Adoption—it’s a tricky thing to get right. Being an adoptee myself, I speak from experience. Making sure the family and the adoptee are the right fit is everything. But we often forget the process doesn’t end there—especially for the child.

Currently in the state of Texas, accessing original birth certificates, records, and contacts from the child’s birth family is an incredibly difficult process that the state does not make any easier. That is why the adoption process here in Texas must be reformed to ensure the child and the family are the top priorities.

This is important to me. Coming from Colombia and growing up in Connecticut, I couldn’t easily access my birth records. When I eventually obtained them, they were all in Spanish, and our family had to hire a translator. We were passed around from government agencies to private groups, from orphanages to hospitals, and from U.S. groups to Colombian groups. After finally getting some answers regarding my history, there were paywalls, signatures needed, and verifications required—and not just from my family and I, but from my original birth parents as well. What made this even more complicated was that there was no record of my birth mother’s existence past that hospital visit. Perhaps there was a do-not-contact order in place, but even that wouldn’t explain my birth mother’s records being so difficult to find. My family and I could not even figure out if she was still alive.

My process was not streamlined and required enormous effort for something as simple as finding my original birth certificate and which hospital I was born in. Adoptees born in the U.S. face many challenges similar to those I and my family faced–especially when it comes to obtaining their birth certificate.

Currently, 11 states provide adult adoptees with unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. Texas is one of 19 states that seal original birth certificates, meaning that adult adoptees have little or no access to their original birth certificates. In the most recent Texas Legislative Session, a bill was even proposed by Rep. Cody Harris on this very subject. It died in committee.

Some might argue access to this private information could be detrimental to the birth parents of adoptees, putting them in jeopardy of being outed, contacted, or abused. But most of the time, adoptees want closure—to understand where they came from and why this happened. Simple documentation and verification of the origins of one’s life can be incredibly impactful, and not getting that information to understand yourself could be considered far more detrimental.

Growing up here in the U.S., I was able to get a better family and childhood upbringing filled with many more opportunities than if I were still in Colombia. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a country as great as the United States and I take that to heart every single day. Who knows what would have happened to me if I grew up in the streets of Medellin?

We must do everything in our power to help empower families, parents, and their children. This is especially true for adoptees and orphans.