October 31, 2010

Adoptee and Birth Family Rights

Does an adoptee have the right to know where they came from? In the case of closed adoption, does an adoptee have the right to open the records and find out who their biological family is? Does an adoptee have the right to know their medical history? Does a birth parent or sibling have the right to know who their son, daughter, brother or sister is?

I give these questions a resounding YES. It’s tragic that laws in many States do not allow this. Some have changed their laws and opened records. In the case of closed adoptions, the birth parents/family do not have the right to know where their biological family member is or who they are. According to the International Soundex Registry, the largest reunion agency, for every 5 adoptees who are searching, there are 3 birth family members searching.

Admittedly, my views come from the standpoint of being an adoptee who spent 25 years off and on searching. Due to a changed law in my State of birth, I was able to petition the court through a Confidential Intermediary who obtains the original birth certificate. After getting the original birth certificate, they contact the birth mother (for starters) and ask if she would like contact. If it’s a yes, then they pass information on to the adoptee. In my case, the long anticipated call finally came and I found out that my birth mother died in 1994. I began my search in the mid 1980’s and if the current laws had been in place, I would have had a chance to possibly meet her and find out more about my story.

Until speaking with birth mothers first hand and reading books about them like, The Women Who Went Away, I had the mistaken impression that the majority of birth mothers did not want to be found. It’s much more complex than that. Many were told what they were going to do, sent away to have their baby, come back home and forget it ever happened.

The Confidential Intermediary that I worked with said that approximately 80% of the birth mothers she made contact with did in fact want to meet their child. Do they have a right to have this opportunity? Does the adoptee?

Please share your opinions on this. Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see this question. I believe every instance is different, therefore it is not possible to give a conclusive answer.