See this little boy? This little boy is Lucas, and he is my one and only son. To date, he is the
only first biological relative on this Earth that I am was ever aware of.
And I would lay down my life for him, as any father should for their child.
But there are people that would actively seek to prevent me from doing this, the greatest job I've ever had to do. There are people who actually have the outright nerve to say "No" to this little boy, to tell me that I can't do the one thing that a father is supposed to do above all other things: Provide the best possible future for their child.
And what's worse, these people are elected officials who are bound to enforce an actual law that has the nerve to legislate that this little boy can't have all of the things he needs to have a shot at a happy, healthy life. A law that I have since found to be unconstitutional - a violation of both mine and Lucas' Equal Protection rights.
Who writes such a law? And who enforces such a law? The correct answers to those questions are "Nobody should write such a law, because it violates the US Constitution" and "Nobody should enforce such a law, because it violates the US Constitution."
The law in question was somehow passed in 1984 by the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Acting on the notion that they were somehow defending the rights of parents to remain anonymous, they decided that they would seal ALL adoption records in Pennsylvania. So, for the first seven years of my life, I could have had access to this information, had I actually wanted it. Back then, of course, I was far too concerned with video games and school, and it remained a non-concern for the better portion of my life that followed.
And now that I actually have a reason to want this information, I'm finding that this law does far more in its willful violation of the ultimate law of this great nation.
While only on a theoretical level, it is possible for an adult adoptee such as myself to have my records unsealed and the information that I want. The problem with that idea becoming reality is, the same 1984 law that sealed my records in the first place also created hurdles and hoops for me to jump over and through.
First of all, I must provide a reason for my desire to have the records unsealed, which will be weighed by a judge. This is where the law becomes unconstitutional: By holding my reasons for wanting my records suspect at all, they're segregating adoptees like me into a new "suspect class," separate from Pennsylvanians who were not adopted - While all non-adoptee Pennsylvanians can petition Harrisburg and get their records on a whim, adoptee Pennsylvanians have to prove valid reason and go through a long, drawn-out and often hopeless court process. This is a clear and direct violation of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment, which reads as follows, as found on USConstitution.net:
Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights. Ratified 7/9/1868. Note History 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.This law is clearly unconstitutional: It creates two classes of Pennsylvanians, who are not protected equally under the rule of law - Adoptees and Non-adoptees.
And I'm sure you're all wondering what my "suspect" reasons are, so I'll spell out my entire plan for you all to see and judge for yourselves. I have nothing to hide in this matter: My reasons are crystal clear, and entirely valid.
By having my records unsealed and my biological parents' names known to me, I can begin the search for them. If and when I find them, the only thing I want to do is ask them for a general overview of their medical history.
Between 1977 (when I was born) and 2010 (over two and a half years after Lucas was born), medical science has improved by leaps and bounds. We know far more about genetics and medicine today than we did during the period when I was born. Hell, when I was born, you could still smoke in a hospital! Today, we know that certain types of cancer are genetic, as well as a whole host of other serious conditions. We understand the concept of carriers better than we did then - for example, the only real piece of biological medical history I have is that epilepsy has shown up in my family. Who's to say that other conditions haven't shown up, and might show up in Lucas or any of the children he may have?
I simply can't know this information unless I contact my parents. It is my belief that this information is vital to giving Lucas a good chance at having a happy and healthy future. At least armed with information I didn't have right away, he stands a better chance of being ready to cope with these things should they arise than I had.
Is that too much to ask? I think not. I'm quite sure that there won't be anyone who would argue that this isn't something that I owe my son. That's why I'm fighting.
Because the court is treating my reasons as suspect, I'd also like to outline, in no uncertain terms, the things that I DO NOT wish to do at all.
1. I do not want to suddenly inject myself back into these people's lives. It's not like I'm trying to force a meeting with them. Far from it: I have survived for 32 years without meeting my biological parents, and I don't feel any great need to meet them now, either. If my parents want to meet me/us, that's fine, I have no problem with that. But it is THEIR CHOICE.
2. Given what little information I do have about my biological parents, it's safe to assume that I am the first-born child for either of them, most certainly for my mother. However, it is NOT MY INTENTION to find them for the purpose of asserting my status as such in any of their affairs, period. I don't want money, I don't want in on any will, I don't want any piece of any possible estate, none of that.
No, my reason is simple: I just want to have the information I feel necessary in order to do my job as a father. That's it.
So, why am I being treated like a second class Pennsylvanian? And more importantly, why the hell are you treating my SON like a second class Pennsylvanian? He lives here too, you know, and he has the right to the information that I want to provide for him, just like any other Pennsylvanian does.
I am doing this solely for him. And in a State - and in particular, a county - where deadbeat dads are almost the norm, I think that should be recognized. Even though I may not see my son, I'm not giving up on him like so many others have before me. No - this child WILL know his father, and he WILL know that his father loves him more than anything else in this damned universe. And as his father, it's my job to make sure he gets a fighting chance at life.
And I will not allow something so vile as this unconstitutional attempt to legislate to stop me from doing that job.
The State of Pennsylvania is on notice: I aim to set a precedent, even before any further legislation can be considered on this subject. If I'm right, the law - along with any pending legislation that may seek to strengthen it rather than oppose it - will be declared unconstitutional, and we will no longer have to live as "second class" Pennsylvanians.
My son and I are Pennsylvanians - no class restrictions. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure that we can both claim that right.
-- 7/24/10 - Updated due to the surprise appearance of my biological father and his side of the family, giving Lucas even more people to know. Mission accomplished, at least partially so far. I now possess all the information that I figured would be in my adoption records, and what was confirmed to exist by the Judge.
So, what's the next step? Mom. She's going to be a jewel to find, that's for sure. First thing's first, though: Contacting her old high school and seeing if I can't find a yearbook picture of her...