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November 13, 2007


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I don't know the answer to this, nor do I know the psychological effects on the parents or the child.

Who does, each person is different.

It can not be any worse than it is now for many.

As far as effects, everyday is a new day, everyday we could be hit by a bus, shot by a gunman, go to war, have a baby, ruin a perfectly good dinner.Heck we could get amnesia or cancer.

Deep down, no one was ever promised true secrecy. But we were promised our records when we turned 18 in NY.

Guess what, I am now going on 40, and I am still waiting to get my med records and my nationalities.

I have a brother out there I don't know his age, where he is, anything.

Could go on,vent, but its not your fault for any of this. I jsut wanted to give you my two cents about you question.


The misconception that a mother can carry a child to term and not hurt every day of her life is at the heart of the "privacy" issue. There can be no greater loss and no cause or reason can lessen the pain. My mother was as much a victim as I was.
When I contacted her she said "I prayed every day for this phone call"
My only regret is that it
took until I was 34 for us to be reunited. Her last words to me, before she died, was "We didn't have enough time together"
Truth and Justice go hand in hand. All of us equal, all of us, without exception. Heal this broken bond.

Mark Diebel

It should be considered a fundamental right to know one's history. The interests of the original moms (dads) and those of the adopting parents should not preclude the right to know.

Sometimes the right to know is characterized as the ability to force others in the triad into a relationship. The emphasis is on "force." If anything, the adoptee, who's records were sealed, was forced into a relationship of ignorance with his past and then forced again by each roadblock set in his path. This argument, used by the NCFA, is false. It is insidious how it twists reality just enough to sway some to believe it.

This shouldn't be about anyone's psychology or personal interests. It should be seen that a human being must know where s/he comes from and that it is matter of human dignity.


Absolutely! I was adopted and I feel that I should have the right to know who my biological parents are! (I found out already, and it's been healing for me)

Gaye Tannenbaum

I continue to be amazed at the lengths that the Opposition will go to in order to justify the continued secrecy of what should be MY history.

Regarding the supposed consequential link between open records and increased abortions, Marlene Lao-Collins of the Catholic Conference was quoted this morning (11/12/07) as saying that she knew of no data supporting this concern, "but even if it just happened once, that would be one too many."

Sounds like she has her back against the wall.

Joyce Bahr

Mothers who surrendered to adoption signed surrender papers terminating their parental rights. Surrendering to adoption has never given any parent a right of privacy or interest of privacy. You are underpinning by using privacy as it relates to abortion, not adoption. I'm a 59 year old mother who
surrendered to adoption and a woman who remembers what rights were afforded women. In the 70's when abortion became legal there was a
federal law enacted giving women a right to privacy in the early trimester of pregnancy in abortion. In some agency adoptions social workers would tell women "You will have
confidentiality" and that means it was imposed on women along with other statements made to them such as; you will forget you baby and you will go on with your life.I did not know the meaning of the word confidentiality.
The nasty social worker told me it meant the agency would not give out this information to anyone, not that the agency could somehow guarantee me my son would not one day find me. I am the founder of Manhattan Birthparents Support Group and have met many women who surrendered to adoption,
none of them ever mentioned getting any kind of right. Upon calling the agency to reunite with my son the social worker never mentioned any thing about rights.
Since agency records are not sealed it was the policy of the agency in Chicago to facilitate my reunion and I was reunited with my son in 1987--He was 19. If I had signed a contract of confidentiality
I would have remembered. Oh! back in the days, women were told, if they loved their baby they would do what was best and give it up. And some women died having "back alley" abortions.-- Many years have passed, reinventing laws that never existed for women is wrong and there would have to exist written and signed promises
in order to deny adoptees
access to their own documentation. With new laws in Maine, Alabama, Oregon and New Hampshire and pending legislation in New York and Texas birth/natural mothers have the option of filing a no contact preference, meaning the adoptee gets a copy of their original birth certificate but will know the mother does or does not not want to be contacted. Data on the Oregon and New Hampshire websites is proof very few want"no contact". There are several support groups for mothers who lost children to adoption on line or live.Women have become empowered to search for adult adoptees. New Zealand the first country to give women the right to vote gave natural mothers rights and adoptees rights to birth certificates in 1984 and England gave adoptees rights in 1975 and
natural mothers the right a few years ago.Canada gives mothers rights in some provinces. Natural, birth, biological, first or mother
whatever you want to call us we have issues that need to be heard and we should not be closeted by society.Good idea for women to know their history and for adoptees to be liberated from the archaic sealed record law. I have to say " I am sick of the word confidentiality" and
adoptees are too! Let's all
talk civil rights and drop the confidentiality.

