Dec. 3 was the first day adult adoptees born in Oregon were able to request copies of their own birth certificates, thanks to a ballot measure approved last month. It also was the day some Philadelphia-born adoptees made the same request here, knowing it would be denied.
“It was to make a point,” says C.K. Bertrand Holub, a Germantown resident and member of Bastard Nation, a national adoptees’ rights organization. Bertrand Holub helped organize the rally outside the state office building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets that preceded the symbolic filing of birth certificate requests.
When the ballot measure passed, Oregon became only the third state to allow adults who were adopted to access their own birth records. (Kansas and Alaska are the others.) Implementation of the new law has been delayed by a lawsuit, but Bastard Nation still counts the vote as a victory.
Adult adoptees born in Pennsylvania have been denied access to their birth certificates since 1984. Bertrand Holub says the change was forced by the powerful national adoption lobby – the same folks challenging Oregon’s new law – and anti-abortion activists, who argue that the threat of being found 20 years later would compel more women to abort their unwanted children.
“But not every [adoptee] wants a reunion,” says Bertrand Holub. “Maybe they want to [obtain their birth certificate to] study their genealogy. Maybe they want to frame it and put it on the wall. The point is, those are our records, and we should have the right to get them.”