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Shoul Adoption Records Be Open Rather Than Sealed?

Essay by   •  October 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,159 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,056 Views

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In today's society, many adult adoptees are curious about their birth records, and the information these records contain. And to their surprise, come to find out that this information is not accessible due to the fact the records are sealed. Holub, (2003) "States, " adoptee birth records are sealed because of an attitude of shame towards adoption. The original laws [that date to the 1930s and 1940s] which sealed the adoptee records specifically stated that it was to protect adoptees from shame and embarrassment of their illegitimate (i.e. Bastard) status" (Holub, para 3) Being an adoptee myself, I can relate to what others are going through in their search for self-identity. In my recent searching for my adoption information, I, too faced the heartbreak that I was denied the information that I so desperately needed so I could relate the information to my physician. There are people and organizations out there that are interested in keeping adoptee records closed. In a 2009, Bastard Nation publication, the article stated that "Well-funded lobbies representing certain adoption agencies and lawyers are working in several states to pass The 'Uniform Adoption Act' that would keep adoptees' birth records sealed for ninety-nine years and in some instances criminalize searching for one's biological relatives." This sealing of the records would make it impossible for adoptees to seek information about medical and/or physical problems that they may need. Many believe that allowing adult adoptees' access to their birth/adoption records would cause several problems. These problems can/and are both social and legal in nature. In a 2007 Freundlich, report,ed the following arguments against access to adoption records would:

1.) "Violate promises to birthmothers, 2.) Lead to the imposition of unwanted relationships

3.) Result in an increase in abortion and a decrease in adoption, 4.) Undermine the integrity of the adoptive family, 5.) Undermine the institute of adoption, 6.) Cause an increase in the foster care population."

Freundlich, also lists the following stating that" allowing adult adoptees access to their information violates:

1.) Constitutional rights to familiar privacy, 2.) constitutional rights to reproductive privacy,

3.) Constitutional rights to avoid disclosure of confidential information, 4.) Equal protection, 5.) The privacy rights of adoptive parents." (Freundlich, 2007, p 16-17)

With all the social and legal arguments facing adult adoptees today it's surprising to see many are still interested in accessing the information they believe is rightfully theirs to have and know. There has been no documented proof that allowing adult adoptees access to their adoption records, causing any negative consequences listed above.

In response to the argument allowing access to the adoption records by the adult adoptee violates promises made to the birthmothers . Promises made at the time of the adoption saying that the birthmother would remain completely confidential, are totally false. States cannot enforce these promises made to protect anonymity of the birthmother unless it is in writing and it is supported by the state statues. State statutes are not absolute and they are always being changed from one year to the next. This is why the promises that were made cannot be up held in court today.

Also, there is no evidence stating that adult adoptees granted access to their adoption records have caused unwanted relationships with the birthmothers that relinquished them for adoption. On the contrary, there are many birthmothers out there today that have spent many years wondering what had become of the child they gave up for adoption. These birthmothers were/and happy to meet with the child they had given up for adoption, and in meeting the adult child the grief which they've carried for so many years is /was resolved. And another family is created by this chance meeting of the birthmother, and the adult adoptee's families. I meeting my birthmother back in the Summer of 1994, I was nervous that she would not accept me or my family, and I was pleasantly surprised as to the welcome feelings that my birthmother had for me and my family. We spent a while just talking about the past and our feelings, and if I was angry with her for placing me up for adoption. I told her that I was not angry with her and that I respect her decision for placing me up for adoption, based on the information that I had and what we spoke about together. We still keep in touch and send each other cards and letters. I am planning to visit her at her home in Arizona sometime in the next year or two.

As for the increase in abortion and decrease in adoptions rates due to the allowing the adult adoptees access to their adoption records, has no definite relationship. The abortion rates change over the years as do adoption rates, so there cannot be any correlation that an adopted adult having access to his/her adoption records causes these changes. Furthermore there is no supporting evidence to prove that having access to their records causing women to choose abortion over adoption...

The institute of adoption is a very viable institute and adapts to the changes in society, as well as economical and cultural constraints, just as we adjust to these changes. So the argument that allowing adult adoptees access to their adoption records undermines adoption is totally unfounded and cannot be associated to the accessing of adoption records.

And last but not least, the argument that there will be changes in the foster care population. This argument states that women will choose to raise their children instead of placing them for adoption due to the laws allowing access to adoption information. This is totally untrue and if a birthmother chooses to raise her child instead of placing him/her for adoption is her right as the child's mother. Furthermore, children end up in the foster care system due to abuse or neglect. These children are placed in foster care for their protection due to this abuse or neglect they have received in the past. So to say that adult adoptees having access to adoption records will cause an increase in the foster population is an outrage, and totally unsubstantiated.

Many disagree with Freundlich, who stated that "The legal arguments are that allowing adopted adults to access their information would violate constitutional rights to

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