State officials are expecting a crowd; their website urges workers to expect delays in finding parking and to plan ahead accordingly. Adoption Network Cleveland, which worked tirelessly to pass this legislation, is hosting a event for those who will be downloading and filling our the necessary form on Thursday night at the Crowne Plaza in Columbus, the state capital, where the records are held.
The Ohio law is not perfect--natural mothers or anyone listed as a parent on the original birth certificate are able to have their names redacted; they were given more than an entire year to file for a redaction, and must do so before Friday.
As of yesterday, only about a hundred parents had chosen to have their names hidden on the birth certificate. Mathematically, that is .00025 of 1 percent. For those adopted individuals caught in this trap, the law that permitted this is cruel, unusual, and immoral, for no one should be denied an identity because it will embarrass someone. Those who asked for their names to be redacted were required to fill out medical history forms. While useful, they do not give the adopted full and complete control of their own lives, which includes the right to know their original and true identity.
REUNION CAN BE A MINEFIELD
Other provisions in the law allow all adoptees born before 1964 to have access to their original records; those born after Sept. 18, 1996 already get their records--unless their biological parents have asked that the file be sealed. That remains unchanged.
Not every birth certificate will contain the correct information. Not everyone getting their original birth certificate will locate and reunite with their natural parents. Some will have died; some family members will be less than welcoming. We have heard of too many stories to believe in a happy ending for everyone. Reunion is fraught with minefields of hurt, buried anger, misspoken words and misinterpreted actions. But for some, the road will be smoother; we rarely hear about them at First Mother Forum because this is where people come to grieve and get help, or simply vent; but such reunions are possible.
No matter what happens in the course of search and reunion, the right to the information of one's birth is a step toward justice for the adopted. Knowing is better than not knowing. An ending is better than always questioning. Reality is better than never learning the truth. As someone wisely wrote on an ABC message board: "Everybody wants to know where they come from, even if it doesn't turn out like you wanted it."
To all those in Ohio, to all those born and adopted in Ohio, to all those natural mothers who relinquished in Ohio and now waiting for reunion, Jane and I wish you the best of luck and a happy ending.--lorraine
I will be posting soon about the Kickstarter (success!) and my soon to be published memoir, Hole in my Heart.
Ohio set to open adoption records sealed for 50 years
Impact of New Law on Adoptions Finalized Between January 1, 1964 – September 18, 1996 https://sites.google.com/site/adoptionequityohio/
Birth Certificate Access for Ohio Adoptees - Success in 2013
Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA by Richard Hill
"Hill's memoir is well-written, easy to read, a can't-put-down tale. It's more than that, though, as Hill reveals himself in the process of discovering his roots. When he obtains a picture of his birth mother, he writes of the "delayed grief over my birth mother's death and our lost relationship." I uncovered the truth about my birth parents, acquired wonderful new siblings and cousins, and built a family tree for my descendants."--Jane Edwards at Using DNA to Find Family: You Can't Have Too Much Family