Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Umbrella Laws

Something that I’ve been running up against for the past thirty one years, beginning at a time when I started hunting down my own personal information, is the fact that laws that are made are often created in a way that tried to fit all circumstances under one umbrella.

I was an adopted child, and through no small feat was I able to find a sibling completely on my own without any help from the County of Los Angeles or the State of California.  I have also been able to find other documents and notes about my own adoption, no thanks to any county or state governmental agencies.

But what has been frustrating for me is that since I have a special situation (as I’m sure there are many people with varying degrees of situations that deviated from the norm), the laws of the county and of the state do not fit well or nearly at all with circumstances of my adoption. 

I lived with my father until the age of five years, when he passed away.  Also, I had contact with my natural mother until about 2006.  The problem is that whenever I have requested any sort of documents or summaries from the county or the state, they refuse to give me anything.  For instance, I would like to read notes about my own social worker history and find out how my case came to the attention of the DPSS.

And, to be more specific, the reason that I want to see any and all DPSS and adoption reports is that, though I know most of the facts, within the various social workers' notes from home visits and events that they had to arrange regarding my case, there is a built in narrative of the events that neither a simply summary, nor a knowledge of names and dates can describe without reading the full DPSS notes.  It is that narrative of events that interests me the most. 

However, the laws of the state regarding adoptions are written with the mind that the biological parents and the adoptive parents must be protected at all costs.  And when they read requests from me asking that they simply scan the DPSS records and then blacken out what they don’t’ want me to see in the way of names or specific locations, they still say no because it all falls under the umbrella of adoption related files.

Now...I am a fifty-year old man who knows who my parents were, where we lived, and almost everything about the circumstances of my adoption.  Both of my biological parents are dead, and both of my adoptive parents are dead.  I believe strongly that there should be more latitude on the judges’ decision making as to what needs to be help private that far back in the past.  Yet, the law states that since all of my parents are dead (particularly my biological parents), neither of them can sign any right to waiver of information.

That’s just not fair when I can provide proof that I know most of my own history.  And again, I’m a grown man for goodness sake.  Those umbrella laws should have a time limit or be open to more leniency as to information that can finally be provided after a long time.  The truth is that neither my biological mother or father, nor my adoptive mother or father, would have any problem with my getting a hold of my own DPSS files from Los Angeles County.  They just wouldn't care if they were alive.

It’s time for at least my own state of California to allow for questions to be answered and documents to be provided after a certain time limit, or once an adoptee can show that they have a special (non-medically related) circumstance in which the general state and county laws don’t apply well to it.  

I can tell you that it is frustrating to know that some county or state worker can order a case file from archives if they needed to, and that some other worker can walk down an aisle of case file racks, pick up my documents and read them (to create a summary or what naught), and yet I, a fifty-year old adult, can’t read my own documents.  That is completely unfair, and that’s an inflexible and not well thought out (read, fucked up) system!