April 1, 2021
By: Rachel Menitoff
Watch the full piece here.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — It’s something that most of us take for granted, an original birth certificate. But for many people who were adopted in Maryland, it isn’t so easy to come by.
Peggy Klappenberger and Susie Stricker have copies of what’s called an amended birth certificate.
Both were born in Baltimore in the 1960s and 70s. But there’s a lot of information they’re missing, including the hospital where they were born and the names of their birth parents.
It’s information they say is fundamental to who they are.
“It’s a document that speaks our truth,” Stricker said.
“The original birth certificate is tangible evidence that I existed before I was adopted,” Klappenberge said.
Maryland was one of the first states to deny adoptees access to their original birth records.
The law says that if you were adopted between 1947 and 1999, you have to go through the courts to get an original birth certificate. Many times, those court
This rule eventually changed for anyone 21-years-old, adopted from 2000 on. But it still leaves many wondering where they came from.
“We see this as a human right, a social justice right,” Senator Susan Lee, (D) Montgomery County, said.
Senator Lee sponsored a bill that would give all adoptees access to original birth records. It failed in the Senate, 31-16, with opponents raising concerns about privacy.
“This was about making sure that adoption and adoption law is not radically changed without informing birth mothers and giving them any right to privacy,” Senator Cheryl Kagan, (D) Montgomery County, said.
Advocates argue that easy access to DNA testing nowadays makes this a moot point and promise to keep sharing their stories with the decision-makers in Annapolis.
“It may take another time, or another time or another time,” Klappenberger said. “But we will keep coming back because we believe this is a fundamental right.”
Advocates of this bill were not able to testify in person this year because of the pandemic. They say they’ll regroup and hopefully come back for the next legislative session even stronger.