Why is it that the legislative and law entities in Louisiana do not include representation by adopted people during the drafting of the bills concerning access to their original birth certificate, the government document that records their birth, which in Louisiana is denied to them?
Why is it that testimony used to inform these entities in drafting a bill are the biased thoughts coming from an adoptive mother, who opposes openness, and board members of an adoption agency which began in 1988 and opened when the majority of the country was focused on a new era of openness and integrity in adoption and not perpetuating secrets and stigmas of societal pressures of the past?
Why is it that the entities deny the key principal a voice in drafting bills? Instead, they let an agency, that only gains when relinquishments are made, be an inaccurate voice for all birth parents and adopted people.
Adopted people are used as pawns in political issues that have nothing to do with their right to the government document recording their birth. It is irrational and absurd. Louisiana is continuing to treat adopted people as bastard perpetual children and, along with their birth parents, without respect and dignity. This perpetuates the stereotypes and myths from a bygone era filled with stigmas and illegitimacy.
These actions and attitudes ensure babies placed for adoption grow up without ever knowing their true origin, genetic history and social heritage — their own “chapter one” — and foster their different treatment from others.
When adopted people ask questions about their origins, they are explicitly or implicitly told they are ungrateful and undeserving of information about their own birth. No other group in society must make this sacrifice.
Infant adoption is inaccurately presented as a panacea. Infant adoption purports to “protect parents who relinquish.” The truth is, infant adoption serves infertile couples and is committed to “protecting” adoptive parent’s illusion of family. If it were about anything else, parents who relinquish would not be courted by potential adoptive parents and then forgotten shortly after. The sly negative portrayals of adopted people and their families of origin would not exist. The stigma and shame that promotes all the secrecy would not exist.
Parents who relinquished were not promised by the state, nor do they want, confidentiality from their own children. The overwhelming majority want their children to be treated equally.
Given an adoptive parent, the groups using them as pawns and an adoption agency dominate these drafting discussions, no bill about access to their original birth certificates should be considered until adopted people have a place at the table. After all, it is their original birth certificate.
I would love to hear the rationale for their exclusion.
Elise Bateman Lewis
former regional director and board member, American Adoption Congress