once finalization of your child’s adoption takes place you become the child’s legal parent in every way, just as if you had given birth to the child. The court will give you a document finalizing the adoption. Then, after several weeks, your child’s new birth certificate will arrive one day in your mailbox. Your name, and your spouse’s name if applicable, will be on the birth certificate just as if you were the birth parent/s. In fact, nobody who looks at the birth certificate, without looking at the adoptive parent/s, would be able to tell whether you are the birth parent/s or not.

There are little clues on the adoptive birth certificate to give clues to the very observant person who actually cares, or is just plain nosey. One clue would be the date filed, although that is not conclusive evidence. If the child is older, two or more, and the date filed is the current year, then you might suspect that the child is adopted, because birth certificates are usually filed within days of a child’s birth.

If the person looking at the birth certificate, is also looking at the adoptive parent/s, and is actually paying attention to the information, there may be some other clues to indicate that the child might be adopted. Some states still list the race of the parents and of the child on birth certificates. If the parents are listed on the child’s birth certificate as black and the child as Caucasian, or vise versa, then that would be a clue that the child might be adopted.

A relatively new clue has emerged in states that allows same sex marriage. If both parents listed on the birth certificate have typical masculine names or typical feminine names then the observer might wonder if the child is adopted. If a person is looking at both parents, while looking at the birth certificate with the parents’ names, and can see an obvious gender discrepancy, then adoption is probably considered.

Otherwise, if you have a birth certificate from the state you adopting from, then your child’s birth certificate will probably look about the same. However, I have noticed that some states have stopped listing race. Eventually, states may also stop listing mother and father, and instead list parent one and parent two, or some version thereof.


photo credit: Julia Fuller


LisaS's picture

Our daughter's birth certificate is called "Delayed Certificate of Birth" and lists her country of birth, mine and my husbands. It is an eye catcher.

Lisa S. 

John's picture

Single father adoption is easy to spot. The line for 'Mother' is blank. You do have to explain how that could happen. John

Michael's picture

I never really thought about that!

However, in situations where a mother gives birth, and the father disputes paternity, his name is not listed on the birth certificate (BC) unless he agrees to sign.  At least this is how it works in California.  When we received a copy of our son's original BC, only our son's birth mother's name was listed.

FosterMommy's picture

I'm sorry John, I didn't even think about your unique scenario. That must really cause a double-take. FM

Michael's picture

(I tried to post this comment earlier, so if it is a duplicate I apologize)

We were told, if I remember correctly, that the child's amended birth certificate (BC) would be noted as "amended."  I wish I could provide some evidence to support this, but the judge who finalized our son's adoption told us that the State of California takes roughly 11 months (give or take a month or two) to update the birth records, certify the amended BC and send it out to the parents.  Also, I cannot attest to whether I will be listed as a "parent," or either "mother" or "father."  If it is the latter, I wonder which one I will be?  ;)

Michael's picture

The terms used are "parent/mother" and "parent/father."  Haven't they thought of everything?

AdoptAuthor's picture

1. Why would you want to keep it a secret?

2. Do you not think there is a problem with your child being denied the truth of their birth?

JuliaFuller's picture

#1, not all adoptive parents tell their children that they are adopted. I know a family right now with 5 adopted children, the 15 yo thinks he is a birth child and that everyone else is adopted. I'm sure it will be very difficult when he finds out. Another family just told their 17 yo, actually PGM told him in anger. We also had a guestblog from a man who recently found out at 35 that he was adopted.

#2 Evidence indicates that it is easier on the child to "always know" ie we start talking about it at birth and continue the story with more detail as the child ages. This is the case with all 7 of our adopted children. However, there are adoptive parents who have trouble "sharing" their child, or feel that it divides the child's loyalty or somehow affects how the child will love the adoptive parents. There are also some stories that cannot be fully disclosed until the child reaches a maturity level to handle or understand the information, ie rape, physical abuse, incest.


Can't and Won't never accomplished anything.

AdoptAuthor's picture

Yes, Julia, thank you.

As a researcher with 30 years in adoption research I am well aware of what you are saying. As an activist for families and children I find it reprehensible and sad and likewise the tone of this blog post which seems to condone unhealthy secret keeping.

It would behoove all who adopt to be less interested in protecting secrets and more concerned with the welfare of their children's lives such as their ability to access medical histories and to work together with adult adoptees who are seeking to be treated as human beings with dignity and rights of those not adopted and allowed equal free access to their original and true birth certificate, not infanticide and held captive by their adopters.

The continuation of adoption as a "dirty little secret" is very harmful because as we all know - even the best kept secret eventually leaks out and causes great feelings of anger and betrayal. Such efforts to lie should always be discouraged as unhealthy for the child and dangerous for the parents who might well be the target of their anger when they discover the hoax perpetrated against them. no one like to feel that their life is a dirty secret too shameful to openly speak of! This has horrible ramifications on the formation of young adults identity and self esteem.

Informed, loving, caring adoptive parents are part of ghe fight to end the secercy and return adoptees their rights.

Anyone considering adoption is best to consider NOT playing in this charade and allowing their child's authentic original identity to remain intact a has been done all over the world and in the U.S. prior to the 1940s. Secrecy in adoption is a relatively new and failed experiment. It serves only gray market baby brokers who operate better under the cloak of secrecy, and selfishly insecure adopters who view their children as possessions they fear losing.

John's picture

So the kid keeps the original first, middle and last names? That is fine if this is just a babysitting service. If this is adoption, the adoptive family agrees in court to raise this child "as their natural child, as though he had been born to them", this is a fresh start, not a service to the birth parents. He becomes their child, no that doesn't mean he has no past, but he is no longer defined soley by that past. He becomes a full memeber of his new family, and gets their last name. No name change, and it is just babysitting.

In no way does the name change affect the access to original information, in foster care adoption the family almost always has a copy of the original. In today's world, even in infant adoption, the family is very likely to know the birth mother.

Birth information is important, but no where near as important as the child being able to have a family that is his, where he belongs to them and they belong to him. Sorry about that, but the searching/birthparent issues are minor in comparison to belonging. There was a reason why they made a switch in the 1940s.


Authentic identity? Original and True birth certificates? So the adoption is all fakery? There are millions of adoptees that would tell you that is wrong. Be clear, you are oriented to the birth families, and do not support adoption. Yes, you are an activist for families, birth families.

AdoptAuthor's picture

here are millions of adoptees who'd disagree? Really! Show them to me. As I said, I have been researching adoption issues and have been in personal touch with all side sod the triad for more than 30 years.

I can put you touch with hundreds who do believe it is fakery to change their identity without their consent.

And, as I said...adoption (not babysitting) was always done that way until greedy baby brokers discovered it was in THEIR best interest to sell babies "as if born to" and also to hide the way the babies were obtained, by FALSIFYING birth records! Internationally, forging papers is part of child trafficking making it despicable that the U.S. of A. allows state governments to falsify the most important legal document a person has and the basis for all other iD: their birth certificate.

Is a name really what makes one feel a part of a family? Why is it then that many women today chose not to take their husband's name when marrying. And what about children raised in such families who do not share the same name with one of their parents? Does that reduce those people to babysitters?

If it bothers a child old enough to make such a choice - say over 12 - then one can take them to court and do a simple name change. But it keeps the integrity of their original identity.

Ask adoptees who are campaigning state by state to have their rights restored how they feel! PL-EASE!

John's picture

Yes, AA, there are adoptees who complain bitterly about the birth information being changed. As you know, that is a very small minority, who happens to also be very loud. The baby industry, as you call it, was not alive and well in the 1940s, they came along well after that. In that era, adoptions almost always were through the public agencies. The laws were changed by the states, working with these public agencies, who did NOT make any profit on infant adoptions, there were way more infants avalible than families to take them. Their objective was to place kids in families that would belong to the child. Not actually a bad objective.

Talk to kids who do have a different name than their families, ie, Mom remarries. They almost always dislike being different and not having the same name. I have five sons from the system. They are all clear that they wanted the name change, they wanted to be the same as the rest of us. Kids want to belong, to fit, to be the child of their parents.

