Category Archives: Human Rights

State of Michigan releases my birth certificate it never had a legal right to hold

That's me holding up my original birth certificate, that shows I was a person who born in Detroit with a different name and past than the one I lived after I was adopted. This document is no longer a state secret, despite Michigan's efforts to keep it sealed in some storage area, and especially never in the hands of the human being who owns that document by birthright.

That’s me holding up my original birth certificate, that shows I was a person who born in Detroit with a different name and past than the one I lived after I was adopted. This document is no longer a state secret, despite Michigan’s efforts to keep it sealed in some storage area, and especially never in the hands of the human being who owns that document by birthright.

After decades being denied equal treament by Michigan’s “public health” officials, I finally prevailed in my test of wills with the state’s over-zealous adoption bureaucrats to secure my original birth certificate from the state of my birth. I received my copy of my original birth certificate–the document that was mine by birthright–on July 18, 2016. See my update on my adoption records request summary page.

In typical Michigan fashion and without any legal mandate, the secrecy mongers at the state marked it “SEALED” three times, just to remind me I was a lowly bastard, and not “legitimate” like all non-adoptees who are treated as persons with greater rights. Yes, dear reader, welcome to the world of adoption discrimination and paternalism, Michigan style. However, by publishing my certificate here, I am now taking away the state’s illegal and immoral assertion that my record of birth is a secret document and never meant to be touched, seen, smelled, or owned by me.

Getting my document ultimately required a court order. That was an entirely avoidable process had the state chosen to demonstrate compassion and leadership, and treat me with dignity instead of as a second-class citizen who had to be defeated at great cost. The state always had the ability to exercise discretion in its management of its duties and in accordance with law, but chose to double down on secrecy and oppose a bastard–yes, I am a bastard–who dared question the state’s power and legitimacy.

This 27-year-long effort ultimately occurred because of the state’s out-of-date and discriminatory approach toward adoptees and in managing adoption records. You can see a video of my request on my adoption web resource page. I have published a “key facts” page to summarize the issue. (See below for a detailed record of my requests and the state’s denials and replies, as well as my state Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request.) My court order, sent to the state on July 1, 2016, finally compelled reluctant “public health” officials to release my original birth certificate. The state always had the abilitiy to release my original identity document, but they chose to deny it to me as far back as 1989. I also published a long-form essay on this journey and why this matters to anyone who cares about public health, fairness, and equality.

 

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State of Michigan issued court order to release my original birth certificate

Adoption Discrmination TweetOn July 1, I received a court order from the Michigan 3rd Circuit Court that compells Michigan to release my birth certificate after refusing to release it, repeatedly, over nearly the last three decades. The state could have always released my original birth record, and in fact had consent documents signed by my birth mother to do that as far back as 1989. Instead of demonstrating leadership and prudent judgment, state records managers dug in, promoting ongoing discrimination against all adoptees on the basis of their status at birth as illegitimate and adopted children. This remains one of the least reported forms of state-sanctioned discrimination in the United State, which the media continue to ignore. One likely reason is historic and deeply archetypal attitudes to bastards a–a group that has historically experienced more than double the levels of infant mortality and death than children deemed “legitimate.”

Not surprisingly, Vital Records just called me at home on July 8, 2016, expressing confusion about the court order and what record it was asking for. Let us be clear, the court order is crystal clear that my original birth record, with my original birth name of Scott Douglas Owens, was ordered released by the court. And this was made abundantly clear in my cover letter and supporting documents, including a clear instruction in a court document telling the state to release a copy of the sealed record. Supposedly Vital Records wasn’t clear which of my birth records, for my two names (original birth name of Scott Douglas Owens and Martin Rudolf Brueggemann, my former legal name for which I have an “amended birth certificate”), the court said should be released. It may be a final delaying tactic, given the MDHHS’ actions to deny me my original identity document.

So, will they honor the court order, or will they try a delay or legal evasion? I of course let the court know this development too immediately after the call from the Vital Records staffer. I will be updating my web page and the court of the state’s actions, tactics, and communications until the court order is fulfilled.

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The fight for my birth certificate

Photo of Rudy Owens during phone-based court hearing on June 17, 2016. Following the hearing, the Hon. Judge Richard Dingell of the 3rd Circuit Court of MIchigan signed an order compelling the state of Michigan to release a copy of my original birth certificate--denied for decades because I am adopted.

This is a photo of me, Rudy Owens, during my court hearing by telephone on June 17, 2016. Following the hearing, the Hon. Judge Richard Dingell of the 3rd Circuit Court of MIchigan signed an order compelling the state of Michigan to release a copy of my original birth certificate–denied for decades because I am adopted.

I just published a record of my ongoing efforts to secure a copy of my original birth certificate from the State of Michigan. This should have been released 27 years ago, but still remains held in secret because of a regressive law the is really an expression of unchecked state paternalism that penalizes adoptees like myself. The Michigan 3rd Circuit Court has signed an order, effective June 17, 2016, compelling Michigan to surrender a copy of what is mine by birthright: a copy of my original birth certificate.

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Adoption writing, media, and more

Fist of Equality
I just created a new page on my web site dedicated to my writings, videos, and more related to adoption. I have published a video on YouTube there as well highlighting why the State of Michigan needs to end its discrimination against me and release my original birth certificate without further delay.

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