I want to preface this blog by saying that I am no expert on the South Carolina situation. I am pretty sure, though, that I have interpreted the law correctly.
I’m posting this entry as a smaller part of the big picture of sealed adoption records in the age of the national security state. While our battle is always about equal treatment under law and due process, in the restoration of our right to our original birth certificates, there are serous practical and political consequences that grow out of our lack of access.
Last night, Anne Piper Boyd, one of Bastard Nation’s Facebook friends posted a section from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles homepage regarding application identification requirements to obtain a driver’s license in the state. It seems if you are adopted, the BMV–at least in theory– demands proof!
The activist group down there, South Carolina Adoptee Rights (SCAR–how appropriate!) tells us:
When an agency or attorney closes their business, there is not a statute that the files be retained or turned over to the state or how long the file has to be kept by the attorney or agency as the state only keeps records for the adoptions they handle.
It is unclear if SCAR is including OBC release in its description, so I went a little farther: to the HHS Child Welfare Information Gateway since it has a portal for OBC and identity access laws that is quicker than slogging through the state code. I found this for South Carolina.
Access to Nonidentifying Information
Citation: Ann. Code § 63-9-780
- The health and medical histories of the birth parents
- The health and medical history of the adoptee
- The adoptee’s general family background without name references or geographical designations
- The length of time the adoptee has been in the care and custody of the adoptive parent
- The adoptee is age 21 or older, and the applicants apply in writing to the adoption agency for the information.
- The agency has a current file containing affidavits from the adoptee and the birth parents and siblings that they are willing to have their identities revealed to each other.
- The agency has established and maintained a confidential register that contains the names and addresses of the adoptee and birth parents and siblings who have filed affidavits.
- The adoptee and his or her birth parents and siblings have undergone counseling by the adoption agency concerning the effects of the disclosure. The adoption agency may charge a fee for the services, but services must not be denied because of inability to pay.
No disclosure may be made within 30 days after compliance with these conditions. The director of the adoption agency may waive the 30-day period in extreme circumstances. The agency may delay disclosure for 20 days from the expiration of the 30-day period to allow time to apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin the disclosure for good cause shown.
Access to Original Birth Certificate
In fact, if the amended birth certificate is the forever birth certificate for the forever Baby Bumble, is the pre-adoption information necessary? As adopta tradition goes: You didn’t exist before you were adopted.
And that is just about as absurd as we can get.
Unbelievable. May I link to you?
Sure! Feel free to link anytime. Thanks.
Excellent reporting, thanks.
This is Anne, I am moving to SC from AL, where I have held a valid license since 1984. Are these clowns really telling me that I have to dig up 44 year old adoption records from Virginia? Are they really telling me that to **transfer a valid license from AL to SC*** I have to magically procure documents that the powers that be don’t believe that I am entitled to?
THANK YOU for blogging this!
To Anne (moving from AL):
I can’t speak to all possible differences regarding adoptees – but I moved to SC from GA in 2004, and didn’t have to show a birth certificate, original or otherwise, to get a SC drivers license. I had to surrender my
GA license, and show proof of address (typically, bank statement, utility bill, lease, etc.)
I have no idea what happens if you move here and don’t have a current drivers license.
(Completely different issue – are you keeping up with the Baby Jessica case here in SC, where a couple adopted a baby from Oklahoma 2 years ago; biological father filed for custody 4 months later; SC court ruled in favor of the bio-father and now he has the child; now it’s going to SC Supreme Court)?
I was born and adopted in SC in 1976. My adoption was private through attorneys. Those same attorneys told me when I came looking that they kept my file 7 years and then destroyed it. My adoption was also finalized 3 days after birth on the word of my adoptive parents’ priest. No home studies, no background checks. I was also adopted by an out of state couple which is supposed to be against SC code but my birth mom told me that she was simply told where to sign and nothing was ever explained to her and she specifically remembers wondering why they wanted her to sign a paper saying it was okay to take me out of the state of SC when she was told my adoptive parents were from SC. The attorneys also told my parents that I could get my OBC when I turned 18, knowing full well that they were lying. The ABC that I have does not look suspicious – except that they noted my father’s occupation as a CPA. He did not become a CPA until I was about 6 or 7 years old and I even remember the day he got his credentials. I am lucky that my parents saved any and all paperwork regarding my adoption; meaning that I have the final decree which I can show as proof of how my name changed. However, my mother’s name was carefully omitted from everything. Not blacked out – just never even typed! Everything refers to her as the “minor mother” or the “natural mother”. And all mentions of me are as Baby Girl Roe until the last section of the final decree where the court orders my name to be changed to what my adoptive parents wanted. (And no, Roe was no my birth name. This is apparently what SC does in regards to children placed for adoption. We’re all Baby Girl or Baby Boy Roe.) Everything in this article is true because I learned it all back in the 90s when trying to find my birth mom.