Adoptee Access to Birth Certificates — a Health Issue?

The issue of adoptee’s rights pertaining to their original birth certificates is making headlines again this week.  Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute comments on his latest blog about the fact that the First Lady’s push for activity, fitness and health awareness has some unintended discrimination built into its framework.  One of the initiatives of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is for families to learn about and know their medical history, an unattainable goal for many U.S. adoptees.

While many adoption advocates in the United States consider access to original birth certificates a civil right, it is not something that is available to all adoptees.  Access to original birth information and paperwork varies from state to state.  Pertman is supported in his assertion that opening adoption birth records can have a positive impact on the adoptee’s future physical health. Kate St. Vincent Vogl’s story is one that implies that access to family medical history is both interesting and an inherent part of the adoptee’s life story.   In her case, it may also be the difference between life and death.

One thing is for sure; the issue of opening adoption records is one that will be on the forefront of adoption-related legislation and policy, likely until all 50 states have a cohesive policy and process for both the adoptees and for birth parents and families.  In the meantime, there will be many birth parents and adoptees initiating a search with the intention of reuniting with one another.  If you are looking for a resource to help the process of beginning a search or a reunion, start here with Kinship Center’s 10 Things: Adoption Search and Reunion, or contact us at 1-800-4-KINSHIP(1-800-454-6744).

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