National Adoption Awareness Month

National Adoption Awareness Month

Sarah Baker | November 01, 2013 | 12:18 PM

national-adoption-monthEvery November we now celebrate National Adoption Month. The history of National Adoption Month is relatively new. As we learn more about adoption and the need for forever homes and advocating for ethical adoptions, the awareness continues to spread.

History: In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week. In 1995, as an adoptee himself, President Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November. Then in 1998, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. (childwelfare.gov)

Activities and celebrations are kicked off with a Presidential Proclamation, and while efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness of adoption, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, debunk the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families. (adoption.com)

Adoption Awareness is needed in many areas. First, helping find waiting children from foster care their forever homes is a huge priority. Every child deserves a permanent home and a loving family. There are many situations that can lead to their orphan status, but that does not make them unwanted or unadoptable. While foster adoptions are vastly needed, there are all types of adoptions that this month celebrates: Kinship adoptions, step parent adoptions, domestic infant adoptions, international adoptions, etc.

This month isn’t just about celebrating the beauty of adoption or bringing awareness to the thousands of children waiting to be adopted. Adoption advocacy is also an important part of National Adoption Month. Working hard to learn about adoption and the long term effects it has on everyone involved is necessary. Helping expecting mothers find and develop the tools they need to parent when they are considering adoption is also a huge step. Advocating for adoptees rights to their original birth certificates and birth certificate reform, as well as promoting open adoptions is beneficial for their self-identity.

Each day this month, I plan to post on our social media outlets, giving thanks or bringing awareness to adoption. You can follow our adoption at www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

Here is a link to a calendar of unique ways to celebrate adoption and spread awareness. http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/pdf/2013calendar.pdf

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Keeping up with the Kardashians

Birth Certificate Reform

Sarah Baker | October 10, 2013 | 02:17 PM

The Kardashians are always making headlines, whether we like it or not. The most recent hot topic, aside from loving or hating Baby North’s name, is Khloe’s fertility problems and news about visiting an adoption lawyer.

There are so many topics that can be addressed with this segment of “Keeping of with the Kardashians” Kim pushed Khloe into meeting with an adoption attorney, one for her own need to gain knowledge of adoption, but also because she felt Khloe needed to start weighing her options. Another hot topic that revolves Khloe’s meeting with the adoption attorney is that in the initial questions to the lawyer, she seemed most concerned with asking about how to NOT know the birth family and can she proceed with medical information but in a closed adoption. Of course you know, I am an advocate of open adoption, so that portion of the episode probably deserves its own attention for a later entry. (If anyone is interested)

So… back to the clip that I want to touch on today. I feel this one is a very interesting topic actually. In this deleted scene clip (http://www.eonline.com/shows/keeping_up_with_the_kardashians/videos/213572/khloe-kardashian-questions-birth-certificate), Khloe tells her mother about an interesting birth certificate fact she found out during the meeting with the adoption attorney. An adopted child’s birth certificate is edited to reflect the adoptive parents as the parents of the child. It is not altered to ADD the adoptive parents, it is changed. The birth parents are removed and the adoptive parents are added. The child’s birth name is also deleted (if it differs from what it is at adoption) and the new name is put in its place. While Kris, Khloe’s mom, seems shocked by this news, she quickly realizes that the reason Khloe is bringing it up is another reference to the fact that Khloe doesn’t believe she is biologically a Kardashian.

The whole scene made me wonder how many people out there do not know that an adopted child’s birth certificate is permanently altered with their birth information deleted, even in open adoptions? I suppose there are two sides of this, that one it protects the birth parents who don’t want to be found or, I don’t know, are in protective custody or something? But, seriously, why in the world, with all the changes that have happened in adoption in the last several decades, is THIS still happening?

My thoughts are that by altering a birth certificate it is striping the identity from a person. Just because they are adopted, does not mean that their original identity should be hidden from them. Ezra’s revised birth certificate actually just came in the mail about a week ago. I thought that when I got that new birth certificate, showing his last name the same as ours and reflecting us as his parents, I would be really happy. Instead, I was oddly saddened. With my open adoption, we are lucky enough to have his birth parents in our lives. We even have a copy from our adoption lawyer of his original birth certificate for his records, since now the original is sealed. But, receiving that document raised a lot of questions and concerns by me, for my son. I knew there were groups and activist out there that spoke out on adoption reform and “birth certificate identity theft”, but it wasn’t until I saw my son’s “new” birth certificate that I felt I really understood the stance these adoptees take.

How hard would it be to reform this practice?

1. Keep the original given name of the child on the certificate and amend it to state new legal name.

2. Keep the birth parents name(s) on the certificate with adoptive legal parent’s names added to reflect the adoption.

3. In cases where the birth parents personally request to remain anonymous or there is a danger to gaining that access, then maybe “seal” that information for the first 18 years, but don’t make it difficult to obtain after the child is no longer a minor.

4. If the child, as an adult, would like the birth information removed, then they can request to do so.

Nothing should ever be used to keep a child in the dark about their adoption though. Going through life feeling out of place and then finding out you are adopted only to hit dead ends in your search is cruel. Which is one of the reasons open adoption and talking about Ezra’s adoption to him with age appropriate information is important to us. Everyone says that adoption is about giving the child a better chance in life. So if we are truly doing this for the children… then don’t strip them of their identity. Let them be proud of who they are. There are many ways to reform adoption and birth certificate reform is just one of the many injustices adoptees deal with.

So while the present reform groups focus a lot on making sure original birth certificates are unsealed and made available to them as well as not being sealed in the future for new adoptions, I think we can go one step further and change the way we handle what is ON a birth certificate to begin with.

I would love your experience or feedback on this. Please comment below.