On the heels of the recent Evan B. Donaldson study, ABC has posted an article concerning discrimination against adoptees. None of the information in the article will be news to us adoptees, who have been familiar with this for decades.
For me it started within my adoptive family. I was always the "adopted" daughter, emphasis on the adjective. In school I was mocked by classmates. On medical forms I have to write "unknown-adopted". I have learned not to mention my adopted status, unless I want to be subjected to knowing looks or annoying personal remarks. "Didn't your mother want you? Have you looked for your birth family? Aren't you glad you were adopted?" There are adoptees who have been denied driver's licenses and passports, and otherwise made to suffer indignities that no one else must endure. It's about time somebody started taking a closer look at this.
In general I think it's great that the EBDAI did a study of adult adoptees. However, one thing that annoyed me was that on the surface it seemed to apply only to international adoption. Domestic adoption was indeed part of the study, but the title "Beyond Culture Camp" implies otherwise. That's not to dismiss the important conclusions reached concerning transracial adoptees, but I would have liked to have seen a more all-encompassing summary. I also agree with what others have said, that putting children on the cover of a study about ADULT adoptees perpetuates the notion that, like Peter Pan, we never grow up. That defeats the whole purpose of a study about adult adoptees. I would have preferred to see a picture of, say, adult adoptees mentoring their younger counterparts. Or heck, just adult adoptees (including some domestic ones). Otherwise, though, the conclusions were spot-on.
Promote laws, policies and practices that facilitate access to information for adopted individuals. For adopted individuals, gaining information about their origins is not just a matter of curiosity, but a matter of gaining the raw materials needed to fill in the missing pieces in their lives and derive an integrated sense of self. Both adoption professionals and the larger society need to recognize this basic human need and right, and to facilitate access to needed information for adopted individuals.
I've said it before in various places: When non-adopted people ask about their origins, it's called genealogy. When adoptees ask, we are admonished. Most people don't realize how our birth certificates are altered, nor that we must jump through expensive and unnecessary hoops and be subjected to intensely personal interrogations, just for the mere CHANCE at records access. No other segment of our society is treated in this manner. Adoptees are second-class citizens whose civil rights have long been ignored and denied. People think that if we, as adults, continue to "harp upon" our origins, there is something wrong with us. But this study clearly shows that
Adoption is an increasingly significant aspect of identity for adopted people as they age, and remains so even when they are adults.
I am pleased that discrimination against adoptees is finally being acknowledged, but I think it needs to go further. Every single closed-records state needs to follow the example of Maine and restore unconditional original birth certificate access to domestic adoptees. Those adopted internationally deserve to have their citizenship in their countries of origin maintained, and all documents of their origins made conveniently and inexpensively available.
Until adoptees are treated in the exact same manner as the non-adopted, we will continue to be discriminated against. Compromise legislation doesn't cut it. Pithy promises don't cut it. It's not about search and reunion, it's about civil rights. We want EQUALITY and an end to discriminatory practices and laws.