“Deception is a cruel act… It often has many players on different stages that corrode the soul.”

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My adoptive mother and stepfather obviously had a lot of clout. A number of years ago when I petitioned the courts for my adoption records, I received much more than anyone would have ever expected.

The judge’s secretary asked, “What is the significance of this date that your adoption records were sealed?” I was the age of 6. Coincidentally, it was a short time after my adoptive mother and my well-to-do stepfather had married, and oddly, close in years to when my natural mother had died, a married mother of three older children that had placed me for adoption at birth from infidelity. In the state where I was born, adoption records started being sealed the year before my birth.

Obviously, the judge didn’t know what was in the confidential court records that he had signed in order for me to obtain a copy, but I couldn’t go back and ask, “So, did you know that my adopted brother’s file was sealed with mine?” Perhaps if we had been biological siblings adopted into the same family, I could have seen where someone might have sealed the records together, but we are not related by blood. His adoption had a separate case number and attorney. I know that I would have been very upset if my personal records had been given to anyone else by mistake or otherwise.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I knew that my parents must have had some part in wanting the truth to be hidden. My adoption records had been sitting in the courts all these years sparse and incomplete. Even if some individuals didn’t say it out loud, I still often felt their judgment towards me, “That’s what you get for requesting to open up a can of worms.”

I gave my adopted brother back his records, but it wasn’t easy to explain why I had them in the first place.

There was nowhere to turn to protest how wrong all the deception was then, and still feels today. As the adoptee, I didn’t just feel like the underdog, I absolutely was the underdog. My parents refused to even tell me where I could find a copy of what turned out to be my only birth certificate in the courts.

In the state where I was born, original birth certificates were not sealed until the early 1970’s. After an adoption is finalized in the courts, the child’s original birth certificate is sealed with their birth parent’s information, separate from the adoption file. The legal document is then replaced with an amended birth certificate on file with the adoptive parent’s names. At first, one might think that in my particular circumstance it was just a simple error that could have easily been rectified, but apparently, my sealed “sketchy” adoption records were indeed a farce. How insulting it was to learn that I still had a no-name original birth certificate. I am listed as my late birth mother’s child, a woman I had never had a chance to know.

One of many nagging questions I have is, “How did my parents enroll me in an unusual amount of schools over the years?” If they had a birth certificate for me that had been falsified, whose names were listed as my parents on that legal document?

Unfortunately, until the day they died, Mom and Dad had all the money in the world to keep from answering for all of their wrongs.

For a long time, I have had this internal battle going on. I’ve been trying to convince myself that the injustices shouldn’t matter anymore. But it does. I just want one Judge to take the time to talk with me and ask what it is that I need for closure now. Instead, Judges in three different states where I have lived during my lifetime keep giving me disturbing court records that I’ve had to try on my own to pull the bits of truth out of all the nonsense. Yes, and lawyers have offered to help me, but of course, they want more than my arm and leg for their expensive fees. And not one has said they even know if there is a feasible answer.

Dear Judges,

I have already had to pay dearly throughout my life for many others’ oversights and dishonesty. Please, it’s time that for once my voice as the adoptee matters. I need to be treated with more respect.

Why should I have to spend any more wasted time and money to try and fix a problem with my birth certificate? The way I see it, the courts didn’t have enough safeguards to prevent my parent’s trail of deceit, which is not my fault.

Couldn’t we discuss this face-to-face and come up with some kind of once-and-for-all resolution? What I desire most, is that when I go to renew my driver’s license and get my first passport, that I not be hassled because I don’t know how to prove who I am. Although I went by two maiden names over the years, my birth mother’s last name on my birth certificate is the only truth in this story. However, I haven’t gone by her last name since the day I was born, or have I? It hurts too much to say that the parents who raised me didn’t feel it was important enough to fess up and keep it real. I am asking from the bottom of my heart for a Judge to please read this and help me put an end to this complicated mess. Thank you!

Sincerely,

JoAnne Bennett

Author: JoAnne

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5 Comments

  1. Would love to see you get a nice response.

  2. Putting on my thinking cap…

  3. I pray that the Lord gives you the desires of your heart!

  4. Would love to see you get closure. What about contacting the local news to put a spotlight on your story?

  5. A person should be able to have access to their own records.

    I’m sorry you have encountered such deception. It’s wrong in so many ways.

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