For Shame! Adoptee Records Access Snubbed, Write Ohio Committee

A Wag Of My Finger to those members of the Ohio House Health Committee who walked out on open records advocates’ testimony at the April 30 hearing on HB 7! Even if you don’t agree with the message, it’s your job to listen to it.

Fortunately that testimony can be heard through the hard work of those who refuse to be silenced any longer. Adoption Network Cleveland has put PDFs of the testimony online for those unable to attend. And bloggers like Bastardette and Baby Love Child call a spade a spade when it comes to the real intent behind silencing adoptees.

Despite there being NO public testimony opposing records access, the language has been stripped from HB 7. As Baby Love Child says:

If legislators only want to ’support adoption’ when we the adoptees are too young to speak on our own behalf/protect our own interests, then it’s long since time we as adult adoptees began to call it like we see it. Legislators who thwart adoptee equality are anti-adoption.

As an adoption expert – an Ohio adoptee of the Sealed and Secret generation – I call upon the Ohio House Health Committee to restore access language to this bill. If you care so much about “child-centered” policies, prove it. I was one of those children on whose behalf you spoke decades ago. I return now as an adult to tell you that sealed records are a chokehold on our very existence.

Again from Baby Love Child:

To genuinely “care” about children in adoption means to also care about us as we reach adulthood, and to give us the tools we need to conduct our lives as any other citizen would, not enduring lifelong hindering by unnecessary State interference and records confiscation.

Our personal information has been transformed from something originally held and protected for us, to be returned to us as we reach adulthood, into perpetually State held dossiers, records locked away from the very people they pertain to, such that the State knows more about me in some ways, personal and intimate than I do about myself.

My Ohio adoption file is buried, lest the universe implode should it see the light of day. My original Illinois birth certificate is sealed tighter than toxic waste. Adoption is great when you’re giving the poor (profitable) waifs homes, but when they come back wanting answers – or, worse, asking questions – it all begins to unravel. It’s so much easier to turn your back, pretend the testimony doesn’t exist. The secret-keepers undermine behind the scenes, while the disenfranchised have nothing but words.

But words can work wonders. I urge every single one of you to write the Ohio House Health Committee and tell them you will be silenced no longer. Insist upon adult adoptee records access in Ohio!

“Oh, how I love my name,
And what you do to me is a shame.”
–Evelyn King


  1. 73Adoptee suggested that I share the letter I sent to every member of the Health Committee re: Ohio HB 7 so here goes:

    Dear Rep. —-,

    I learned through adoption reform colleagues in the Midwest that members of your committee walked out on citizens who came to testify that open access provisions should be restored to House Bill 7. What incredible insensitivity! It makes one wonder if these legislators are illegitimate parents who fear discovery. If that’s the case, how much better for them and the child whose birth they are responsible for could know one another and heal the scars caused by separation.

    As an adult adoptee who was forced to search for my birth family because my birth certificate is held hostage by the state of Pennsylvania, I found family members after 19 years of searching. I was blessed. I wish I had grown up knowing these folks but I am glad I know them now. I would be healthier if I had known about my medical history and happier if I had had those connections. Since finding, I have traced my family history back to Columbiana County, Ohio.

    I can tell you from personal experience that knowing is better than not knowing. I did not invade my biological mother’s life. She did not want contact, and I respected that. But the cousins I found first have been an amazing source of love and friendship as has my sister and her children and grandchildren. I am fortunate to have two family networks, by birth and by adoption and I love them all.

    I hope you will take the necessary steps to restore civil rights to adoptees. You may not realize that there are 6 million of us and that our relatives and connections extend to include roughly half the population. The few persons who oppose open access — and I am told that NO ONE turned up to oppose this bill before the open access provisions were stripped — are persons who benefit financially from secrecy provisions that allows them to operate in our shadow economy. Adoption is big business and poorly regulated. And that, sir, is partly your fault. States that allow sealed adoption to continue within its borders are just as guilty as the shady operators whose methods of procuring children are suspect.

    Please revisit this bill and restore the civil rights of adult adoptees.

    Ann Wilmer
    Green Ribbon Campaign for Open Records