A New Low

Really, Pennsylvania? I was today years old when I learned that one of the stipulations for receiving a summarized version of your original birth certificate in the state of Pennsylvania is that you must meet certain educational standards!

Since 2017, any adoptee at least eighteen years of age must possess a high school diploma, a GED or have legally(??) withdrawn from school in order to qualify to apply.

Just to apply.

Every time I think I have learned of the worst and/or most ridiculous bar to access that has been written into law, I talk with an adoptee from yet another state in this great union for an episode of my podcast. I then head to that fabulous resource adopteerightslaw.com for a summary of the relevant laws, double-check by visiting the states pertinent webpage, and shake my head.

Or feel the rage bubbling up.

In some states or countries, adoptees must prove we are of sound mind in order to receive our own information.

In at least one state(Tennessee!) adoptees have to sign contracts agreeing to not contact family or be subject to criminal charges.

Proof of schooling is a first for me.

Please tell me of any state or country that requires a non adopted person to present a diploma in order to get a copy of their birth certificate!!!

Seriously. Show me.

Pennsylvanias state motto is Virtue, liberty and Independence.

Try living up to your motto, Pennsylvania! Honor an adopted persons agency.

Please join me on 14 February for a discussion with Kirsten Weatherford as she describes her fight to obtain her docs, and the lengths she had to go to in order to succeed.


Published by andestanley

Hi. I'm Ande. My name is pronounced On-dee. In 1999, I learned that my feelings over the years that something was a wee bit off in my family was ACTUALLY True. In my thirties, I accidentally discovered that I am an International, Stranger Adoption. Think adult woman locked in a restaurant handicapped stall, trembling, sobbing, dripping snot, wondering why her "mom" would consider a Fresh Choice an appropriate venue for confirming her suspicions. After returning home from that little humiliation, I began what I think of as The Great Paper Chase. This blog is about that chase. A little from the legal perspective, but primarily from the emotional and physical. Over the years, I managed to find a slew of clueless people, and a few well informed individuals, who helped me navigate applying for and receiving my paperwork. I encountered almost zero people able to help me with the arguably more important side of adoptee-dom. How do I cope with how all of this makes me FEEL? When I am feeling infantilized, what do I do? When I can hear my heart pounding in my ears and my head feels like it may explode into a hundred dangerous bone shards and a whole lot of squishy mess, how do I calm myself? Am I crazy for wanting my file, my original birth certificate, my proof of existence? How do I find the courage to open this damn envelope? Now that the envelope is open, what do all these squiggly lines actually mean?! Will I feel this guilt, fear, grief, shame, anger…forever?! I decided to start this blog as a way to explore the emotional and physical challenges of seeking our identities and adoption files, as part of community. I don't think of this as My blog. I think of The Adoption Files as Our blog. Our place to ask the questions, discuss the emotions, validate one another and plot the next steps in the journey. Along the way, I will share some of my experiences as a Late Discovery, International, Stranger Adoptee trying to make sense of the lies, the application forms, the attitudes and the consequences of reclaiming myself. I hope to hear from others as they apply for, receive or are denied thier paperwork, summon the courage to open those envelopes or emails, and read and reread the contents of those communications. I also hope to wheedle a few interviews with professionals in the legal and mental health and physical health communities who have valuable insights into how we, as Adopted people, can recognize the need for, implement and maintain healthy coping strategies so we can come through this process healthier and stronger than when we began. The goal is empowerment. The goal is also connection. Adoption life, what I think of as The In-Between, can be incredibly lonely. I have benefitted greatly in recent years from the discovery of this whole online world of Adoptees finding our voices and forming connections and sharing our stories. Every single one of them has helped me along the way, whether they know this is so or not. They amaze me every single day. If you are reading this, know that you are amazing. You are inspiring. You are not alone. We are United in more ways than we can imagine. Just one of those things that unite us is that we all have some form of paperwork, some absence of it, some document we are seeking. Now, let's talk about that paperwork.

5 thoughts on “A New Low

  1. That is so disheartening to learn . And I’ve been trying for a year to get my records for Michigan and my original birth certificate. I love of my mom and my dad and still to fight to get them. I am 49! It is insane to have to have a certain education to know about your life!


    1. I am so sorry you are still fighting Michigan for your records. That is so painful.
      Yes, the education requirement, along with all of the other obstacles in adoptee access laws, is just so dehumanizing. It’s like, what additional Bullsh*t can we come up with to discourage people?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I find myself getting really frustrated, trying to find groups to join that are working to reform the laws. I think it’s because: some states don’t seem to have groups, the existing groups are willing to compromise and deny some adoptees rights in order to give others access, and some only allow state residents to sign petitions

      Liked by 1 person

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