AdoptAuthor's picture

Be amazed: READ! Read the history of sealed adoption records in the US and read about Georgia Tann who began selling babies in the 1920s and Bessie Bernard who did likewise at a similar time on the east coast.

Educate yourself on the FACTS, John, before you click away at your keyboard and post comment on blogs filled with inaccuracies.

You might start with the very simple and neutral Adoption History Project or Oregon University.

Other good resources that debunk adoption mythology are available at:


John's picture

There were private agencies in that era, but few. The vast majority of placements were by public agencies. It was the public agencies that pushed the ideas included in those laws, and had the political clout to make it happen. Real money didn't enter baby adoptions until after Roe vs Wade, and the resulting decrease in the number of babies avalible.

Tann and Bernard were bad apples, unfortunately bad guys do exist. That does not make adoption bad. Wait a minute, I though you said records began to be sealed in the 1940s, now Tann was able to make use of that in the 1920s? Belive it or not there is at least a 20 year difference there.

Simple truth AA, it is the adoptive parents who are the real family to the child, not the birth parents. No, some birth parents do not like their names being redacted from the birth certificate, and strongly disagree with the adoptive parents having the right to rename the child. They couldn't stand the heat, and they got out of the kitchen. Now they want to claim that they were the chef and should be able to take credit for all that happened. There is no free lunch.

AdoptAuthor's picture


I cannot tell you how very disturbing, hurtful and insulting to all adoptees your comment that adoptees who "complain" are a bitter minority.

The major reason there are not more adoptees speaking our publicly is because of people like you who make them feel they are ungrateful bastards, disgruntled or malcontent for their normal healthy curiosity and asking for nothing more than EQUALITY!

One person denied equal rights is on to many so who cares how many have the courage to speak out publicly. Wanna know why fewer adoptees speak out publicly than do gays? Because they have more SHAME, and feel less of a sense of entitlement to their own ID. How sad is that?

MANY are ingrained with such a deep seated fear of rejection and abandonment that they don't dare rock the boat and "upset" their adoptive parents by openly protesting for their rights or letting them know of their searches and reunions.

But how many do you think quietly search - underground, making them into criminals to access what all others (including YOU!) take for granted - paying money and jumping through insane and degrading hoops. Then, they meet US, their REAL, AUTHENTIC progenitors, and keep it a secret - still in fear of parents like you and the author of this blog post. They KNOW you want it kept a secret and is a forbidden topic to discus. And, after all, they are used to a lifelong climate of secrecy and phoniness - like a certificate of BIRTH that lists those who did not give birth as having done so! Hmm, wonder how you single men accomplish that feat! Talk about bizarre!

AngelaW's picture

"all" is a counter productive word to use in these types of conversations. I don't think any of us can claim to speak for an entire class of people. We can share our opinions and stories.

I went and asked my brother (he was adopted as a 3 year old) if he was insulted by John's comment. He wasn't. My brother doesn't speak out about adoption/open records because he really doesn't care about it. I should note that my brother was emotionally blackmailed into reunion with his birth family. It was an unpleasant experience for him. Searching/reunion didn't require access to OBC for him either. 

"many" is also a tricky word to use in these types of conversations. Many can mean more then two. If that is how you mean it, then I agree. There are many adoptees who have rejection and abandonment fears. There are many adoptees who don't have these fears.


The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

AdoptAuthor's picture

Who knows? Statistics of all kinds are scant in adoption.

Concerned United Birthparents, for example, has approx 300 members, is that many enough for you? I personally surveyed 600 mothers who lost children to adoption about their concerns regarding anonymity. In 1998, more than 500 mothers who lost children to adoption signed an ad in the Oregonian in support of opening the sealed records in that state. Is that Many enough? You'd have to check with Bastard Nations and ALMA for their membership figures. Or the American Adoption Congress which supports an end to sealed adoption records and advocates for openness and honesty in all adoption practices; or the Evan B. Donaldson institute on Adoption and Ethica who likewise do....- as do ALL, yes ALL, child advocates. Those opposed to openness in adoption are those who profit from family separations.

But the issue is equality. As such it does not matter if just one person is denied his civil rights, does it?

Many people don't assert their right to vote? They have no interest whatsoever or feel it a bother. Does that mean that others should be denied that right? What about thousands of people who have no desire to adopt a child? Should that stop those who want to - and let;s be very clear: adopting is NOT a right, it's a privilege.

Your noting that access to an OBC is not required to complete a search and reunion is another important factor. The two issues are separate. People search and ruenite all the time. This BTW indicates that efforts to keep secrets are futile!

The fear of honest birth certificates is the fear of the adoptive family being "at risk" for being found by the original family. The fear of the Little League coach "knowing" is not in the interest of protecting children from jeers of their peers, it's that of a child's secret adoption status being revealed to HIM (not to others).

That is all a separate from the principle of being denied a basic human right and that is what MANY adoptees - and many of their mothers, along with many adoptive parents and adoption experts and child and human rights advocates - are fighting for, and have been ever since the the records were sealed in the 1940s (on MOST states).

It is abhorrent that any parent would want to deny their child equal rights. Even just ONE!

half-orphan's picture
John, I haven't posted here in months because I'm care-taking for my 93 year old adoptive mother, and was co-care-taking for my natural father until last year (he has other adult children, Mom only has me), and coping with my own declining health.   I'm BAACCKKK!!!   My God, man! How hateful for adoptive parents to assume that they take over their adoptee's life and personal paperwork! You are a product of the possessiveness of a sick, demented adopted culture!   Adoptees were born to two people and that is FACT. Adoptions recorded as fiction on false birth certificates undermine the adoptee's personal and civil rights, and undermine the adoptive parent-child relationship.   I am being very clear: I, like many other adoptees and first parents, are fed up with adoptive parents such as yourself! YOU are possessive and extreemly disrespectful to adoptees!   My adoption is not all fakery, but my second birth certificate is. Let me be clear: To be honest in adoption, all adoptions should NOT be recorded as false births! Adoptions should be recorded in open-access Certificates of Adoption. On this document, all adoption information should be recorded, including indicating the parents by adoption, and the name change (if any --- this is optional to change an adoptee's name) of the adoptee, and the date and place of adoption.   This is how it is done in progressive countries such as The Netherlands: respect is given to the adoptee by acknowledging the adoptee's identity at birth (full name), and the parents of birth, and the date and time and place of birth on a birth certificate. When a child is adopted, that chid is given an Adoption Certificate which accurately states the facts of adoption.   Millions of adoptees have been fighting for their rights to their true birth certificates LONG before you became an adoptive father, John! I have been reunited LONG before you became an adoptive father! At the age of 18, in 1974, I was found by four older full-blood siblings that my selfish adoptive parents did not want ot me ever know --- and these siblings lived les than six miles from me all of my life! The shock and horror of my adoptive parents' lies and willfill deception cause me incredible emotional pain.   There have been adoptees who have died after searching for their natural families for years without ever having a resolution. Because adoptees have been purposefully lied to, deceived by their so-called loving adoptive parents, and extended family, too, many adoptees are so screwed up that they actually believe the bullshit that their "only parents are the ones who raised them". It is brainswahing, John.   And my adoptive mother used that tired line of "What are we, your babysitters?" as she screamed at me when I was 18 years old and still in high school. I had just told her I was found by my siblings. The way she reacted you would have thought I had just confessed to killing someone! No, John, you  do not own your adoptees. You share them. Only adoptees know the inner torture of the contradictions that they must live by --- adoptees --- ALL ADOPTEES --- have two sets of real parents!   The truth of the matter is: our birth certificates were stolen from us. We want them back! Your name on a false record of birth does not make you a father by birth, nor does it make you a father. You are an adoptive father and the papers to proove you are an adoptive father should state "ADOPTIVE FATHER" not "Father" by implication of birth.   This is all lies, disrespect, and creates distrust. I know how it feels to be deceived by the parents who raised me. I have been betrayed by them and their intentional lies.   For 35 years I have fought to regain my civil rights and those of all adoptees to their true birth certificates.   JOHN, you are not dealing with realtity. REALITY IS: ALL ADOPTEES HAVE TWO SETS OF REAL PARENTS.   "Searching/birthparents issues are minor in comparrsion to belonging"  --- OH MY GOD!!! If you do not respect the parents who gave your adoptee LIFE, you are negating who your adoptee is! All adoptees have a dual reality --- they know that even if others around them deny it!   [AngelaW: Edited to remove name calling. See blog/comment policy if you have any questions.]   Yes, I am angry and ragefull... I am not a possession.      
AngelaW's picture

I removed some naming calling from your post.

