Adoptee Rights – 14th Amendment…EQUALITY

I got the chance to write about the different types of adoption and address one of the questions assigned by my professor in my legal class. The question was – what are the legal rights of an adoptee?
Well, as you can imagine most people, who aren’t adopted, would simply look into the text book and pull out the information that is commonly sold to the public.
Textbook terms: Adoptees legal rights are the same as a biological child. Adoptees have the right of inheritance from their adoptive family. In some states, adoptees may even be able to inherit through their birth families (but their birth families cannot inherit through them).

Anyways, I’d like to address this to anyone who might read this.Most of my teen life I think I battled with my identity, unknowingly, I always felt like the coddled child amongst my peers or that I wasn’t as sharp as them, I could sing and write music – that felt natural to me but I’ve always had a hard time verbalizing my feelings face to face with people. I was always distracted or goofing off and I guess this was a coping mechanism. The older I’ve got the more people started to scare me.

Now adoption narratives are commonly sold and distributed from the perspectives of the adoptive family or adoption agencies. However, adoption is a lifelong event, the adoption doesnt end after it becomes finalized. The adopted child may eventually grow up asking big questions that their adoptive parents can’t answer. The only feelings assigned to adopted children are that of being ‘happy they were chosen’ or to feel ‘grateful’. I had a friend who once negated my depression over this issue because they said how happy I should be for what my parents today have given me.
Sure, I am happy and grateful, but I am allowed to feel mad and sad about the struggle with my identity too.
Just to be explicitly clear – I am *so* grateful to my adoptive family but being grateful is probably the worst word you can shove off on an adopted person: It is not the child’s responsibility to be grateful to a parent. Any parent doing their job correctly, would hope that any child, biological or not, to feel appreciative of their efforts to parent – so assigning this emotion to adopted children only reaffirms that something was once broken at the beginning of our life. Being grateful only addresses the response to what someone else has done for me, it does not recognize what the adopted person is feeling.
True, some adopted people never think twice about being adopted – but most of them eventually back track when they start having children of their own OR they have second thoughts about their biological families when their natural children ask them why they look the way they do. The actions of adoption do not occur first without some form of LOSS. Nothing is black and white, I think most people can agree to this – not much in life is ever that simple. However, adoption is mostly sold and distributed to the masses as rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes it is really rainbows and sunshine but every human is entitled to feeling and curiousity – just because the circumstances of an adopted child’s birth weren’t ideal, doesn’t mean that child should grow up being told that it is selfish of them to ask bigger questions, “who am I? where did I come from? what’s my heritage?”
Not to mention the serious need for medical information. Do you know how many times as a child I went to a doctor and just drew a big ‘X’ on the page that asked for family history? There were times in school when we would have to make a family tree or children would talk about which parent they looked like, etc. I would sit there trying to figure that out before I realized I would have no way of knowing. Questions like this are so profound for a young child and most of the time they are unprepared to grapple topics that are taken for granted by non-adoptees. I think the secrecy of who I am (by way of adoption) coupled with numerous life events is what drove me to become such an isolated, distrustful, sensitive, angry, moody, hermit of a person.

Section I of the 14th Amendment:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. 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.”

Key words – equal protection of the laws.
As it stands the closed adoption process and the secrecy that this entails is an archaic method that only hurts adoptees who really want their information.
There needs to be adoption reform in this country. For too long people have suffered in silence, secrecy and have been denied information about their birth and therefore medical history. At what point can the adopted child grow up? We are forever children asking for permission until the legislature recognizes that this is a human rights issue. We deserve to know who we are and the laws need to reflect this overwhelming need. I hope more adoptees voice their concerns through the internet or social media as we need to raise awareness about open access and adoptee rights so that others understand why the “angry adoptee” label gets thrown around unfairly. I’m not allowed to have a piece of paper that only concerns me and my factual birth because the government says so. I am only allowed an amended version..even though I’ve reunited with my birth family. What gives? SMDH.


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