Two Michigan-based adoptee rights organizations, along with a nationally focused law center, have formed the Michigan Adoptee Rights Coalition to push for legislative change in the state, with an initial focus to restore the right of adult adopted people to obtain a copy of their own original birth certificates.
The coalition’s core partners include Adoptee Advocates of Michigan, Michigan Adoptee Collaborative, and Adoptee Rights Law Center. Additional core and strategic partners may be added to the coalition as advocacy work continues in the state.
Understanding my origin was my first step in healing. We all deserve the right to our own story, and I am honored to work with this wonderful group of adopted people,” said Valerie Lemieux, one of the founders of Adoptee Advocates of Michigan, a core partner in MARC. “I am excited for the opportunity to make important changes in Michigan for our adopted community.”
Michigan Adoptee Collaborative is led in part by Erica Curry Van Ee, an Ohio-born adoptee and long-time Michigander. Over the years Van Ee has developed close connections to Michigan legislators and has been working to educate them on the issue of original birth certificates for adult adopted people.
“As an adult adoptee who was denied access to my original birth certificate because of the year I was born, I have deep empathy for the discrimination faced by thousands of Michigan-born adoptees, ” Curry Van Ee said about her own experience in Ohio. ” It is unfathomable that adopted people continue to be denied the basic right to their vital record. Fortunately that is changing as more legislative leaders become aware that this important issue impacts millions of people in the United States.”
Advocates have been meeting in the past few months with Michigan legislators, including the author of HB4529, to craft a bill that would restore a right every Michigan-born adult adopted person once had: the right to request and obtain your own original birth certificate. While the bill is still in the works, it promises to be introduced with broad bipartisan support.
Michigan currently uses an overly complex and discriminatory intermediary system that was built on a now repealed Minnesota law. Under current law, the release of an OBC largely depends on when a person was adopted and whether any listed birthparents have consented or refused to release their contact information. Caught up in that intermediary process is one piece of paper: the adoptee’s original birth record, which for most Michigan-born adoptees cannot be released without a court order.
“Michigan is one of two ‘donut hole’ states in the country, where the date you were born or adopted determines whether you get your own birth record at all,” said Gregory Luce, the founder of core partner Adoptee Rights Law Center. “Unlucky Michigan-born adoptees who fall into that donut hole—basically anyone adopted between the years of 1945 and 1980—get nothing unless they successfully petition a Michigan court to release the OBC.”
Sign up below to be part of the Michigan effort, especially if you are a Michigan resident or Michigan-born adopted person.