Letter: Secrecy, silence promote shame

Published 8:39 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

Loss of their true origin, genetic history, and social heritage — their own “chapter one” — is the core truth of being an adopted person. Society creates the scenario where adopted persons are explicitly or implicitly told they are ungrateful and undeserving of information about their own birth.

This lack of equality robs adopted persons of their identity, continuing to treat adopted persons as perpetual children without respect and dignity. It ensures that persons surrendered for adoption grow up without ever knowing their true origin, their own “chapter one.” No other group in society must make this sacrifice. Adopted persons should not be penalized simply because of the way we entered the world.

Parents who relinquished did not do so to heal or help infertile couples. Like most couples dealing with infertility, adoption was a last resort. The overwhelming majority of parents want to know what happen to their children and want them to be treated equally. They were not promised nor granted by Louisiana law lifetime anonymity. Parents who relinquished have been reaching out to legislators to tell them that they do not forget their children and support HB 450, which would restore access for adult adopted persons at age 24 access to their own birth certificate.

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Secrecy and silence promote shame. We, the adopted, are told we the “special, chosen ones” and there is nothing shameful about being adopted and how we came to world and into our adoptive families. If true, then we have a right to be treated no differently than any other Louisiana citizen.

Ten states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island grant access and have had no issues since enactment of their laws. Kansas and Alaska have never closed their records to adopted persons.

Louisiana should be next.

Elise Bateman Lewis

Born, relinquished, adopted, reared in Louisiana – now living in Minnesota.