I don't know of all John's back story... or where his passion on this subject comes from. But all view points can be posted here.

But I am pretty sure he doesn't see his children as a possession. He adopted and parented 5 teenage boys from foster care. Some have some very intense mental health issues and aren't capable of living independently as an adult.


The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

O Solo Mama's picture

About telling the child he or she is adopted:

"However, there are adoptive parents who have trouble "sharing" their child, or feel that it divides the child's loyalty or somehow affects how the child will love the adoptive parents."

As an a-parent, I must admit to being a little freaked out by the prospect of any adoptive parent thinking this was OK in this day and age. Is this not covered in basic Adoption 101? Never, never, never lie about this? Imagine the fate of the child who, grown into adulthood, discovers not only that he or she is adopted but that there's a good chance of never accessing the OBC or personal history? I can't begin to imagine the sense of betrayal or outrage. How many lies do you have to tell to pass this off for 17 years, btw?

Far better for the child for everyone to acknowledge both sets of parents and, even in the case of kids who are neglected or abused, to acknowledge that as a-parents we are privileged to be raising other people's children. Adoptive children are not there to fulfill our needs; we are there to meet theirs.

I do understand that feeling of wanting to protect our turf; it's a common feeling initially, especially when you're a new mom or dad. But this is something that needs to be confronted and talked about in the pre-adoption phase so a-parents can feel safe, and safe discussing adoption openly.

I was sorry to hear some folks out there thought this was even an option.

pennagal's picture

A friend of mine who is an adoptive dad asked the social worker when they should tell their son about being adopted and she said, "on the way home."


As far back as when I was placed with my family in 1953, professionals advised this. We found a clipping in my father's things after he died. It was enclosed in a letter from his S-I-L and taken from an advice column cautionting adoptiveparents not to hide this information. And that is what the SW advised them also.


I don't rememeber being told because my parents started so early and it was never a problem for me. I know a number of LDAs (late discover adoptees) for whom the news was devastating. Interestingly, the secret keeping coincided with troubled placements in which the adoptee had a poor relationship with the adoptive mother.

Amyadoptee's picture

My amended birth certificate just states my adopted name, my place of birth and date of birth, my adoptive parents names and state of birth.  My birth certificate was not filed until three weeks later. I am not allowed access to the long form of my birth certificate.  I am still not allowed access to my original birth certificate.  I am a 43 year old woman who is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, veteran, worker bee and other roles.  If I am trusted enough with the country's secrets and delivering the country's mail, certainly I can be trusted with my own information. 

Now lets discuss the falseness of birth certificates even original birth certificates.  Yes it does happen.  It still happens even to this day.  One state even allows the place of birth to be changed.  I know an adoptee whose entire file was falsified including the original birth certificate.  In fact, I know quite a few. Some state agencies require that you know all of the names used by the birth parents.

As an adoptee activist, I am disgusted by the changing of information.  If I had not searched, I would not have known the time of my birth nor my weight and length.  I still do not know the hospital that I was born in nor do I know the doctor who delivered me.  That information is considered identifying information. 

Please understand too that the women from my era (which is prior to 1973) were coerced into relinquishing for the most part.  There were no viable choices for women back in those days.  The records courtesy of Georgia Tann who by the way was trained by Edna Gladney pushed to have records sealed.  The records were sealed to birth parents in the 1930s.  Many adoptees were having their records sealed to them in that time frame as well. 

I realize that John is a foster to adopt parent.  His views are very different that those of an infant adoption or international adoption.  One must remember that an adoptive parent would not be without a birth parent who relinquished.  In my mind, both are equal.  I know for me that I love both sets of parents. 

Some very interesting reads would be Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away, Family Matters by E. Wayne Carp, and Measure 58 and Bastard Nation by E. Wayne Carp.  Elizabeth Samuels is also another one that has a great timeline of events for the sealing of records and birth certificates.  The records were sealed to protect the adoptive family unit.  The records were also sealed to protect the adoption agencies themselves. Not all adoption agencies are bad but most have secrets in their closets.  It usually centers around coercion, deception, and pure theft. 

John's picture

That is different Amy. All five of mine come from different states and each original certificate matches the amended certificate in birth data, all include it, and I have the originals to do the comparison. Sounds like you have the short form. Isn't the long form amended certificate avalible?

Amyadoptee's picture

It is not available to adoptees in the state of Indiana.  I hear they are now also disallowing it to some non adopted individuals but many of those individuals have theirs anyway.  The county offices are giving them to the non adopted but not the state.'s picture
I don't know what states y'all are adopting in but a closed adoption is the most jacked up process in the whole world. I was born in texas in 1984, I was adopted from birth, my adoptive mother is a derranged lunatic who has threatened to kill herself if I ever chose to find my birth mother. After many years of mental torment and agony of dealing with the person I call my mother I decided to attempt to find my roots. Here's the problem in the area of the birtrh certificate that usually has the doctors name and signature etc. Is my adopted mothers name. The document appears to be fraudulent but I am told it is not. The other thing that is strange is my adoption was finalized early 1985 burt my ammended birth certificate was issued just six weeks after I was born. The home study was not performed until after my adoptive parents were chosen to receive me. To really top things off my adoptive parents had only been married for 8 months when they received me. Because of texas laws my parents were allowed to finalize the adoption in a different county, rather than the one of my birth and of residence. Every time I go to the courthouse my adoption was "finalized in" they cannot tell me anything. Not even if it was indeed the courthouse. I'm at a dead end and I feel as if I am being cheated out of my history. I also would love to know my medical background. The funny part is my adoptive parents know that my birth mother had to have a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer. I know tons of adopted people, more sop than not their birth certificates are finalized to hinder the finding of any birth parent. As well more often than not adoptive parents are less than willing to help their children find their birth parents. Its not enough to let a child know they were adopted, and then change their name or any other such matter. Its a total violation of our god given civil rights. No entity or individual should have the right to "close" or "seal" a childs rights to their past! I agree that if a child especially through foster care agrees to have their name changed then that's wonderful. Me and my wife are getting ready to adopt anywhere from 1-4 children through our local cps system if my adoptive children ever want to find their birth parents I will do everything in my power to assist them and even go as far paying for anything neccessary including counsel for preparation in meeting them. P.s. if anybody has any advice on how to find my birth parents it would be much appreciated even my search agent I hired is pretty much stumped, if we can not get the courts to produce any information I'm screwed.
scrapsbynobody's picture

It seems to me, that this discussion is about apples and oranges. Fostermommy, Julia, and John all deal with foster care and older child adoption. Parents of older adopted children know there is nothing closed about their adoption. Not wanting the birth certificate to stick out like a sore thumb and scream "I'm adopted!" is a pretty reasonable thing. This has nothing to do with the idea of concealing or withholding information as in the case of some closed infant adoptions. I know my children are happy to have their new paperwork, and want it to be as normal and inconspicuous as possible. But...they also have access to their full file and copies of their original documents, so for them there are very few unanswered least about the legal end of things. I wrote about this lack of privacy and discomfort with it in a guest blog called "Nothing to Call Their Own".

AdoptAuthor's picture

Thanks for that clarification. I can only reply to what is written. The post begins: "Once finalization of your child’s adoption takes place you become the child’s legal parent in every way, just as if you had given birth to the child." How do you pretend that an older child was born to you? It talks throughout about concern for keeping "your" (the adopters') secret. It does not say anything about trying to protect the child from stigma. Let's be honest, here.