A parent

There are privacy concerns that extend to family members. I am the father of a child, whose mother and I gave birth to in our hearts. My feelings and love for my child seem to be so easily dismissed by those who debate the issue of the rights of birth parents and adoptees. Adoptive parents seem to be tossed aside in most debates. As if we don't exist or played only a marginal role in our child's life. As if we "rented" the adoptee. You don't know my child so please do not speak for them or assume their desires are the same as yours. And don't discount the adopted parent and adopted family part in this triangle. We too have information to share, stories to tell, medical history to impart, cultural experiences to share. My child is wonderful and I can tell you about my child. Every person, regardless of their birth or status, has an inherent right to their personal privacy. And that includes the right to waive their personal privacy; and that right should not be legislated away. I do not want my child hurt. Therefore, if a child, adoptive parent, or birth parent wish to seek out one another I prefer the "contact choice" option so that sharing information (medical, family history, heritage, etc.) can be done so without names or personally identifiable information being disclosed if the birth parent, the adopted parent, or my child wish to remain annoymous. A confidential process can be in place that can correctly match the child, adopted parent, and birth parent. Breaking that confidentiality should be a joint decision; not a legislated decision. Just as I have no right to violate your personal privacy you have no right to violate my privacy or the privacy of my child against our will. I believe there is a moral right to choose to know information about your personal history, background, heritage, etc., but there is a right to personal privacy that all parties need to freely waive. Please do not advocate so strongly that you remove a child's choice to know or release personally identifying information at any point in their life. As a parent, please do not intentionally or unintentionally harm my child. They will decide wisely.


Every other person in the United States has access to their birth certificate. I honestly don't see why adoptees should be denied this basic human right. It's legal discrimination cloaked behind privacy issues and adoptive parents entitlement.

And in response to "A parent" if you loved your child unconditionally you wouldn't feel the need to possess them like you do. With your attitude, your child would never let you know if they wanted to search or not. Maybe you shouldn't be speaking for them either. And they don't need open records to do so - plenty of people find each other without the help of records.


Do not confuse this civil right with reunion and medical history issues. They are not one and the same. It might lead to those issues. What these laws do is give us back our choices. If adoption creates a harmful situation, then why continue to allow adoption to proceed?

The states are violating my right to privacy as well as my fourth amendment rights. The right to privacy has been consistantly proven to mean the right to be free from governmental intrusion. As adoptees, we are denied that right because the states are in our business.

We as adoptees didn't give our consent to the adoption. We are the only ones who have no choice in this. As adults we should be given the same rights as those who did sign.

It is the adoption industry that opposes adoptee access to their own OBC. It is to cover their own rear ends. They take advantage of adoptees and their families. Explain to me why Minnesota and South Carolina are both requiring all parties sign affadavits that don't hold adoption agencies liable for their actions.

addie pray

"And don't discount the adopted parent and adopted family part in this triangle. We too have information to share, stories to tell, medical history to impart, cultural experiences to share."

You must be one super duper adoptive parent to be able to impart medical history. As good a job as my own adoptive parents did, they couldn't pull that off. The did realize that they knew near nothing of my medical history, and that these things change though the years.

And I should point out that in a way everybody "rents" their children, be they natural or adopted. All children grow up and go on to make their own decisions. All adopted adults should have the right to make decisions regarding their adoption records. If this right isn't afforded to them, in a way, they go on being children forever. If your goal in parenting is to raise responsible able adults, standing for denying them this right, in a way say to me that you fear that you will fail in your goals.

When it all comes down, adoption records, original birth certificates, belong to the adoptee, just as anyone else's birth certificate, medical history, heritage, is exclusively their own.

julie j

Yes, records of birth should be restored to adult adoptees in all states. They should have the SAME rights all other adult citizens have. It is in the interest of doing what is fair, what is humane, and what is right.

Currently an entire class of people is being discriminated against for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth.

It may once have been a social stigma for a single woman to raise a child. Thankfully, society's views have evolved over the years, it's time for the laws to reflect that.

It turns out in the 8 states with equal access and in all the other countries around the world that don't deny adoptees their truths, there have been none of the feared disasters as a result. It turns out the old excuse about adoptees and natural mothers needing protection from each other is false. It turns out it is detrimental to an adoptee to deny him his identity & heritage. It turns out it is healing and beneficial for the adult adoptee to know who he is & where he came from. It is every person's birthright to have that much information. It is wrong for the government to withhold that from law-abiding, tax-paying, adult citizens.

The new Donaldson report verifies all of this & more is true, and it urges the rest of the states to give adoptees their birth records, too.

