Understanding Adoptee Rights Issues

Adoptee advocacy is fundamentally focused on the issue of human rights for all persons, regardless of their status at birth. There are countless articles to choose from online, as well as an insightful biography by E. Wayne Carp on adoptee rights pioneer Jean Patton. I picked these four because they provide insights into fundamental legal and basic human rights issues. I chose Gregory Luce’s article because it addresses leadership on adoptee rights as human rights advocacy and because of the commentary below it capturing first-hand accounts of how advocacy has played out in the real world of lawmaking.

Bastard Nation, What is Bastard Nation:
The nation’s leading adoptee rights groups expands on its mission statement, rooted in promoting adoptee rights as human rights: “Bastard Nation advocates for the civil and human rights of adult citizens who were adopted as children. Millions of North Americans are prohibited by law from accessing personal records that pertain to their historical, genetic, and legal identities. Such records are held by their governments in secret and without accountability, due solely to the fact that they were adopted. Bastard Nation campaigns for the restoration of their right to access their records.”

Lauren Sabina Kneisly, Baby Love Child (blog), “Adoptee Rights 101: Class Bastard and how to recognize a genuine adoptee rights bill,” June 2, 2010:
This is a seminal article defining adoptee rights as human rights and a political issue. Kneisly notes, “This adoptee rights work is grounded within a broader framework, internationally, of human rights, identity rights, and civil rights. Genuine adoptee rights activists are not asking mere state granted privileges, which states can give or take at whim, but demand equal treatment under law. Inherent to that is the concept that sealed records and state falsified records were a harm perpetrated against classes of people, and that this injustice of inequitable treatment under law must be rectified.”

Gregory Luce, Bastards in the Room, Updated June 10, 2017:
Luce is a leading U.S. adoptee rights advocate and Minnesota-based attorney, who also writes insightful observations about adoption legal issues and the people involved in promoting adoptee rights issues. In a piece addressing who gets to lead on adoption advocacy, he writes, “I readily join Bastard Nation in rejecting compromise, unequivocally. I’m moving forward in a rights-based reality, for adoptee civil rights, for access to what is ours. I choose to be one of the many proud bastards in the room, whether we are acknowledged by others or not.”

Doris Michol Sippel, “Global Call to Stop the Propagation of Adoption’s Altered Birth Certificates,” Dissident Voices, Dec. 19, 2016:
Adoptee rights author and advocate Michol Sippel has written an essay that outlines the way legal identifies and critical birth documents for adoptees are changed by both the public health and court systems. She writes, “From the 1930s to the present day, adoption re-assigns identities by court order that requires replacing birth certificates of all adopted people, even in socially-open adoption. A brief history of the purpose behind the passage of these laws and explanations as to how they violate adoptees’ civil and human rights will be presented.”