In the example I gave about non-adopted kids and their amended son is now 35 years old and has never been able to obtain a BC that did not show the changes I made when he was an infant. Why should adoptees be any different? Changes happen. Records reflect those changes.

That adoption is not a stigma is more about our attitudes toward it and normalizing it. Not falsifying things makes it more normal, not less. It also does not imply that the ruth of their heritage is a dirty little secret and so are they. I would think this would all be all the more important for older children who KNOW they have a past and a family. Parents teach children respect for all of their relatives - even smelly old aunt Sally and loud Uncle Tim. The same should be true of respecting your child's original family, not eradicating them with white out.

Once a person is old enough to drive their BC becomes virtually useless. no one ever sees it. Prior to that, only a]school official see it. It's not as if their friends are going to see it and tease them. Let's be real here.

scrapsbynobody's picture

If only my children's problem with their birth family was minor as "smelly" or "loud". And I would imagine that if there was a sort of whiteout that could blot out a good deal of their past, they would be applying it liberally. You can talk until your blue in the face about normalizing their adoption, but there's nothing normal about the way they came to be adopted. They could write the book on stigma and "dirty little secrets". It's just not the same thing.

But that is not to say that I don't agree that original birth certificates should be available to adoptees, especially once they are adults. And I am not advocating keeping adoptions secret from adoptees either. Adoptees should have access to their own history, and have the the right to disclose it however THEY choose.

AdoptAuthor's picture

Scrapsbynobudy - Absolutely! It must be THEIR choice! Their choice - not a secret kept from them as is the current case in the law. All caring parents - by birth or adoption - should be on the same page on this issue. Adoptees are human being entitled to same rights as non-adopted people. They do not need to be "protected" from their own truth.

pennagal's picture

As an adult -- AARP member eligible -- who was adopted as an infant and not traumatized by the process, I must weigh in.

I loved my adoptive parents dearly. In fact, I just buried my Mom after caring for her through a long bout with Alzheimer's. I was as much her child as if she had given birth to me, but she didn't. And that made our bond even more special. Ours was a love born of respect and mutual affection. She supported my desire to know the truth. When after years of hitting brick walls, I was ready to give up, she kept me searching because she wanted to be there to support me if what I found caused me pain. And I was reunited with my family of origin when I was 50 years old.

Adoptees, like non adopted adolescents, somewhere between the ages of 16 and 19 need to come to terms with the whole of their identities. This would be so much easier and less fraught with angst if we could simply have our original birth certificates (OBC). Amended birth certificates (ABC) are legally fraudulent documents. Lots of things are legal and totally unethical, this is one of them. I have no problems with name changes although I do respect those parents who do not feel it necessary to completely erase their child's former identity by changing their given names.

Unfortunately, the attitude of many adoptive parents seems to be one of ownership and not in the best sense. I feel very fortunate that I did not experience that. It's perfectly understandable that adoptive parents may feel threatened by their child's family of origin but, sometimes, the ways in which it manifests itself is not healthy for the child. Hiding the fact a child is adopted is dangerous, almost criminal. In fact, some of those practices originated with adoption-for-profit operations in which birth certificates were falsified long before there was a legal mechanism to do so (e.g. Georgia Tann and others). As recently as the 1970s women checked into hospitals under the name of the adoptive mother-to-be so that there would never be an accurate record of the child's birth.

Most adoptive parents probably do not know this. In their desire to become parents and their delight at having a child to call their own, they just cannot allow themselves to recognize that their family is created because another family has been destroyed. As my mother and I read book after book, article after article and developed friendships with other adoptees and other families of origin we learned that there was more under heaven and earth than we had ever dreamed of. Much of it ugly! Children have been and are still trafficked by unscrupulous individuals. There are MANY bad apples and not all of them are caught. I know a woman born in the 1980s in New Jersey whose adoption was never finalized (meaning the final papers were not filed) and whose birth certificate is unofficial, also not registered, but which names her adoptive parents who brought her up up knowing she was adopted.

Original birth records were first sealed in the 1930s in this country and by the late 1940s, they were sealed in all but three states, two of which have never been sealed, another was reopened after a couple of years. In at least one others they were reopened briefly before Catholic Charities discovered it and took action to reseal them. They were sealed, originally, to protect the families created by prying eyes from interference but the intention, originally, was to provide those records to adoptees when they reached adulthood. Social work practice at the time was to carefully preserve all information about the birth family to turn over to the adoptee when they became adults or, in the event of medical need, to the adoptive parents.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before unscrupulous adoption industry practitioners discovered what a bonanza this was. Unwed mothers were pressured to sign away their babies because it was the "best" thing for the child. In some cases, perhaps it was. But it was still coercion. Small wonder, these women later regretted their choice and some tried to reverse it. And that's when the sealing of records began to be interpreted as being sealed ALSO from the person whose birth was recorded. For some years after records were legally "sealed" the court order books sat unguarded on the shelf in many clerk of court offices. So if you were just nosy, you could satisfy your curiosity about someone's origins.

Please acknowledge that, as individuals, we are a product of both our genetics (nature) and our upbringing (nurture). Please don't assume that one cancels out the other. It does not. Respect us as unique individuals with the qualities, good and bad, of both. Don't let the bad qualities we inherit from you be that we are afraid of the truth or ashamed of a part of ourselves.

Natalie14468's picture

John what "era" are you referring to when you say that "in that era there were some private agencies". There were no private agencies. There were private adoptions arranged by attorneys who catered to couples who couldn't adopt by the usual route. Jewish families were not allowed to adopt from Christian agencies and so went the private adoption route. There weren't enough Jewish babies to go to all of them, so many women signed under oath that they were Jewish so that their child could go to a "better home". The babies were usually sold. Everything was kept a tight secret so that the adoptive parents never found out that their baby's mother was really Christian. You think this sort of thing never happened? I know 2 people who were adopted by Jewish families and were from Protestant parents: me and my sister, who is 5 years younger than me. We were both adopted by different families and never told we had a sibling.

Those of us who favor a change in the law to allow adopted adults access to their original birth certificate are not anti-adoption. We are for civil rights and equality. After all, those who aren't adopted have their original birth certificates don't they? We have the right to know our heritage just as everyone else.

John's picture

Natalie, you are correct about private agencies in that era. Some of the private purveyors were in fact high volume, my reference is to those operators, no, in reality they were not agencies, but they operated in their own environment and not under the public purview. Some did a considerable amount of business considering that they were supposed to be one man bands.

My issue is with the idea that an amended certificate ought not be issued after adoption, or that it be clearly flagged as 'ADOPTION'. The issue of access after adulthood is a seprate issue, and has nothing to do with the adopted child getting an amended certificate.

Yes, non adopted folks do have access to their original certificates. There is a difference though, and it is not PC to mention it. Potential placing Mothers from the earlier era knew of the secrecy, and that they could count on placing and not being contacted many years later. Some almost surely placed in part because of that covenant. Access means throwing that covenant out and saying that the adoptee is the only affected party. If the mother doesn't wish disclosure, too bad. Kind of like abortion, only Mom's wishes count, the heck with the baby, but reversed here. More than one person is affected, so both should have the right to say 'no'.

Natalie14468's picture

Why would an adoptive parent keep a child's adoption a secret? This is the worst thing you could do. It shouldn't matter who knows if your child is adopted or not. Being open about this issue gives an adopted child a better chance of growing into a well adjusted adult, not one filled with shame like many of us whose adoption was kept a secret by everyone involved.

pennagal's picture

John, I think there are two major flaws in your argument.