Everyone else has had a choice in the adoption, the first mother, the adoptive parents, but not the adoptee who was a baby at the time. Now it is time to level the playing field by giving adult adoptees the SAME human rights that everyone else has, this is not extra rights, but EQUAL rights!

Adoption was supposed to be about what's best for the adoptee. What is best is equality and honesty.

Thank you.


I use to have a completely different view on adoption until that first time I sat in the doctor’s office with my daughter and filled out the paperwork. I had tears in my eyes as I answered unknown to the majority of the questions. That is the first time I realized that this is going to be her reality. I would give anything in this world for her to have any information about her real parents. Unfortunately, since she was born in China, I don’t know if we will ever find out anything. Even though I am kind of stuck about what to do for my daughter, I can still help her fellow adoptees here in the US. I believe that every adopted person should have access to the same information that every other person is entitled to. They had no choice in the matter so why should they be denied this information. Like someone mentioned earlier, adoption is suppose to be about what is best for the adoptee. Let’s finally do what’s best for them and let them have their records.

Ron Morgan

Adult adoptees have the right to unconditional access to their unaltered records of birth, just like every other citizen. How this impacts first parents, adoptive parents, spouses, children, etc., is really up to the individuals and families involved, just like every other citizen. The notion that the government should have stake in mediating the personal business of law-abiding citizens is intrusive and outrageous on its face. Frankly, the principals underlying the laws sealing adoption records from the persons to whom they pertain are consistent with the new assertions by the head of the NSA that we must redefine "privacy" to be whatever the government thinks is good for us to know. This is antithetical to true privacy rights, which are the rights to live as law abiding citizens without government intrusion. As an adult adoptee I will NEVER cede my right to my identity, my history or my records.


Every adult adoptee needs to know the truth of their identity and being. Every adoptee is forced to live a ficticious life with an identity that is not their own...Every adult adoptee deserves to know his or her surnames, genetics, heritage, self! Natural parents were allowed to live their lives and should honor the fact that their offspring need to live theirs with honestly and the truth! All adult adoptees deserve at the very least their original birth certificates.....no more damaging secrets and lies...speakng truth to power here...power to all adult adoptees now..we are hurting...


Your records your right, my records my right. Period.


It's honestly not about pitting parents against their children. It's a matter of civil rights and identity.

Show me one other group of Americans who are denied access to their names and birth certificates.


In response to AParent, you will find your medical history is of no value to the adopted members of your family.

Thé issue of access to original birth certificates isn't about an invasion of privacy. It's not really something that should involve the adoptive parents since usually it's an adult adoptee who would get access to their obc.

Further, you might want to face those fears and open your heart to us gorgeous articulate and fabulously fun mothers who can only bring light and wonderfulness to our children't lives. Should your worst fear come true and we do end up having contact with our children.....be welcoming and loving rather than afraid.

You have nothing to fear from us.

Robert Allan hafetz

There is no conflict of privacy rights here at all.The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no right of procreational privacy, further there is no such right written into any state adoption law.The Donaldson report shows that most first mothers and adoptees want to find each other. As adults we have the constitutional right of assembly just like any one else.The state doesn't choose who we can associate with we do. But not in the case of adoptees. We are treated as perpetual infants.

Robert Allan hafetz

Evan P. Donaldson Adoption Institute has recently released a study of adoption in America. The study named Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees (2007) recommends that “every state should amend its laws to restore unrestricted access for adult adopted persons to their original birth certificates-which historically, had been their right nationwide.” Further “in states that allow access, there has been no evidence that the legal changes have caused problematic behavior by adopted persons or damage to birth mother’s lives.” The assertion by critics that abortion rates will rise and adoption rates will fall-is not supported by the evidence; in fact just the opposite is occurs.”
This timely report shines the light on one group of Americans who are denied equal protection under the law. Adoptees do not have the same right as anyone else to know their natural identity, ethnicity, medical history, or even to know the mother they shared their existence with for the first nine months of their lives. When a young mother makes the choice to relinquish her own child for adoption, it’s made out of the highest love and devotion to that child. For her sacrifice she pays a high price. She will be prevented for the remainder of her life from ever knowing the fate of the child she gave life to. She must live alone in her grief and loss, silently bearing the burden of a selfless act of love. In another place there is her baby now an adult who holds the power to heal her grief. Standing between them is a state holding her identity in secret, against her will, preventing these two adults from the right of assembly because one was adopted. In the eyes of the state adoptees remain infants forever. Give us the right to come together if we choose to, just like anyone else.

