Monday, August 27, 2012

Adult Adoptee Access Day, 7-2-12, Providence, RI

Talking Points for Adult Adoptee Access Day, 7-2-12, Providence, RI
By Steven M. Costantino, Secretary, Executive Office of Health & Human Services

Knowing where you come from.
It provides you with a sense of place, a sense of grace, a face that resembles at least some other members of your family.
Knowing where you come from.
It anchors you to your past and poses new possibilities for the future.
 Very soon, thanks to Senator Perry and Representative Carnevale, thanks to Governor Chafee, and thanks to Access Rhode Island and other advocates, many adoptees 25 and older will have a moment in time to cherish, to celebrate.  They will have that anchor to the past in the form of a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate.
 On behalf of Dr. Fine, the director of the Department of Health—one of the four departments of the Executive Office of Health & Human Services—I want to express appreciation to everyone staffing the Office of Vital Records here at HEALTH.  They have worked enormously hard to research certificates for those who have applied ahead of time, to prepare birth certificates for mailing, as requested, and to ensure that certificates that will be picked up in person are ready and waiting.
 I also wish to mention our Department of Children, Youth & Families whose staff works vigorously to facilitate successful adoptions of children who are in state care.
 This legislation signed by Governor Chafee provides adult adoptees with a passport to the past.  Whether the adults who were babies at least 25 years ago will want to pursue reunions, or whether the birth mothers and fathers will be receptive, are personal decisions.  
 But these birth certificates—these passports to the past—empower the recipients to uncover their identities, their nationalities, and to discover the very core of who they are.  In some cases, they will have valuable medical history information as well.
 It provides another dimension to their experiences with the families who chose them, and closes gaps in their existence.  It’s another affirmation of civil rights, human rights, justice.
 It’s a time for celebration and we acknowledge all here today who are responsible for the passage of this significant piece of legislation, along with the first of many who finally and rightfully receive their birth certificates.  Thank you.