(1) You have bought into the confidentiality scam that adoption-for-profit agencies have used to persuade legislatures to keep the truth under lock and key. I know birth mothers who would rather not announce to the world that they surrendered a child to adoption (because they feel ashamed that they abandoned their own flesh and blood even if they were coerced into doing so). But they are not hiding from their offspring -- they are actively searching and quite willing to talk about it to other triad members. What I hear most of the time is that they had this "confidentiality" nonsense imposed on them. And we have yet to find a single surrender agreement that promises them anonimity, rather it makes it clear that THEY are to be kept in the dark. And, don't forget, there is NO guarantee that an adoption will be successful or permanent. I know of several disrupted adoptions where for one reason or other the child was returned to foster care, resumed their original birth certificate and identity. So if someone made such a promise to a woman relinquishing her child, it was extra-legal and unenforceable.

(2) You confuse access to OBCs with reunions. The main reason that most adoptees search is because they cannot simply access their own personal history. I searched for 19 years because I could not get my OBC. I was not looking for my "mother;" I was looking for myself. No matter how hard you try, nurture does not erase nature. Steven Pinker of MIT and, later, Yale, explains in his several books that the "hard wiring" of our genetics overrides everything else in our development. Genetics determine our coloring, our size, our health, our physical and mental abilities, mannerisms, expressions, and even food tolerances. I imagine that there are thousands of American parents trying to force milk down their Chines-born daughters throats who just haven't grasped that many Asians are lactose intolerant and that, as a culture, they avoid dairy. You can encourage an adopted child's natural proclivities as my parents did or you can do battle with them, as did the parents of two of my closest adopted friends, and produce a poorly-adjusted, recalcitrant, oppositional and/or unhappy child -- one of whom at 50+ is still trying to reconcile who she is with what her adoptive parents wanted her to be.

Kudos to you, Natalie, for asking why anyone would WANT to hide the fact of adoption. Unfortunately, many parents are ashamed of the reason they adopted -- infertility. I think it's sad, if you want to conceive a child and cannot but it certainly is nothing to be ashamed of. Regardless, the problem of infertility should not be visited on the child you adopt. Keeping adoption a secret is akin to making it seem shameful. It's like the crazy aunt or maladjusted cousin that you'd rather not talk about. We no longer hide our eccentric relatives in the attic but people used to do so because we were ashamed of there being something wrong with people in our bloodline. Adoption is NOT a dirty little secret. If you treat it that way, you are asking for trouble. Secrets have a way of coming out, as they did when one of my adoptee friends buried her mother and her paternal uncle took her aside and said "your father always wanted you to know where you came from but your mother forbid him to tell you about the adoption; I promised him on his death bed that, one day, I would." That was a heckuva note at 40-something!

While I do think we go a bit over the top with books about how adoptees are "chosen" whereas, with childbirth, we have to take what we get, I read that book about being chosen. And I got the idea that it wasn't a bad thing. Of course, the fact that children are universally loved and cherished in my family might have had more to do with it than the book. My cousins who came into the family in the conventional way were treated just as lovingly as I was by the whole clan. And I'm closer to my adopted relatives by virtue of time spent bonding with them than I am with my natural relatives who I have only known for about six years. But I love both sets of relatives and I'm certainly richer, emotionally and psychologically, for having both families in my life.

I never met the woman who gave birth to me. She wanted it that way and I respected her wishes. She had suffered a stroke and my sister said that it affected her both physically and mentally. And since I was not looking for a mother, it didn't upset me. Frankly, I thought it would and was surprised to find that I didn't really mind. I now knew her name and the circumstances of my birth -- all I really wanted to know. It was a bonus that I met my sister, her children and grandchildren and several cousins and I consider myself very lucky to have them -- they are salt-of-the-earth kind of people. Although I wasn't seeking reunion so much as I was seeking information, there were times in my life when contact would have been the only way I could have obtained it -- I had no medical history but the cousin I found first immediately clued me in to things I should have known growing up about my family's health problems.

I know that behind even the most insensitive remarks I have read is love and a fierce protective instinct. But... (1) The truth is NOT something from which adotees need to be protected -- granted we may not need it all dumped on us as soon as we are old enough to talk but when we voice questions they should be answered truthfully and completely. (2) We are not clay that can be remade into the image of our adoptive family; we are unique individuals who will be a product of both our heritage and our environment for better or worse and what we need most is acceptance and love "as is."

John's picture

Hi Pennagal. So no birth mother ever expected the sealed records to be kept sealed. One of the bloggers on this site has a spouse that managed to go through the state and have them contact his birth mom, who did not wish contact. Your own mother seems to have had the same preference. Why the insistance that it never ever happens? Yes, it does poke holes in the 'this is what every one wants anyway' bit of convinient thinking, but it is the real world. The Moms count too.

OBCs dont always lead to reunions, but few reunions happen without the adoptee getting the OBC. It leaves contact soley in the hanks of the adoptee. Of course it doesn't make sense to keep it sealed after somewhere in the 1980s where confidentialily was largely eliminated. Before that, Mom absolutley should have a veto power of the release of that information.

Clarity, a disrupted adoption is one that never finalized. That means there never was an amended BC, of course the child would continue to use his original, it was never sealed. The name never legally changed. The expectation of privacy only exits if the records are sealed.

Once again, we hit the 'Why would anyone want to hide adoption?'. First, there is no need for everyone to know, kids don't want to be different. That means Jimmy's Little League will see his birth certificate, they do not have a need to know that Jimmy was adopted. No, it is not a shameful secret, it is Jimmy's story to tell when and where he wants to. Second is expectations. There are a number of folks who make very negative assumptions about adopted kids and the gene pool. Yes, they are clods, but they exist and there is no need for them to know either. Jimmy must know, but in todays society, it seems really unlikely that new adoptions are being kept secret from the kids. Yes, this did happen years ago, but it is not a common problem today. It is not a reason to have 'ADOPTED' on the amended BC.

Penngal, adopted kids are chosen, particuarly those from foster care. You do not adopt by accident, or just because the frost is on the pumpkin.

Natalie14468's picture

You are misinformed, John, about birth mothers being promised confidentiality at the time their children's adoptions became final. Birth mothers were never promised confidentiality or any "covenant" as you suggest. However, in states where adopted adults are now permitted to get their OBC, their is a contact/no contact preference written into the law. If a birth parent wishes no contact, they would fill out a form and file it with the state. I know of many adopted adults who have searched for and found their birth parents. It turns out well sometimes and not so well at others. However, we all need to know where we came from and what our family medical history is, and this information often is never given at adoption or updated.

Adopted children aren't "chosen" children. I always thought of myself as "second choice". If my adoptive parents could have had biological children, they would have. They were also asked to adopt my sister, born 15 months after me, but declined, saying they were too old and couldn't afford the $5000 adoption fee. I grew up without knowing my sister or even knowing she existed. I still haven't found her!

Children are all different, John. There are many children in the US who have been adopted from Korea and China. Do you think their adoption is any secret when they have Caucasian adoptive parents? Everyone knows. There are support groups in this area for Korean and Chinese adopted children so that their native culture can be taught to them and preserved. Keeping an adoption secret only adds to a child's shame and makes them wonder why their adoption is something that others shouldn't know about! What would a child tell about his own adoption if everythng is kept a secret?

I was told that my birth mother was a "young girl", a secretary, and that my birth father was a "professor". It was all lies. My birth mother was a 33 year old mother of 6 who had left my dad and discovered she was pregnant. The 6 older siblings were raised by our dad in a different state. They never knew about me or the 2 other girls who were born after me and also given up. The last 3 of us were all adopted by different families and never knew that the other existed.

I have since found my 6 older siblings plus an oldest half brother and my youngest half sister. The connection to my biological siblings is amazing. I finally feel like I belong! I know who my birth parents are, but, unfortunately they died in 1981 and 1991, and I was unable to meet them. I have contacted my birth mother's sister and my cousin, and they have been great, too.

I never had any family medical history given to me, nor did I know my ethnic background. For 58 years I guessed at where my ancestors came from. I thought maybe I was Polish descent or Dutch. I now know that I come from a long line of English and Scottish people with some German thrown in, and I have traced my family tree back to the 1400's so far.

In NYS, the amended birth certificate has the numbers "4138" typed to the left of the offical signature at the bottom of the certificate. This is the section of the NYS law that pertains to adoption. It is VERY clear that this certificate is an amended one due to adoption. While I don't think any state should stamp AMENDED BC on the certificate, I do feel that adopted adults should have the choice to get their OBC or not. For me, it is a tremendous sense of pride knowing which Scottish clan I belong to, and that one of my birth mother's relatives fought in the English/Scottish civil war in 1650, was a prisoner of the English, and then shipped off to the US to make a new life. His name was Daniel Forbush/Forbes, and you can check him out on Google. I'm also a descendant of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king. None of this information was available to me before I found my birth family.

Keeping an adoption a secret creates a black hole that is an adopted person's background. Not knowing where you came from and who your ancestors were creates all kinds of speculation on the part of the adopted person. Knowing the truth helps create a strong identity.

Natalie aka Anna Marie (my birth name)

pennagal's picture

You wrote: "So no birth mother ever expected the sealed records to be kept sealed."

That's a distortion of what I wrote, which was that any promise [of confidentiality] was extralegal and unenforceable. And that there is no guarantee that an adoption will be finalized, in which case records will not be sealed. So there is no rational expectation of "privacy." But, even if their were, that's not the same thing as anonymity.

I did NOT insist that all birth mothers want contact. Although adoption studies indicate that the majority of birth mothers want to be found. Some adoptees also do not want contact. You missed the point. What ALL adoptees want is information; these are, after all OUR records. And some birth mothers were promised that when their child reached 18 they could have their files, that promise has not been kept with any regularity either.

Contact is not necessary if we have access to our OBC. At first I was uncomfortable with the idea of contact but to get information, I had to search for my birth mother was because I could not get an OBC. I had to follow clues to find a name, which when you are searching leads you to the person, even if all you want is a piece of paper. As it turned out, contact was a blessing for me. It isn't always which is another argument supporting adult adoptee access to OBC. Currently, natural parents have even fewer options when it comes to finding their offspring than adoptees do, but they search. Thousands of Americans spend countless hours on genealogy as a hobby. Wanting to know where you came from is a natural thing even though contact with long-dead ancestors is impossible on this side of Heaven.

As adoptive parents, you and your wife are not threatened in any way if your child wishes to know his origins. I hope you to not communicate that to him, intentionally or unintentionally. I hope you do not represent his natural parents in a negative light, even though that may be justified, because even as a child, he cannot help but realize that his heritage is part of who he is. Let him wrestle with that uncomfortable truth when he's older. As someone observed, children who come from foster care are usually old enough to KNOW all that information making sealing the records moot.

Adoptions are not only disrupted, but also reversed. Last week as research for an article I am working on I read a court finding on a couple who adopted a child from foster care and had the child taken away from them for more than a year over something that turned out to be completely without foundation, and which the court found was made "public" with malicious intent. Had the social worker prevailed, that child's adoption would have been nullified. BTW: The social worker involved is now head of CI services in a Midwestern state.

I actually agree with you that a birth certificate does not need to be stamped "ADOPTED" in big red letters. In the same way that OBCs didn't need to be stamped "BASTARD" as they were years ago. I entered this discussion because some wag -- clearly not an adopted person, said that it was only a tiny (and very vocal) minority of adoptees who wanted their OBC. That's a misperception and a characterization of adoptees that is without foundation.

Of course, it's a misperception that adoptees are inferior or damaged goods. It troubles me that you raise it. That being said, many of the children who come from foster care are damaged by the experiences they have had at a tender age and it will take a tremendous amount of love and acceptance to help them overcome it. My hat is off to foster parents who are able to do that -- there are many, although still not nearly enough. But I don't believe that acceptance can be based on discounting the truth of their origins, but rather embracing their entire persons and helping them to find a way to deal with any trauma they may have experienced.

The majority of infant adoptions involve children who are healthy and not at increased risk for developmental problems. The children with developmental problems, unfortunately, go into foster care, which may or may not be stable. But, without exception, the women who surrender their children unwillingly ARE damaged. In some cases that damage is what prompts the surrender, in others it is the result. My birth mother was ashamed to meet me even though my letters -- sent through an intermediary -- reassured her that I did not judge her and that her choice had worked out well for me. Her choice had haunted her for the rest of her life. I later learned that she was married to my father, that they had had an unhappy and unstable marriage and that she had become an alcoholic during one period of separation. I now realize that the picture I painted for her -- true though it was -- only made her more ashamed to face me. My sister thought that meeting me would help her to heal but she choose not to and it was, after all, her choice. But that in no way negates my right to know the names of my parents and their family history. And I could have had that information without her conscience being disturbed if OBCs were not sealed. I have often wondered if, as another birth mother suggested, that she might have reacted differently if it had been I who contacted her rather than a social worker. But if I had been able to obtain my OBC, I probably would not have.

You wrote: "OBCs dont always lead to reunions, but few reunions happen without the adoptee getting the OBC."

INCORRECT. Most reunions happen precisely because we CANNOT get an OBC and therefore have no other option than to take the non-identifying information the agency will release and work from that. You might also be surprised at how many adoptees in closed adoptions in sealed records states actually have their birth parents names without an OBC. There are actually a number of ways to get a name but searchers don't broadcast that for fear of sealing another source of truth. I've helped others to search since the 1980s and I have yet to start a search from an OBC but I helped a number of people to find before I turned my attention to working for reform of adoption law. Foster parents have a certified copy of the OBC of the children in their care in my state for all the reasons a child might need one: to enroll in school, for example.

I do believe that women who are coerced into surrendering a child also have rights. They should have access to the amended birth certificates. I doubt that will ever happen but the trend toward open adoptions may eventually render that moot. Face-to-face contact must be a mutual decision. A phone call or letter can determine that. And persons who do not wish contact should divulge medical history but I don't think that needs to be left in the hands of social workers. I would much rather my doctor talk with her doctor about that.

When I first approached social services, who arranged my adoption, I mentioned that I had learned that I had an inherited eye condition that put me at higher risk for glaucoma. It was discovered when I was 28, long before people without a history are routinely checked. The social worker, concerned with my birth mother's privacy and in possession, I know now, of enough information to have contacted her, went instead to a local doctor and discussed my health and later told me that this doctor had reassured her that it wasn't something my birth mother needed to know. The experts at Johns Hopkins disagreed. I suppose her reasoning was that, since my birth mother would have been roughly 56 at the time, a good doctor would routinely screen her for that anyway. But since she was too vain to wear glasses...At least now her grandchildren have been screened.

There is no substitute for the truth. Adoption is a multi-billion dollar unregulated industry. Those who make a profit from adoption like it that way and they have the money to lobby. Most adoptees do not. Although, one adoptee, Helen Hill spent a modest inheritance on a successful referendum campaign to open access in Oregon. There are eight states with some degree of open records now and a number of others who have stopped sealing records in perpetuity. It's long past time for change.

If you agree, you can sign a petition at:

half-orphan's picture

John said, "It leaves contact soley in the hands of the adoptee..."

No, many, many adoptees have been and are FOUND by their natural blood-kin.


My 4 older siblings found out where I was when I was 10 years old. They contacted me when Iw as 18, legal age in New York at that time. Our father was not involved in the first contact. And, at the time of my relinquishment, he was never promised confidentiality. You, John, had this discuassion many months ago....

Many other adoptees have been found by their natural parents, half or full siblings, or other relatives.

Searching and reunion are normal parts of development. Do yourself a favor, john, and read books by Nancy Verrier: The Primal Wound, and, Coming Home to Self. You will find in these books that adoptees react normally to their split selves: they are not pathological for wanting to search, for wanting a reunion, or for wanting their orriginal birth certificate. The system of adoption is pathological.


NO, I was not "chosen". I was "available" because my father was vulnerable and was talked into giving away his 5th child. That goes against nature: no one offerred any help to keep our family together.


My adoptive parents wanted a child for almost 2 decades. They could not coneive a child.


The Amended Birth Certifcate goes against logic: you are a father by adoption, not birth, and your adoptee's paperwork should reflect the truth. All adoptions should be recorded as adoptions, not false births. No one can base a relationship on lies. When the lie is found out, trust is broken and can never be fixed.


Not all adotpees are happy with their amended birth certificates that make them appear to be like everyone else. Again, treating adoption just like birth, is basing that relationship on false pretenses. Read books by H David Kirk: he said many decades ago that adoptive parents must first acknowledge that they did not give birth to their child before they can be in the parenting role. Acknowledging the truth puts everything in proper perspective for the adoptive parents and the adoptee and extended family.












MichiganMom's picture

I'm truly amazed at the lack of general knowledge about the alleged "promised confidentiality" made to surrendering mothers. If you want to see how truly confidential the birth mother's information was, study any of the online reunion registry websites and you'll find a gazillion entries in which adoptees know their birth surnames. How did they get this information? From adoption decrees given to their parents. In my decades of helping adoptees search, I can tell you that this one tidbit of information is all that is needed, in many cases, to locate the mother. Especially if her surname was a little out of the ordinary and she delivered her child at a local hospital. Were all these mothers "promised confidentiality"? If they were, why was this information provided to the adoptive parents?

I surrendered my daughter in 1960. At that time, the "clean slate theory" was subscribed to in the field of social work. As a result, I was told my child would be "exactly as if born to" her adopters, and I was told I would "totally forget" I had ever given birth to her. So do you honestly believe I was "promised confidentiality" from the child I "had totally forgotten?" Duh!

When I appeared before the judge to sign relinquishment papers, he advised me that, upon signing that document, my child would be "as if dead" to me from that day onward. Can you imagine him then following with, "Oh, by the way: If your 'dead' child should one day seek information about you, do you give permission to be identified to her?" Duh!

See how ridiculous this argument is?

As for the numbers of mothers who choose or don't choose contact with their adult relinquished children, I find this whole part of the discussion preposterous. The point is that it's none of the government's darned business whether or not two adults wish to make contact with or have a relationship with one another. I don't want any judge, legislator, social worker, or general busybody making decisions for me. Too many decisions were made for me back in 1960 when I was vulnerable and gullible. I can make my own decisions now. If I don't want a relationship with my daughter, I can handle the situation myself. I don't need a keeper!

Just out of curiosity, what kind of numbers for successful search outcome would be acceptable for the naysayers in our midst before we'd let loose of adoptees' personal, vital documents impounded in 42 states? Would 50% be enough? No? Well, then, let's do away with marriage. Over 50% end in divorce, so obviously people need to be protected from forming relationships that way. And all those relationships started out as "happily ever after" love affairs between consenting adults. In the case of adoptees, only one party consented to the separation, and almost always under extreme duress, at that. The only way they can achieve the kind of equal footing that prospective marriage partners enjoy is if they're given free and total access to one another so they can make judgements for themselves. Would we be having a whole Internet discussion like this about whether or not a whole class of unknown, unidentified lovers should be allowed to get married? I don't think so.

Here in Michigan, the state is falsifying the already amended birth certificates of adoptees to make them acceptable at the federal level (for passport purposes). So they predate the amended certificate to make it appear that it was filed on the date of the original. So? So that means my daughter's adoptive parents are listed as her parents on her falsified amended certificate three days before I signed relinquishment papers. "Oh, what tangled webs we weave when we first practice to deceive." (Sir Walter Scott)

In what other instance is a state government authorized to falsify a vital record necessary for proof of U.S. citizenship, not once but twice, and to forbid that U.S. citizen from seeing, much less owning a copy of, the original?

AngelaW's picture

My daughter's birth certificate has a made up name for the father PLUS my name. I adopted as a single mom.

Most of Eastern Europe practices this.... If you don't know the father or mother, then a name is assigned. The government has a form and all the fields must be filled out.


The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

John's picture

Wow ladies, there really isn't anything you seem to like about adoption, being adopted, or adoptive parents! I am impressed, that is consistency, unforunately, consistency is not always good for you.

Reunion is not a terrible happening. Two of mine sought and had a reunion. One was contacted by his birthmother while he was still a minor. In each case, the sun rose in the East the next day. Yes, it was important to the ones that wanted contact, fortunately, it wasn't the end of the world if it couldn't happen, but working together it was possible to track down the birth parents. As the boys all came from foster care, obviously their birth parents were aware that they would be placed for adoption, no secrets. Reunion where the Mother did not wish contact and felt there was confidentiality is a very different matter.

So, you have all bought into the idea that you were horribly wronged by being adopted. What would have happened to you if your parents, the real ones that adopted you, had not chosen you? That is a biggie, that most complaining adoptees dismiss very quickly, it absolutley doesn't fit with adoption is bad and terribly wrong. Why would foster care have been such a good deal ladies? All five of mine come from foster care, it gets you to 18 and that is about all. What grand things is knowlege about your birth family providing you with? How did your life change from unacceptable to good when you finally got the information that you are so obsessed with? Could you ever allow your life to change from unacceptable to good? Isn't it time to get on with your lives and stop trying to change the past?

AngelaW's picture

John, I am not seeing "all" ("all is such a trigger word for me) the folks buying into being wronged by adoption.

I see many people (more then 2) talking about self-identification. Everyone wants to know how they fit in the world. And the OBC has some information about their identify.

I can really see how a "secret" OBC is annoying or hateful to an individual. It can be like a phantom itch... that secret. And because it is a secret you can obsess. And it builds into a big dramatic problem inside your head. And then you find out that everyone BUT you can know this secret.

I have experienced this for a different situation. Frankly I think it is easier for introverts (that is me) to fall into this mental trap. I was very pissed off when I found out that everyone knew "the truth" but me. Then it became a fairness question in my head.

But I didn't dead-end mentally with this anger. I kept processing and turning over my personal situation. I eventually pushed this anger away and developed a more controlled anger. I know that life isn't fair. I must be an "agent of change". Anger was a fuel but it didn't control my actions.

Rudeness is easy.. much harder to be polite. And I am a polite person d@mn it. (grin)


The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

AngelaW's picture

Short little story on why "all" is a trigger word for me. I am not trying to pick on anyone.

Because of my daughter's ADHD and general anxiety disorder (borderline compulsive), I always challenge Natasha on certain ideas. For example...

From 6 years of age to 11 years of age, Natasha was very afraid that she would get an "F" grade in 7th grade. So any time that she talked about struggling or failing in school, I would challenge her statements. She has FINALLY (doing the happy dance) let this obsessive thought go. It took mucho work for me and Natasha.

Because of Natasha's mental health issues (and she is a teenager), I always challenge her on the use of "all". For example, "Mom all my friends are into Goth. I need new black clothing."

The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

John's picture

Angela, replace 'all' with 'almost all'. 'Always' is almost never true. Nit pikin point, your statement 'I always challange Natasha...'. Do you really mean 'I almost always challange ...'?

Roger the 'All my friends are..., so I need...'. Part of a teenager's way of manipulating the world.

scrapsbynobody's picture

You know John, if you weren't such a scrapper, you would never have adopted all those boys. ;)

AngelaW's picture

Thanks for the nit picking correction John (snicker).

I should have just settled for... " Try to challenge Natasha". I am trying to drop "any", "most", "all" from my vocabulary as an example... hope that Natasha will stop too. I know it isn't likely, but I am giving it a shot. And I am hearing the phrase "many of friends" now.

When I asked Natasha how many, she defended it by saying that "many" means more then two. She had actually discussed this with her English teacher the prior day.


