Letter To California: No Compromise On Adoptee Rights

Dear Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and other members of the California State Assembly,

I write to you concerning adoption records access in California. Bills are being considered that offer only conditional access to records. I urge you to enact laws that provide equal access to adoption records for all adult Californians.

Fellow adoptees from California have asked me to share my story with you. I am one of the tiny minority of adoptees left behind when Illinois and Ohio enacted laws similar to the conditional legislation you are considering. I am one of Ohio’s “sandwich” adoptees: my birthday falls into the dates arbitrarily chosen by the state as having little to no access to records. To make matters worse I was born in another state (Illinois), so both states toss me to the other like refuse neither wants. I am also one of the have-nots; my birth mothers has filed the denial of contact, which under current Illinois law denies me access to my original birth certificate.

Conditional legislation creates classes of adoptees based solely upon arbitrary dates and parameters. On paper it may seem fair that the majority receive their information at the expense of a tiny minority. In reality that tiny number represents real people like myself, whose lives are devastated as we wonder what we have done to deserve being left behind.

Conditional legislation denies the voices of birth mothers as well. When you keep dividing a number by half you will never get to zero. You will end up dividing by half for infinity. The analogy in adoption is conditional legislation that takes up dozens of pages instead of one straightforward sentence. Do you want to legislate for each and every special case? Because there are no standard adoptions, no rules, just one great big hodgepodge of interstate and international adoptions. Since we cannot legislate for every single case, conditional legislation disregards those birth mothers who, like some adoptees, are locked out of the process.

There is only one way to treat all participants in all adoptions the same and that is to equalize access by restoring the right to access one’s original birth certificate in an unrestricted manner.

For more information I encourage you to read the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s report on records access, the Bastard Nation position paper on conditional legislation, my blog concerning my experiences, and the voices of your own California citizens.

Thank you for your time, and consideration of this matter.

Triona Guidry
Author, 73adoptee.blogspot.com


  1. Triona,

    The more I read, the more I learn. This is pathetic, what they’ve done to you! Both states are against you, and so is your natural mother!

    Twenty-three years ago, when I was happily married, my husband and I attended a dinner party given by a community organization. A woman I hardly knew, picked a fight with me. She yelled at me that “me and my group of adoptees” influenced a stranger to “bang on her door” and “confront” their elderly mother. I was shaking and in tears, for I didn’t know why this woman was yelling at me. When she had calmed down, she said that her unknown half sister had attended a meeting of a local adoptee group that I was leading at the time. Turned out that, despite advice given to NOT barge in, an adoptee who attended one meeting, was sure she had the right mother, was angry, and stormed the 70-something year old woman at her front door! The old woman did not want her “secret” to be known, and her live-in middle-aged daughter did not know she had an older half sister. It was a mess. The elderly husband also did not know and so this scene created a cascade of horrible events.

    I’m explaining this for a reason: This kind of intense fear is a result of the harsh treatment a mother went through when pregnant, scared, and belittled. Of course she would have built up feelings of fear and hatred for the “baby” who caused her to go through this. To carry this around, not be able to tell her own husband, or her second daughter who was the only other child she had, is an unthinkable punishment for a crime that society assigned.

    The real solution, then, is many-fold. Don’t give such women the chance to sign “no contact” forms. Why? Because no person has the moral right to deny their own offspring knowledge of the truth of their conception and birth. That should be carved into stone and then made into law: You give birth, you have an obligation to tell the truth. Furthermore, access to your birth certificate is access to information, not necessarily an invitation for contact.

    Even twenty-three years ago, myself and others in the reform movement advised not to barge in on unsuspecting natural parents or, if a parent was searching, not to barge in on an unsuspecting adoptee who may not know she or he was adopted. Consideration works both ways.

    Obviously we are dealing with a complex issue. Legislation to restore adoptees’ civil rights should not be confused with the emotions of a found parent, or adoptee, and complex family relationships affected. If anything is legislated beyond adoptee access, proposed laws might look at a way to counsel and inform the found individual and family with compassion and understanding of what happened in the past, how to heal those hurts, and deal with the present.

    My heart goes out to you, and your natural mother. You both are suffering needlessly.

  2. http://Anonymous says

    Thank you for sharing your experience with conditional access. The bill Fiona Ma has presented and the conditional access CA CARE has convinced her “is in the greater good” is nothing more than minority discrimination and truly disgusting.

    Adoptees are already minorities that are discriminated against. All we want is equal rights, the same rights non-adoptees have. Our birth certificates are OUR RECORDS. We have a right to them. The whole document. Not like CARE would have it where the parents names are blacked out unless the adoptees prove to a judge a “necessity of legal right”. “Oh please Mr. Judge, I want my parents names, please, please, please.” Yuck. Barf.

    I’m not going to beg ANYONE for what is rightfully mine.

    AB 372 is horse shit. It’s a pathetic excuse for a bill and Ms. Fiona Ma should be embarassed to have her name on it as it’s author.

    Adoptees who want conditional access are selfish and stupid.

    I haven’t seen anywhere in the U.S. Constitution that we are lesser than anyone else because we are adoptees. (Am I missing the fine print?)