Over the past few years, I have engaged in the difficult process of attempting to obtain my original birth records. They are sealed because I was adopted when I was 2. In September of 2001, I was reunited with most of my natural family on my father's side and my maternal step-grandfater one Sunday afternoon. In some ways, it felt like my father and I hadn't really been apart so long. Even so, in November of 2001, I was informed by the Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County (where I was born), that in order to obtain my birth records, I would have to petition the court. I obtained the necessary paperwork, completed it and filed it along with the filing fee. After nine months, I received a letter from the judge of that court stating that my situation did not exemplify "good and compelling cause" to unseal my records. However, no one at the court was able to explain to me what would satisfy the "good and compelling cause" requirement.

Dad and Cordelia Mom,Gram,Grgram

The photo on the left shows my father and stepmom, Russell and Cordelia. The photo on the right shows my mother, Patty (center) with my grandmother, Marolyn (left) and great-grandmother, Louise (right).


Clearly, "good and compelling cause" has no definition or exemplative defining terms or conditions or points of reference. It is a "requirement" that is left solely to the discretion of the judge presiding over each individual case. There is no standard. There is no definition.

The excuse used by those who wish to keep records sealed is that it is for the "protection of privacy" for the natural families. This certainly does not apply, as my family is happily reunited.

I plan to appeal my case.