OP-ED | Giving Adoptees and Their Kids the Rights They Deserve
I’m a proud father of four kids. So when the doctor asks for our family medical history, why does the government keep that information locked away? I may be the mayor of our state’s largest city, but because of outdated laws, I’m just another adoptee who is treated as a second-class citizen.
I’m one of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who are prohibited by law from possessing their own birth records-the basic information that tells them who they are and where they came from.
More than 65,000 adoptees in Connecticut have been legally barred from accessing their birth records.
That’s because under Connecticut law, adoptees like me haven’t been allowed to access to their birth records. This law keeps people from truly knowing their identity. Imagine that: Our government fighting to protect our credit cards from identity theft, while keeping countless citizens legally barred from their medical identity at the same time.
Keeping adoptees – and their children – from birth certificates means they don’t have access to their biological, medical, and cultural history. It also creates a society where there are two classes of people: One group that has unlimited access to understanding their full and true identity, and another group that is legally prohibited from accessing information regarding their identity. It’s a complete disregard for “equal protection under the law.”
The status quo was unacceptable. Many tried to change it. In fact, as a state senator in 2006, I introduced a bill to give adoptees access to their birth certificates at the age of 21. It passed both chambers of the state legislature. But the governor at the time vetoed it.
Thankfully, this year was different. Adoptees in Connecticut were able to celebrate a major win.
Championed by Rep. David Alexander (D-Enfield and fellow adoptee), legislation granting birth records access to those born after October 1, 1983 once again passed in the state legislature. This time we have a governor who was willing to stand up for adoptees. Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill into law.
Doing so gave more than 25,000 adoptees across the state the ability to access their true identity – a chance to truly know who they are.
It’s great news. It’s a good start. But we must continue making progress. There are still over 30,000 adoptees in Connecticut who lack their most basic human right. All adoptees in all states, in all countries, should be given access to their identity.
All people deserve equal rights, regardless of their race, wealth, zip code, sexual orientation, or birth status.
With this in mind, let’s move forward faster to ensure everyone – including all 65,000 adoptees in our state – are no longer denied their rights they deserve.
Bill Finch is a former state senator and currently serves as the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut.