What a difference a few days can make. It was just one week ago that I mentioned how the Catholic Conference of Ohio has historically maintained a stance that adult adoptees are not deserving of their own original birth certificates. Well, I am pleased to report that on Wednesday, March 13, the Catholic special interest group offered its endorsement of HB 61, which unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee. With this exciting–and perhaps a tad bit overdue–change of heart, the Catholic Conference of Ohio joins Ohio Right to Life in supporting equal rights for adult adoptees when it comes to original birth certificate access.
For those of us in the adoptee rights movement, this is a significant development. Two organizations that have staunchly opposed restoring original birth certificate access to adult adoptees have now changed position. And if they can do so in Ohio, the counterparts to these groups in other states can do so as well.
This development is significant for me on a personal level as well. I was born of a Catholic natural mother. I was adopted through Catholic Charities. I was raised Catholic by my adoptive mother. I’m married to a Catholic. My children attend Catholic school. And I’ve tried so hard to embrace the Institution of the Catholic Church. Alas, last year I finally decided that I am no longer willing to entrust my faith to an Institution that considers me to be less deserving than non-adopted adults. This decision was not easy for me. I’ve never had an issue with the Catholic faith. It is a beautiful tradition that has enriched my life in many ways. The Catholic Institution is another issue, however, as it operates adoption agencies while actively opposing the rights of adult adoptees to be treated equally under law to non-adopted adults. Until now, of course.
Fortunately, there are other traditions that are more welcoming and respectful of adopted persons–ones that don’t operate adoption agencies. And I’ve found a new home for my faith with a religious institution that I feel is more deserving of my trust and respect as an adopted person. Will the decision of the Catholic Conference of Ohio regarding adoptee rights change my own heart and feelings toward the Catholic Church? I honestly don’t know. It might be a “too little, way too late” circumstance for me personally. But if there is a chance that adopted children who are currently being raised in the Catholic faith might one day grow up to feel honored and respected as adult adoptees by the Church, my heart would feel so full.
To the Catholic Church, I ask, is the Institution willing to do this? Can it step back and consider the adoptees sitting in its pews? Can it stand up for those who had no say in the matter of their adoptions and support legislation that will help adult adoptees realize equal treatment under law?
Apparently it can.
~Bill May, president of the San Francisco-based group Catholics for the Common Good, quoted by a reporter in an article focused on a bill that would allow two people of the same sex to be listed on a child’s birth certificate.