I had to take Diva to an appointment with a new doctor, and I received the standard pile of paperwork in the mail to fill out before our first visit. At the bottom of the form letter about being a new patient was this:
If you are not the patient’s natural parent, you must bring with you a legal document reflecting your custody of that child or a current signed/notarized statement authorizing medical treatment.
The nurse asked me if I’d been informed of the requirement for adoption papers or something, and I looked her in the eye and flatly stated, “Virginia law says that after my adoptions were finalized, we are to be treated as any other family.”
She backed down.
I asked her what they were trying to catch or prevent, and she obviously didn’t want to continue the conversation. So, for the edification of any other medical office out there (or any parent who’s tempted to hang their head and mumble, “I’m only an adoptive mom, I guess I deserve this kind of abuse…”), let me clarify exactly who this policy would catch:
- My friend’s wife, who declined to change her name when she married. Hence, Ms. Thomas takes the Smith kid to the doctor. Yes, she gave birth to this child, and no, she doesn’t need permission to take her to the doctor.
- My divorced friend, who reverted to her married name, but her kids still have their dad’s name, even though Mom has full custody. No, she also doesn’t need permission, nor does she need her nose rubbed in the fact that her marriage failed.
- My friend from Malta who married an American, who happens to be black. Her kids don’t look like her, but she doesn’t need special paperwork.
- Anybody who has adopted transracially. Because, of course, even though adoptive parents are screened for finances, parenting skills, and marital stability, unlike anybody who gave birth to a child, we need to keep an eye on those people, right?
In short, unless you’re trying to harass multi-racial families or women who have chosen to keep or revert to their married name, you aren’t going to catch anybody you wanted to find.
And who wouldn’t this policy catch?
- The various children reported missing who were taken by the parent who was apparently losing the custody battle after the divorce. (Those “have you seen me?” ads are full of kids who disappeared with someone with the same last name and about the right age difference to be a parent to the missing child.) The parent on the run would look like the child and would probably have birth certificates and other documentation.
- Any child who was abused or trafficked. (Do you really think those kids are being taken to the doctor? If they are, I’ll guarantee they have falsified documents claiming these are their kids.)
- My now-divorced friend while she was still married and taking her stepson to the doctor. They were both white, and they had the same last name. Therefore, no warning flags are tripped, even though she technically had no legal right to take her stepson to the doctor without written permission from his father.
- Anybody who adopted a child who vaguely looks like them. (Even though a child from Russia, although also white, wouldn’t look much like me.) If the “problem” is adoptees, don’t you want to catch all of them, not just the transracially adopted ones? I asked a nurse once, at another pediatrician’s office, if she would have asked for adoption paperwork if I’d walked in with a freckled red-head. “Of course not, because then she’d look like you,” she replied. “Um, not from my gene pool!” I told her.
And then let’s address the uselessness of a “signed/notarized document” authorizing medical treatment. We wrote those up for our kids for while we were gone in China; the notary only asked to see our drivers’ licenses, not to see proof that we really have kids with these names. Furthermore, unless we start tatooing social security numbers on babies like we do to cattle, there is no way to link that name to that child. So what does that paper actually tell you? Only that someone with an ID card matching the name printed under the signature line actually signed the document.
Yet another example of nonsensical discrimination and “protection” that doesn’t protect anybody.