I feel a sense of power as I sit in my office with an adopted child’s original birth certificate on my desk. The certified birth certificate will go into the child’s file, and locked away in a vault never to be seen again as mandated by Washington State law. The birth certificates list the full names of the child’s birth parents as well as the name that the birth parent chose for them. The adoptive family does not know the birth parents last names. Nor do they know the name the birth parent originally chose for the child.
As I look at the vital document, I feel that I’m committing an infraction of sorts, in knowing that the child to whom this information belongs will never be allowed to view it. The irony and weight of the moment is not lost, as I am keenly aware of the hours of time, money and longing that I’ve personally spent wishing for my own original birth certificate. It’s eerie to think that a social worker in the State of Tennessee, someone not too unlike myself, filed my birth certificate away, and locked it up and sealed it for my eyes never to see.
Why is it that I, an arbitrary social worker, gets to hold, handle, file and seal a document away? A document to those whom are not adopted, consider a vital document- one to be stored next to their marriage license and social security cards in a locked, fireproof box. But, for the adoptee they lost that right to have access to this document, simply for being born?
I know this debate is hot and raging in many states, but I can’t help but feel a sense of debasement as I do to this child what I fought so hard for and wished wasn’t done to me. If all individuals should have the right to know basic information about themselves, what gives a state the right to act sovereign and supreme over an adopted child?