For a teenager, there's no day quite as exciting as the day you go to the DMV to get your learner's permit. It's second only to the day you get your actual license. So imagine you show up to the DMV, all smiles, only to get slapped in the face. That might as well be what happened to a 15-year-old girl who showed up at the Oregon DMV with her "adoptive" mom.
Notice how I put adoptive in quotes? Normally I wouldn't even include the word. A mom is a mom is a mom. But not for the Oregon DMV. They required Abby Woolsey's mother to indicate that she was adopted.
On an application for a learner's permit!
Really? We're discriminating against kids because they're adopted? In 2013?
Yes, this is a form of discrimination. It's treating a child who was adopted differently because of it, and for no good reason.
Abby's mom, Beth, was presented with a form that required her to check a box citing whether she was her biological parent, legal guardian, or her adoptive parent. But that's not all. When they went to the window, the clerk told Beth she now had to present PROOF that she was her adoptive parent ... proof beyond all the legal documents that every other kid is required to bring (which the Woolseys had in hand).
They were being treated differently, put through more work, because of adoption.
That's where it becomes discrimination.
At one point in time, I'll concede that there may have been a reason for the added work for parents who adopted. A woman I know was adopted in the late '60s, when the process was vastly different. When it was time for her to get her learner's permit, in the early '80s, there was one problem: she didn't have a birth certificate. In that case, her adoption mattered in terms of squaring her true identity with the one the state was about to put on an official document.
But we've come a long way since then. All i's are dotted and t's are crossed in an adoption these days. Kids have all their forms, if for no other reason than the IRS wants to track everything we do.
Forcing kids who are adopted to cop to it these days is tantamount to rubbing it in their faces that they are different. But so what? They may have come to their families in a manner that isn't the norm, but once the judge puts his stamp of approval on things, they're just like everyone else.
Trust me. I have several relatives who came into my family via adoption. They are no different than anyone else. They are my family. Period.
As Abby's mom said on her blog, Five Is a Lot of Kids:
Adoption means that I am her mother. Not that I am her legal guardian. I am her legal parent. This affords my daughter all of the same legal rights as if she was my biological daughter and me all of the same legal rights as if I was her biological mother.
That says it all, doesn't it?
Kids who are adopted don't need the world telling them they're different. Aside from perhaps a doctor's office, where medical histories of their biological parents would be different from those of their adoptive parents, their relationships with their families are their business and no one else's!
Fortunately, Beth Woolsey's complaints have led to a change for the Oregon DMV -- this should be saving other kids who were adopted from problems down the road.
It should be a lesson to anyone else who tries to treat kids who were adopted as if they're any different from any other kid. Because they're not! They're just like you and me.
Have you encountered adoption discrimination?
Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr