The Oklahoman Editorial
October 23, 2011
MANY adoptees go through life with nagging questions about their backgrounds. Who were their parents? Why did they give them up for adoption? A cloud of secrecy envelops the adoption process primarily to protect the parents' identity.
Oklahoma is helping adoptees answer some of those questions. Under a 1997 state law, a child adopted after November 1997 can obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate at age 18, unless the birth parents file an affidavit of nondisclosure. The law also instituted a statewide reunion registry and allowed for intermediary searches. (This is conditional access...Trace)
Older adoptees, however, believe the law should be made retroactive, allowing everyone to obtain their birth certificates. That argument deserves serious consideration by the Legislature next session.
Sand Springs mental health therapist Rhonda Noonan lobbied for the proposal before the House Human Services Committee, which is studying the issue. “Everyone deserves the truth and the ability to find themselves and their ancestral history,” Noonan said.
She told committee members of her 30-year search to find her birth parents and of discovering her grandfather was Winston Churchill, whom (she was told) had shown interest in her as an infant.
Learning about their parents' background also can be invaluable for adoptees for medical reasons. Several adoptees have petitioned the court to have their birth certificates unsealed for medical reasons. One man said he petitioned the court to make sure he wasn't marrying his sister.
Michael Nomura, co-director of a Tulsa adoption agency, warned committee members about negative consequences of adoptees showing up unannounced at the front door of their birth parents. “That may not turn out well for either the biological parent or the adult adoptee who may end up being rejected again,” he said.
However, a study released last year by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute indicates that the majority of birth mothers don't want to be anonymous to the children they relinquished. In four states that grant adoptees unconditional access to birth certificates, only 1 percent or less of the birthparents filed no-contact preference forms.
When Oklahoma sealed birth certificates for adoptees in 1939, it primarily was to protect the parents. Society has changed dramatically in the meantime. The negative stigma of children born out of wedlock is much less these days.
Another concern is that some birth mothers might be under the assumption that the records would remain sealed and may not have told others about giving up a child for adoption. As Noonan notes, everyone should have a right to learn about their ancestry. These are sensitive points and deserve serious deliberation by lawmakers.
Read more: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-adoption-laws-merit-serious-look-by-legislature/article/3615606#ixzz1bcRYsWW6
Again, we have to educate lawmakers it is not so much about reunion (though adoptees want a good one) as it is to have the same basic human right as others have - to possess a copy of our Original Birth Certificate and to know our ancestry, tribe and medical history....Trace