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Friday, August 23, 2013

My First Adoptee Rights Demonstration Experience

I only became aware of the Adoptee Rights Coalition (ARC) and their annual demonstration last year, and by the time I did, it was too late to plan a trip to Chicago. This year, I was ready—and lucky, because this year the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) was held in Atlanta, where I live.

Each year for the past six years, the Adoptee Rights Coalition has organized a demonstration outside the NCSL in order to raise public awareness of adoptee rights. Inside the conference, the ARC sets up a booth where volunteer supporters speak to the visiting legislators about the laws in their home states pertaining to adoptees’ original birth certificates (OBCs). Currently, only six states allow adopted adults total, unrestricted access to their OBCs: Alaska, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Alabama. In every other state, there is some kind of restriction in place on OBCs. These restrictions include allowing birth parents to veto access (as in Illinois and Washington), blackout years during which OBCs cannot be accessed (as in Ohio and Massachusetts), and complete sealing of all adoptee OBCs across the board in many states.

I didn’t always know that so many adult adoptees cannot get a copy of their own, original birth certificate. I first became aware of the law in my home state of Ohio when I began the search for my birth mother (who I found without the aid of my OBC). And I’ve only recently begun to think of myself as an adoptee rights activist.