The ones that you love the most are usually the ones that hurt you the most. - Unknown

pennagal's picture
"Wow ladies, there really isn't anything you seem to like about adoption, being adopted, or adoptive parents!  I am impressed,  that is consistency, unforunately, consistency is not always good for you."   John, I posit that it is you who is consistent. You have made up your mind and would rather not be confused by the facts. All this because we won't swallow outrageous statements that have no basis in fact .   Nowhere did I say that I was wronged by adoption. Despite the fact that I (an adoptee) have consistently portrayed my adoption as a positive experience, and Angela W is an adoptive Mom who is clearly happy to be so, John has lumped us together as having nothing good to say about adoption.   He puts words in our mouths or tries to twist our words around. When all else failed, he challenges Angela on saying that she "always" does something in a way that we do when we speak casually. Although he can't possibly know if she is as consistent as he just accused us all of being he jumped on that to divert attention from the weakness of his arguments.   Adopt Author and Michigan Mom are both clearly women who were coerced to surrender a child to adoption; do you really expect them to be cheerleaders for it? They explained that they were not promised confidentiality. I explained the extra-legality of such a promise. We have yet to hear from anyone who says they were promised their child would never know their identity! There's a reason for that. A law professor who I met through my adoption reform work has been collecting surrender documents as part of a research project and so far not a single one indicates any kind of secrecy guarantee for mothers.   Half-Orphan had a difficult relationship with her adoptive mother yet she is caring for her during her final illness. I did the same thing for my adoptive mother. And I can tell you that no one gives up her own life to care for someone 24/7 unless they love her dearly. Yet, John, you have the audacity to hint that we are ungrateful adoptees. Clearly John wants a fight because many adoptees would respond to that charge with ire.   I caution anyone who gives birth to or who adopts a child expecting gratitude because you stand a good chance of being disappointed. Familiar relationships are not based on gratitude. To expect or demand it is more likely to engender resentment than anything else. I was grateful for my parents and, this may really surprise you, but they were grateful for me.   This discussion began because a simple question about the differences between an OBC and an ABC prompted him to make an unsubstantiated statement about the minority of adoptees who care about this at all. Every child deserves to know the truth of his origins.   If you didn't know before, then you know now, why adoption law in this country is so screwed up. The people who could change it are more affected by bombast than they are by the facts. After 30 years of activism, the irrelevant and extraneous, the tactics designed to make adoptees lose their cool don't work as reliably as they used to. I've heard it all before from people who are desperate to preserve the status quo because they fear the consequences of openness for one reason or another.   It is uncomfortable for adoptive parents to contemplate that their happiness rests on the misfortune of another family, or at least another mother. But it's a fact. And it is gradually coming to light that in John's case, he's seen for himself that some "birth" mothers will go to great lengths to find their children, only those children are now his children. He says the reunions did not go well and we will left to wonder why.      
John's picture

Pen, I did not say the reunions did not go well. Don't know where you got that. In each case there was disappointment that Mom still dealt with the same issues (addiction, abusive boy friends) and their lives were not greatly different than when my sons had lived with them. They were releived that Mom was alive and at least no less functional than before. The reunions were intitated by my sons, not the birthmom. The exception was the contact initiated by one of my son's birth sibs, not the Mom. During a call to the adult sib, she simply handed the phone to Mom with no warning to my son, he had a hard time with that. My son had been removed from that home due to incest.

Pen, if you feel you have consistently portrayed yourself as having a positive adoption experience, covering something that you do not like would surely be impressive to read.

pennagal's picture

In my lexicon, disappointment does not equal success. Pardon me for inferring that a disappointing reunion was not successful.


My personal experience of adoption was positive. I had great parents and as I have explained, my entire extended adotpive family embraced me and surrounded me with the same sort of love given to my non-adopted cousins. Perhaps I should mention that my mother (my father had passed away by then) embraced my blood relatives when I found them. In fact, it was she who kept me searching when I was ready to give up. She said she wanted to be there for me if we found something upsetting. The only thing that ever upset me was the refusal of state agencies to just give me the factual information I sought.


I also had other adopted friends growing up who had good experiences, and one whose experience was so bad that the state eventually removed her from her adoptive parents and put her in foster care to protect her from abuse.


But adoption, which is supposed to be about finding a home for a child that needs one, has long since morphed into a profitable industry that procures children for childess couples. The shift in emphasis is profound and the institution of adoption, although well intentioned, is flawed and needs serious reform. Since I became active in trying to bring about that reform, I have learned of many adoption situations that were not positive and I alluded to some of these to support my points. I believe a lack of openness contributed to that.


Regardless of how positive a placement might be, creating a family through adoption requires destroying one created by birth. You just can't get around that. This is especially so with infant adoption where babies are removed from their mother within hours or days of the birth. In foster care situations, the family or origin is also destroyed but the motivation, we hope, is to remove children from situations that could damage them emotionally or physically or both. No one can be faulted for rescuing a child from a dangerous situation, even if that danger is presented by his blood relatives.


However, not all infants need to be rescued from their birth mothers. One would have to be a very uncaring person not to appreciate how it feels to have a child taken from you. So while I grew up in a happy loving home, my full sibling did not. I don't doubt for a minute that I got the better deal but her situation would have been improved if we had known each other growing up because my parents would have loved her, too. It's so easy to forget that removing a child from their family of origin can and does sever sibling bonds as well.


Clearly some people don't think there's anything wrong with ripping a person's history away from them and putting it under lock and key. That part of adoption practice is wrong. Any negative experience I had with adoption came from the state's taking of my rights, not my placement with my adoptive family.


Adoption as a phenomenon is not positive or negative although there are certainly elements of both in its practice and application. Everyone has a slightly different experience of adoption, some better than others. To the end that we can make that experience fair for everyone it touches, I continue to advocate for reform. 










AdoptAuthor's picture

Over the course of 30+ years, i have walked through reunion with a MULTITUDE (read: THOUSANDS - how's that for many?) of adopttes and their original families. Contact was initiated by one or the other - almost equally.

When I am involved pre-reunion - i always tell people two things in preperation:

1. You are doing this in your time frame because you are ready to know. The other, the one being found, contacted, may or may not be ready. It may be a terrible time for them.  They also may have been told many negetaive things about you - true or untrue - and likely have formed some preconcieved noton that has little do with you and who really are. Try not to take rejection personally, and try to be patient for a change of mind after they have had time to digest it all.

2. Set you goal of SUCCESS on finding the truth and you will not be diappointed!

Shame your son did not have similar preprartion or expecations - in particualr #2.  You can still help him to reach this conclusion. The truth may not always be pretty, it seldom is, but it is our truth. Very very few of us - adopted or not - have "ideal" parents or sibs.  I know of no one, actually who does!  They all have their faults, some bigger than others.  But for better or worse, that is the tree we came from and we don;t have to like it, but it's good to KNOW - even to know the WORST! 

And this, John - is te RIGHT of every human being and shoudl not be denied to people who are adopted!!

In England and countries where adoptees have equall acces snot a huge percent attemt contact.  But it is THEIR CHOICE a sit shoudl be!  As for mothers, they too have a choce to say yah or nay if there is a knock on their door.  Adoption spearated do nto nee dspecial laws that apply only to them and keep them s second calss citizens - a suspect class. there are sufficient laws to protect people from harrassment.  And there are no other laws anywhere that protect anyone from LIES and SECRETS. if there were, politicians wouldn't fall from grace so often. BTW - it is politiicians who fear that knock at the door of one of their possible stray bastards that keep records selaed -- not mothers!  Politiitcans and the religions right.

No, I am not saying ALL mothers want opennnss. But 90% have wlecomed their kids back with open arms. Inststaes that offer vetos and such less than 10% have taken advantage of them.  And laws are made to protect the will of the MAJORITY!!

Adoptees are human beings and desrve to be treated equal to all other citizens in this country. Adoptive parents who applaud scerecy should not have adopted and need to get some therapy to deal with their own fears and insecuirites and allow their child to be who he is! He is a child with TWO families! That is his realtiy. If that is hard for either set of his prents to accept that is an added burden for the adoptee, and keeps hm dissociated instead of a fully integrated human being....  Just as for a child in a protracted angry divorce where parents make their child take sides and chose loyalty. Very very unhealthy and very frowned upon by all couts and family therapists. The same is true for kid of adoption. There shoudl be no jealosies or judgments of any of your child's family. That is very unhealthy for him.