New Law = New Era for Ohio Adoptees Starting March 20, 2015

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            When I was a child, growing up in the 1960s-80s, I hated being “the adopted girl”. There’s no sugarcoating it.  My home life was good. I had a loving family, a fine education, lived in a nice neighborhood with a dog, good food, toys, etc., but I would have given anything to be just a “regular-born” kid and not an adoptee.  I detested that label so much that I lied to friends in order to both protect myself from peer ridicule and to create the illusion that my genetics and heritage were the same as everyone else’s in my family. I didn’t want to be from some other mysterious people I knew nothing about. That felt like science fiction. Secrets and other “forbidden” information were always red flags that indicated something was wrong. (Good thing that in 1962 I’d been placed with people of the same race with similar physical features and could pull off the façade!)

            It took finding my birth family in 1987 to change all that. That’s when I “came out”, if you will. That’s the year I faced myself and found out who I wascompletely and understood at last that nothing was wrong…ever.  My birth mother at the time had financial and serious health issues, but she was not a bad person. Nothing was wrong with my birth parents. Nothing was wrong with me. During my search and discovery I also learned that I fell into a “lucky” category of adoptees because I was born and adopted prior to 1964 in Ohio. Many fellow adopted people with whom I connected during my journey were born in different years and or were from states with more rigid rules about these matters.

            At my local adoption support group meetings, members commiserated about their bad fortune in timing regarding their location and birth. We could all relate to the growing up adopted angst, but at least I had successfully found my people, so it was difficult to share my challenges and joys while so many searching adoptees and birth parents were struggling with the disappointment and injustice of potentially never knowing where their birth children or parents went, if there were siblings, health concerns and what biological family members looked like.

            Believe me, if you have been denied the blessing of looking into another blood-related person’s eyes, you know EXACTLY what this feeling is all about. If you have NEVER lived a day of knowing even one honest detail about your biological parent, child or sibling’s well-being you do understand how meaningful it is to make this connection, even if only once.

            By meeting my birth family via letters, phone calls and with in-person visits, (remember this was the pre-Internet era!) I’ve been able to take back andown my adoption status.  I am no longer ashamed. I no longer have hate for the industry or the circumstances, which were out of everyone’s control back in 1962. I am an adult adoptee and am proud to be me!

            I don’t agree with and also don’t judge how lawyers, convents and social workers often practiced adoption placements 40-plus years ago, but I believe that regarding the concept of adoption, our society is in a vastly different place now. We are open about “non traditional” couples and family units. We freely discuss and watch on TV how family and other personal relationships play out. We live in an age of social media and easy access to many public records, news events, and we need to realize that the notion of “private” will never be the same. 

            Fortunately, the new Ohio adoption law, which becomes official on March 20th seems to recognize this new reality, and I am pleased to be from a state with progressive enough thinking and heightened awareness (finally!) for not just one segment of the adoption constellation. On March 20th, 2015 I will be cheering away with my fellow adoptee and bio-parent friends, plus policy makers and promoters who have supported and worked for adult adoptee rights to make this victory happen, and I wish for successful searches and relationships for all touched by this new law!

Here are a few very helpful links for anyone who wishes to better understand this law:

https://verdict.justia.com/2014/01/21/secrets-lies-new-ohio-law-opens-adoption-closet

http://www.ohiobirthparents.org/ohio-records-decision-tree/

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