By MICHELLE GOLLADAY , The Connecticut Law Tribune , July 26, 2013
"Who am I?" "Why am I?" These are two basic questions human beings ask themselves upon growing older—especially when one's birth parents are not the same as the parents he or she grew up with.
For now, in Connecticut, it's nearly impossible for some people to find answers. Adults who were adopted when they were children don't have access to their true birth certificates. Now, an organization that includes a handful of lawyers, and a legislator with a J.D. degree, are advocating for a law change that would lift that restriction.
Access to birth certificates would not only identify a person's birth parents and connect them to other blood relatives, but it would also allow them to find out about possible genetic probems and address and anticipate possible health issues.
"To cut a human being off from their genetic heritage is insane," said lawyer and psychotherapist Karen Caffrey, who has a counseling practice in West Hartford. "We have to correct this inequality and injustice to Connecticut citizens, just like we did for women voters years ago."
Caffrey and other advocates are members of a group called Access Connecticut, which is lobbying for a change in the law.
Working alongside Connecticut's movement is state Representative David Alexander, an Enfield Democrat, an adoptee and a member of the legislature's Public Health Committee. He plans to try to push a bill through the committee in the 2014 legislative session that would allow adult adoptees to receive both of their birth certificates.
"I am a captain of the Marine Corps, and initially when I joined, I had to obtain and produce my birth certificate," said Alexander, who graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2006. "My original [birth certificate] existed, it was there in the government office, and the town clerk was like, 'I'm sorry, I can see it, but you can't.'"
Alexander said he has lined up several co-sponsors, and if the measure passes the Public Health Committee, it will be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee. The bill would allow adoptees over the age of 18, and who were adopted after 1983, to get their birth certificates. "It's weird that the government and the state have complete acccess to this document, said Alexander, and the adult adoptee does not.
For most people, obtaining a birth certificate is as easy as visiting a government office in the state of birth upon turning 18 years old. For those same people, there is only one birth certificate to obtain—the original documentation of birth.