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Adoptees Sick of Being Treated Like ‘Second Class Citizens’

by Hugh McQuaid | May 6, 2014 3:35pm
(3) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Health Care, Legal

Hugh McQuaid Photo

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch tried Tuesday to pressure the Senate to give adoptees access to their original birth certificates and the names of their biological parents.

The legislation awaiting action in the Senate passed the House last week. It would allow adoptees born after Oct. 1, 1983, access to their original birth records. In Connecticut and most other states, adoptees receive amended birth certificates that omit the parents’ names.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference in the Legislative Office Building, Finch, a former state senator who was adopted himself, said the current law perpetuates a type of discrimination.

“We’re being treated like second class citizens and we have been since 1974 in most of the United States,” he said. “. . . The government does not have a right to take my identity from me and put it under lock and key.”

Finch compared the issue to the debate over marriage equality. When he was in the state Senate, the legislature adopted Connecticut’s civil union law for same sex couples. He said he almost did not vote for the bill.

“. . . because I know equality when I see it and that’s not equality, but we voted for it as an incremental step,” he said.

Finch said the adoption birth certificate bill before the Senate represents a similar incremental step. The bill reaches back as far as 1983 when biological parents began signing a form acknowledging the child may, as an adult, access documents that could identify them.

It was negotiated to ease the concerns of lawmakers who feel the change violates the trust of birth mothers who expected the state to respect their privacy.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Finch said. “We are not adoptees, we’re citizens, we’re mayors, we’re legislators, we’re owners of businesses.”

With less than two days left in the session, it’s unclear whether the bill will see a floor vote this year. Although proponents say they’re confident they have the votes to pass the legislation, Senate leaders are wary of raising any bill that could spark a lengthy debate as the May 7 deadline approaches.

The bill has the potential for a lengthy debate. Although Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said he personally supports the bill, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney has attached several amendments to the legislation.

McKinney, who has opposed similar legislation in the past, said Monday he had not finished reading this year’s bill. He said he filed amendments on it to give opponents in the Senate time to get a better grasp of what changes were made to the adoption process in 1983 which formed the basis of the House compromise.

“This is just a way to take a breath so a number of us can read it,” he said. “I don’t want birth mothers who made the choice to give a child away for adoption believing they would not be contacted to be contacted . . . What was the birth mother led to believe and told when she was giving a child away for adoption?”

Although he has been opposed the legislation, McKinney said he understood a major concern for many adoptees who want access to their family medical history.

“Even for adoptees before 1983, there should be a way to access medical records. Without question, that’s extremely important to know whether your biological mother or father had some kind of genetic disease that could be passed on,” he said.

It’s an issue Carol Goodyear, vice president of the adoption advocacy group Access Connecticut, came face-to-face with last year when after a mammogram, she asked to be tested for predisposition to breast cancer.

“The radiologist said ‘yes, that was fine,’ I could have the gene test but because I do not have my biological medical history, the test would cost me $3,000. For the non-adopted population in Connecticut, the test cost zero,” she said. “I left there very angry, very mad, very hurt, and sick and tired of being treated like a second class citizen.”

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(3) Comments

posted by: Julie S. | May 6, 2014  4:31pm

As a CT-born reunited adult adoptee, I would like to assuage McKinney’s concerns regarding what birth mothers might have been led to believe from a legal perspective. Birth certificates were not sealed and denied to CT-born adult adoptees until 1974. So clearly, no birth mother who relinquished up until 1974 could have possibly believed that she would never be contacted.

In 1983, a statement was added to the legal relinquishment documents indicating that the birth mother was aware that her child access identifying information one day. So again, no birth birth relinquishing after 1983 could have possibly believed that she would never be contacted.

Perhaps he is concerned about some of the birth mothers who relinquished in the eight year period between 1974 and 1983? If he were to review relinquishment documents from that time period, he would discover that there has never been a legal guarantee of complete anonymity from one’s offspring in adoption.

It is my hope that McKinney will consider these facts, remove the amendments, and allow this important legislation to proceed.

posted by: Farmington Granddaughter | May 6, 2014  5:59pm

No adoptee’s birthrecord was sealed before 1974. 

Today adults who were adopted after the State removed them from their families for abuse and neglect as well as adults who were adopted by a step-parent have no access to their original birth certificate. Not only those who were signed away ‘surrendered’ to be adopted away are denied birth records. 

All adoptees and their descendants have no genealogy.  Connecticut change this.

posted by: Carol Hudak | May 6, 2014  8:10pm

Once upon a time, adoption was about the protection of the child. If birth mothers were promised anonymity, it was done above and beyond the law, by the agency itself. There has never been a legal protection for birth mothers.

With 9/11, all Americans need an original birth certificate to get a passport!!

We are people without a heritage and a medical history, and yet the legislative emphasis appears to be squarely on the possible concerns of birth mothers.

Even with the passage of this bill, anyone, like myself, born before 1983 is STILL BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST!! I want this bill to pass and be signed into law; however, it still leaves me out in the cold.
You can go back and forth about protecting birth mothers ad infinitum . . . WE are what adoption is about - and we are still being discriminated against. Yes, I applaud the legislature for coming this far - it is a beginning. But all citizens are still NOT treated equally in the state of CT. Only when EVERY ADULT ADOPTEE has rights equal with non-adoptees will we have equality in CT. But not until then. Congratulations to the House for passing HB5144 with such unmistakable strength. Thank you, Sen. McKinney for dropping 9 (??!!) amendments from the bill. Now . . . HB#5144 must be voted on and signed by Gov. Malloy. Thank you, Mayor Bill Finch for your strong, uncompromising comments. Bravo, fellow adoptee. Only when you walk in these shoes do you really ‘get it.’