The Independent Adoption Center (IAC), the largest open adoption agency in the US, strongly supports open records for adult adoptees. The IAC believes that every person should be able to access his or her original birth certificate and family records. The IAC advocates changing the state laws, where needed, so that all adopted individuals have access to this information. This is a matter of civil rights and human dignity.
“Adopted individuals have the right to know about their genetic history and the reasons for their adoptive placement, “ explained Ann Wrixon, IAC Executive Director. “All adoptees have basic questions such as ‘Who do I look like?’ and ‘Why was I placed?’ Unfortunately, state legislatures outlawed the right to this information during the years of closed adoption with the permanent sealing of all records pertaining to the adoption.”
Today the majority of voluntary adoptions are open adoptions, where the parties involved maintain ongoing contact over the years, thereby eliminating the need for adult adoptees to have to go to court to obtain their birth records. Birthparents and adopting parents typically meet before the baby is born and continue to have ongoing contact over the years. This contact may vary from periodic written communication to visits in person once or twice/year or more frequently. With open adoption, the child does not struggle with unanswered questions or a lack of information about his or her history. Instead, he or she has answers and information on an ongoing basis. This promotes better mental health for the child, as well as the other parties to the adoption.
In open adoptions, in order to protect the rights of all parties, the IAC supports legally enforceable open adoption agreements. These agreements don’t hinder the relationship between the adoptive parents and birthparents in any way; they simply outline what the parties themselves have agreed to. These agreements preserve the rights of all members of the adoption triad.
The goal of both open records and open adoption is to provide all adopted individuals with the same basic human rights as other citizens, as well as to promote better mental health for all parties to the adoption.