State Rep. David Alexander and I had something in common as he stood in the hallway outside the House chamber last Thursday, where adoptee access to original birth certificates was being debated by the Judiciary Committee. Neither of us was really being represented: neither he as an adult adoptee, nor I, as a birthmother, whose privacy was apparently at the center of the discussion.
The bill under consideration would restore access to all adult adoptees. As reported by CT News Junkie on Thursday, April 17, “Bill to Give Adult Adoptees Access To Their Birth Certificate Advances,” a compromise allowing access back only to 1983 is apparently also being considered based on concerns for mothers who relinquished in prior years. It is important to understand that until 1975, adult adoptees had unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. In 1975, the law changed and records were closed retroactively.
Having said that:
The mystique surrounding birthmothers and the intensely personal and private nature of relinquishing our children for adoption have put lawmakers at odds over how to do the right thing. Reading the article, it is worrisome that the circumstances of birthmothers from decades past may not be fully understood. Women like myself didn’t choose relinquishment. It was an era when single parenthood was not an option, and sexuality outside of marriage was shameful. Because we lacked the resources to raise our children does not mean we chose to be anonymous from them. Our children are a part of us, not apart FROM us. Protecting our privacy does not mean we want to deny our adult children the one true record of their birth.
If Connecticut lawmakers wish to give us a voice in this conversation, if protecting our privacy is the pivotal issue in this debate, allow mothers the opportunity to sit down, in private, with a pen and the Contact Preference Form provided for in the proposed bill.
Let us privately express our wishes to our adult sons and daughters who may desire to seek us out, and trust that we adults can navigate our own relationships, in private.
Holly Harlow is a Newington resident.