Did you know that as a lawmaker it is your DUTY as a voted official to vote in favor of truth and the constitutional rights of the people?
You know I read articles like the one below and I have to wonder about the intelligence of our lawmakers. I know, that is a laughable statement but seriously, don’t ANY of these people DO their jobs? If I were in a position to vote on an open records bill (or any bill for that matter) I would take the time to educate myself on the subject. I would not rely solely on the testimony of those either for or against the bill. I mean I would hold their testimony in high regard but I certainly wouldn’t base my decision solely on what they had to say.
This article is filled with the same old foot-in-mouth rhetoric that has “convinced” lawmakers for decades to keep our records sealed. I just don’t get that. IF these lawmakers simply took the time to study the FACTS, our records would be opened, it’s as simple as that. The arguments against unsealing our birth certificates are nothing more than an old, worn out, vastly fabricated bunch of what if’s. I mean any idiot could read this article and figure out fact from fiction. How is it that opposers have been allowed to sway votes for so long with nothing more than a bunch of WHAT IF’S?!?
The last paragraph of this article states, “Whose rights trump whose?”. Oh are you JOKING? Are we talking constitutional rights here or the fabricated ones? I want to be clear because my faith in the mental superiority of the human race is failing.
Confidentiality was never written into ANY legal document signed at the time of relinquishment! Why? Because there is no such thing as a constitutional right to confidentiality.
HERE is a true part of the constitution that seems to have slipped lawmakers minds….
“ No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
As a citizen of this country I demand my Original Birth Certificate which is my LIFE, my LIBERTY and MY PROPERTY! And if you insist on infringing on my CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS then I demand DUE PROCESS!!!
Access to MY birth certificiate isn’t about anyone’s rights but mine.
Published: Apr 22, 2007 12:30 AM
Modified: Apr 22, 2007 03:44 AM
Adoptees seek open records
David Vaughan, 36, of Rocky Mount wants the legislature to change state law so he can see his original birth certificate. Knowing his parents’ medical history might help him deal with a condition he has.
BY J. ANDREW CURLISS, Staff Writer
David Vaughan has a medical condition — “I get the shakes,” he says — and the doctors would like to make a better diagnosis: They want to know his family’s medical history.
Vaughan, 36, can’t provide it.
Adopted as an infant in the early 1970s and reared in Raleigh, he knows nothing of his birth parents or his biological background.
Under North Carolina law, the state keeps secret the original birth certificates of adoptees, including Vaughan’s, sealing off the names of birth parents and the locations of the births. New certificates are printed to show only adoptive parents and where they lived at the time of adoption.
Vaughan and other advocates want the legislature to change that, but their effort pits them against long-held beliefs about secrecy surrounding adoptions.
Bills have been introduced in the state House and Senate to undo North Carolina’s law sealing birth certificates, which dates to the 1940s, a time when society cast more shame on out-of-wedlock births.
Opponents of the change worry about the effect of providing adoptees the information, particularly on birth mothers who could be contacted against their wishes. Some also argue that more openness will discourage adoptions.
Advocates of more openness say current law makes it difficult for many adoptees to trace their genealogy, learn about their biological and medical history or search for their birth parents.
Last year, there were about 3,500 adoptions in North Carolina, most through a public agency.
Balance is tricky
“This is a very tough thing to balance — the privacy of a birth parent against the search by an adoptee for their own personal information,” said Brinton Wright, a Greensboro adoption lawyer and board member of a children’s home. “It’s easy to sympathize with everybody in this.”
A hearing is expected in a House committee in the next two weeks.
Vaughan, who graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh and now lives in Rocky Mount, said he’s probably like a lot of adoptees. He said he already knows his parents — they’re the couple who adopted him.
“They made me mentally,” he said. “But you do look in the mirror and wonder: What physically made me?”
His recent onset of benign essential tremor is why he began his search for family medical information, he said. A family history might help doctors zero in on areas of concern or lead them to a possible explanation.