Robert Allan Hafetz
1014 Surrey lane
Warrington, PA 18976


(Almost) everyone here has made the most clearly salient points, but let me add my voice to the chorus. Adoptees are denied access to the documents generated by their birth. This contains information that is theirs, and theirs alone. Every other citizen has a right to acquire these documents. Only adoptees are denied equal protections under the law.

This is not about pitting the interests of one group against another. Others may have interests in denying adoptees this information, but their interests should have no bearing on this.

To the parent who is worried about "forcing" access on his children... Opening the records does not mean shoving them in someone's face. The adoptive parents and the birth parents had a say in what happened. The adoptee has no say. To deny the adoptee the right everyone else has is discrimination, pure and simple.

Julie R.

If adoption was indeed in our best interest as children, why should that tacit agreement end with a slap in the face the moment we want equal access as citizens under the law?

I don't recall selling my soul to the devil as an infant.


"I think it comes down to this--Is the interest of the adopted adult greater than the privacy interest of the birth parents."

Wrong question! Try it this way:
"Is the compelling life interest of 97% of all adopted adults greater than the imagined privacy interest of the 3% of birth parents who don't wish to be reunited with their own adult offspring?"


I'm an adoptive parent, and I support adoptees gaining the Right to accessing information that IS theirs, that should be theirs, after all.

Giving them access to this information is not doing anything TO adoptive parents. Giving them access to this information is simply giving them what every other person in this country has, the information that they received upon birth.

This is not about reunions with first parents. This is about obtaining documents. Reunions is a separate issue altogether. Not allowing adoptees to have THEIR information is making them into second-class citizens, perpetual children when they are adults who are, indeed, capable of handling knowing who they are, what people they came from, and what medical issues they may have.

It is a civil rights issue, pain and simple. It does not need to be complicated with other issues.

Pamela Rolande Hasegawa

In 1989, War Babes, a group of persons born to British mothers and U.S. soldiers stationed in the U.K. during WW2, brought a case in the U.S. to gain access to the addresses of their birth fathers.

(From http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/CHILDREN.HTM:) "Until 1990 the National Personnel Records Centre (NPRC) refused to provide identifying information to war babes searching for a GI father, on the grounds that it was a breach of the Freedom of Information laws. In the late eighties with the support of the Public Citizen Litigation Group in America, Shirley McGlade and "War Babes", filed a law suit against NPRC and the Department of Defense, on the grounds that the information sought was legally available within the FOIA. In November 1990 a settlement was reached, with NPRC agreeing to a number of demands including that they release information about the city, state and date of whatever addresses are contained in the records of the GI. If the father is deceased the entire address is to be released."

This is just one example of the inequities in the systems preventing daughters and sons from knowing the identities of their original parents.

I was fortunate to be given the court order and hospital bill (containing my name and my birth mother's) by my dad when I turned 18; some adoptees' parents memorized their child's birth name and birth mother's name as well when receiving it from a social worker or attorney at the time they received the child.

I never stop being amazed at the ruckus raised around our desire to know our names at birth and the names of our original parents. It is so SIMPLE! As an attorney defending sealed records in NY in the ALMA vs. Mellon case said at the appeals court, "Your Honors: Do you realize what these people are ASKING? They want to know who their PARENTS are!"

Rocket science, eh?

We had to zipper our mouths and sit on our hands because we wanted to stand and shout, "Right you ARE, buddy!" but we would have been ejected from the court room.

Smoke and mirrors have deceived legislators long enough.

Justice Louis Brandeis said, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” One doesn’t have to think too long before understanding that those protesting the most vociferously may have far more to lose themselves than the birth mothers they claim to be protecting.

Pamela Rolande Hasegawa

Waaaaaaaaaaait a minute! I just re-read (more carefully) the tag-line in the lead question. WHO is talking about making adoption records "public"? Not the advocates I know who want adopted people to be able to access their records. In three decades of working for access I've never heard anyone ask for PUBLIC access to adoption records or adoptees' original birth certificates.

One of the reasons records were sealed was to keep nosy neighbors from gaining access to information that is none of their business. That should remain true. As Elizabeth Samuels points out in her Rutgers Law Review article, most states sealed adoption-related records in two stages: the first was against access by anyone other than the parties involved; the second, usually coming within a few years of the first, was to close off access across the board -- including to adoptive parents and adoptees themselves (and of course, to the birth parents, who were supposed to forget giving birth and relinquishment. Of course.) See http://americanadoptioncongress.org/pdf/idea_of_adoption.pdf for a fascinating glimpse at the actual reasons birth records were sealed and the social forces that led to serious misunderstandings about those reasons.

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