This editorial states that:
Adoptive adults deserve sympathy and support in reconciling with their fate. What they don’t need is a proposed state law granting them access to records that make it easier for them to identify and contact their birth parents.
Adoptees do not need sympathy or support if their “fate” is adoption. They need their adoption records and should have a right to them. How insulting is it to adoptees to insinuate that they need people to feel sympathetic towards them, but imply they should just accept the fact that they do not know their own roots?
And then, of course, there is the obligatory argument about birth mothers needing their privacy. Just once I would love to see an open records discussion that does not resort to that lame and false argument. In some states, legislators have considered birth mother privacy and reached the sound conclusion that they are not entitled to keep their identities hidden from their own children. Yet, that same tired excuse keeps popping up.
When is the last time you heard a birth mother say that she wants and deserves to remain a secret from her own child? Has anyone ever produced relinquishment papers that guarantee “privacy” for a birth mother? Sealed adoption records are forced on most birth parents and are not a choice to allow them to remain hidden from their children.
What message does it say about adoptees to keep records sealed because we believe that they cannot be trusted with their own birth certificates? Why is there such a deep-seated fear that armed with their birth certificates adoptees intend to track down their birth mothers and wreak havoc on their lives? How often does that really happen?
Access to adoption records is about rights, not reunions. Not all adoptees want to reunite. Many of the strongest adoptee advocates are already reunited. They want their records, and even after reunion are not “allowed” to obtain those records. Who does that protect?
Adoptees and birth parents reconnect with or without open records. The need to reonnect is so strong that many birth parents and adoptees find each other in many different ways. Keeping records sealed does not guarantee no reunions, it just makes it harder for those who want to reunite.
Photo by Jan Baker 2007