In just five days on March 20, the estimated 400,000 people adopted in Ohio between 1964 and 1996 will be able to request and obtain their original birth certificates, and I am even more thrilled now than I was at the end of 2013, when legislation was finally passed to restore this right to us.
I am one of the people who fall into this category of Ohio adoptees, whose right to their real, factual birth certificate was revoked through legislation authored in large part by adoptive parents back in the mid-1960s. You can learn more about how this happened and the long effort to reverse this misguided law here and here.
Personally, I have been luckier than most of my fellow Ohio adoptees because I was able to identify and reunite with my biological parents without having my original birth certificate (OBC), and I was also able to obtain my OBC with the assistance of my birth mother. Even though I already knew my birth name, the names of my birth parents, and the circumstances surrounding my conception, birth, and relinquishment, it was vital to me to see and hold that one piece of paper that documents my entry into this world. Finally, I felt real–created and birthed in the same way that all the non-adopted people I knew were.
And even though I’ve had my OBC for nine years now, I plan to download the adoptee records request form from the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus when it is available on March 20. I will fill it out, get it notarized, copy my two forms of identification, and mail it in along with another $20. Why? Because I need to see for myself that this process will work for my children–and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to come. This isn’t just about me. It’s about my descendants also having the ability to trace their lineage in future decades.
Even though I can’t be in Columbus on March 19-20 to celebrate in person with Betsie Norris and all of the other people who tirelessly fought for our rights, I will be sending my gratitude and sharing in their joy remotely from Florida.
And I will be thinking, also, of how far we still have to go in restoring adoptees’ rights across the United States. Thirty-five states–70% of our country–still have laws on the books that severely limit adult adoptees’ rights to their own, factual birth information. This year, nine of those states have adoptee rights bills in the pipeline that need our support (click on a state name for more details): Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. As we celebrate a new era for adoptees in Ohio, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in these states who are still fighting for their OBCs.