Thursday, May 21, 2015

Born. Adopted. Sealed. Deported: the Fight for Equality for Adopted People


"Born. Adopted. Sealed. Denied!" was the hallmark chant of the Adoptee Rights Demonstration during my years attending and co-planning the demonstration as the now-former Vice President of the Adoptee Rights Coalition. The demonstration and its simple four-word message aimed to educate  legislators attending the annual National Conference of State Legislatures regarding a near 90-year-old legal practice that seals the original birth certificates of adopted people in all but 2 states and treats adopted people unfairly when attempting to access this certificate in all but 6 states. When we are born, we receive the same birth record as all other people. Following our adoption, this birth record becomes sealed and an amended birth certificate takes its place. A large portion of us are denied fair access to the original birth certificate as an adult--or denied access altogether. Born. Adopted. Sealed. Denied. But, what if I told you that the amended birth certificate--the record that claims your U.S. citizen parents gave birth to you in your state or country of origin at a date and time they were unlikely to so much as know you existed--is not enough to keep you from being deported?

For adult adoptees who turned age 18 prior to the passing of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), whose adoptive parents and agencies did not obtain U.S. citizenship for them, the threat of deportation is real. And ironically, that amended birth certificate that is otherwise imposed on adoptees as the "real birth certificate" and official confirmation that we are to move forward and forget about our countries, families, and cultures of origin, is not enough to save you from being sent to a country you haven't seen since childhood to be surrounded by people you do not know who speak a language you do not understand.