He also fears being asked in an emergency — a heart attack, for example — for a family history.
“Put yourself in my shoes, where you can’t answer those questions that could really matter,” he said.
Lori P. George, 38, of Greensboro also wants access to her original birth certificate, a search that started after she gave birth to a daughter 10 years ago. George looked at her daughter and realized she was the first blood relative she ever met.
The certificate would tell George her birth mother’s name, which George might use to trace her genealogy.
“I’m not looking for a reunion,” she said. “But you do start to want to know where did I come from and what are my origins?”
Lawmakers have periodically considered giving more access to birth certificates since the late 1980s but always decided to keep them sealed.
The case for secrecy
Previous efforts at change in North Carolina and in other states were fought on a range of arguments, at times in emotional, searing debate.
Some adoptive parents fear “losing” their child to the birth parent after a reunion. Opponents of change say birth mothers worry about being contacted against their wishes. Supporters of adoptions worry that a change might discourage mothers from choosing adoption over abortion.
In a statement, the nonprofit National Council for Adoption opposed the North Carolina legislation because it requires the birth parent to opt out of being contacted. The organization said the law should presume the birth parent’s desire for privacy and allow those who don’t object to being contacted to sign a registry.
Sen. Tony Rand, an influential Democrat from Fayetteville and the party’s leader in the Senate, has wanted to keep the records closed. He said he would study the issue again and could favor more openness if it applied only to future adoptions.
It’s unsettling, he said, to think of violating the expectations of privacy for birth mothers who gave up a child for adoption at what was certainly a difficult moment. “I am concerned about parents who may not want to be revisited or be contacted,” Rand said. “You have situations where nobody in the family had known about this going on when it did, and then it’s being brought up again.”
Asked what he would say to people like Vaughan who want to seek out medical information, Rand paused for a while.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what we do.”
Trend toward openness
North Carolina and New Jersey rank as the states with the least openness in the area of adoption and access to information, according to The White Oak Foundation, an Illinois nonprofit group that tracks adoption laws nationally.
Many states sponsor registries that ease an exchange of information or help birth parents and adoptees make contact. North Carolina doesn’t.
Amid major advances in medicine and genetics research, more states are making changes toward openness.
Seven states, including Tennessee and Alabama, allow adoptees to obtain their true birth certificate. At least a half dozen others are considering changes.
In Tennessee, the issue was fought to the state Supreme Court, which ruled that a birth mother’s privacy does not outweigh the right of an adoptee to obtain the information.
Robert Tuke is a lawyer in Nashville, Tenn., who was on a state adoption commission there and litigated the case on behalf of adoptees. He said in an interview that at first he assumed that more openness could be problematic.
But he said the commission’s research showed no increase in abortions and few, if any, unwanted contacts with birth mothers. Birth mothers can “veto” any contact from an adoptee by signing a form.
Oregon opened birth certificates to adoptees after voters approved a statewide measure in 1998. The vote produced a long, turbulent court fight, but courts upheld the change toward openness. About 8,200 adoptees have obtained their certificate since.
In five years, about 500 Oregon birth parents filled in forms spelling out their contact preferences. Of those, about 80 birth parents said they wanted no contact at all, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services.
In North Carolina, the proposals would set up a way for birth mothers to request contact or say they do not want it.
The bills would allow birth parents to file a form, and could indicate they want contact only through an intermediary.
The bill would allow for a birth parent to provide medical history whether or not a reunion is wanted.
Rep. Margaret Dickson, a Fayetteville Democrat, is a main sponsor of the changes. She said Internet searches and other tools are making it harder to keep information about birth parents from adoptees, anyway.
Dickson said she cannot understand a law that prevents an adult from having access to his or her own birth information.
“We are just not in the same culture and society that we were when this was put in,” she said. “We’re vastly more open now. Change is difficult. But you have to ask: Whose rights trump whose?”
Staff writer J. Andrew Curliss can be reached at 829-4840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.