In Support of Open Records for Adult Adoptees & Open Adoption

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.

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  • Gretagleen

    I was partially adopted – father unknown to me – My mother and I were shunned for religious reasons and mom had no info to track the family later when I wanted to know about my medical history and perhaps meet father. We hired investigators many times to track things, but have struggled to track him down. No social security trail for many many years. Perhaps insane, dead, fled country….no clue. personally I don’t really want to meet him because I only have a blood tie, but a desperately want to know his families life and medical history. I don’t think meeting people needs to be a requirement at all. I consider the contact with my birth father a measure of home stability growing up. I needed security and a sense of home – not link to blood relatives and I had that.

    That being said, my close friend just learned she had an older sister that he mother secretly adopted out as a teen because this girl tracked her biological mother down. It was sad for them to learn that the US catholic adoption agency lied to get this baby adopted. They told the adoptive parents that the mother was taken care of in a home with nuns. The truth is the mother was a teen who signed papers and the agency was present at the birth and she was not allowed to see or touch the baby and all contact was signed over. I think pregnant mothers need to be able to verify that lies are not being told to drive up the price of infants/mother who actually received no care or consultation about other options. Another confounding issue was that the biological mother once she decided she had not rights she married and kept it all a secret. This adoptive kid showing up lead to divorce of my friends parents…..so secrecy CAN’T be promised more and more and it should be illegal to bribe teens into giving up kids to hide their circumstances, as is done! 

  • Gretagleen

    I mistyped below. I am VERY happy to have had a closed adoption (if mine counts – zero contact, some verified info). Two photos of my father, race, his number of siblings, and his parents age of death were shared  with me when I was 10. The talk was frightening because I worried they would not live me as much as their blood kids. I wanted to be a full child of the parents who raised me and I would not have believed that my birth father, loved me equally if they had contact. Thier stated lack of contact gave me GREAT comfort – these are 10yr old thoughts. After I learned about my birth father, I worried he might abduct me (NEVER told anyone – but there are kid fears). 

    Then I learned many friends were also adopted (adoptive parents love to link up!), so I dealt with a few open adoption dramas second hand. Some kids learned their poor parents were drug addicts and criminalized. They excused their bad behavior as cool or their genetic right secretly among peers (sometimes parents learned too) My close girlfriend met her birth mother at 18 and learned she was a poor, racist, alcoholic, who keep her other kids. Her adoptive family worked for years trying to restore my friend’s confidence and insure their lifetime commitment…it continues to be really really tough. Standards for disclosure in these situations nee to be drawn up. Other adopted friends dealt with money requests from birth parents once they became adults (never heard of adoptive parents getting this request in open adoptions, figure they are court protected). One friend was sad that her birth mother later had a healthy secure family, without her and still doesn’t like to think about it – but her adoption made that happen for sure! Unfortunately I only know one instances where the open relationships was great (friend found more in common with birth parents and four total parents all worked great together despite huge challenges). I think personal contact should only be child initiated and guided by certified FREE counselors, and ALL birth parents must BE REQUIRED INTERNATIONALLY to sign a paper understanding that their kid may or MAY NOT elect to contact them later in life, but it is their contractual DUTY to respond with at least up to date medical records and summary of family history, reasons they chose adoption, and affirmation that parents received zero cash for baby at the time of adoption when contact is made-  a complete with DNA sequence should be made when given up and again when kid initiates contact later to help discourage falsehood and give parties security (not full proof plan, but should not be cost prohibitive with recent tech. Today adoption is not so taboo and I hope this trend continues until people REALLY BELIEVE nurture is the key to transforming people. The only adopted kids who struggled extremely (10-20 years) lived without a secure family unit for long periods as a youth. This include kids living in long periods in foster care and orphanges, whose parents refusing to give up custody. I am so angry for them. I know kids living with extended family members (including my uncle!) who would have dome anything to be adopted by the foster system provides health benefits that the foster parents could not afford. I think foster kids must be adopted immediately if birth parents get 5-25year in jail (extended family steps up or another family). When I read about disaster zones speeding up adoption I am actually overjoyed. I have worked overseas and with kids who had living parents in the country who could not afford to school them, so they “temporarily housed (10+years)” them in city orphanages for free schooling and health benefits. Most of these kids needed family presence. A few nuns an volunteers are NOT stability even in the best of places. This international funding loophole needs closed and donors MUST send to fund rural schools, not sad system. I really believe that if parents decided they can’t afford to care for kid they should NOT be judged or pushed into keeping the kids EVER. Enough is enough, the kids should not have to pay for parental lack of planning. BUT more importantly POOR people globally should be able to adopt if they can get government security benefits to make up for low salaries.There is not reason a poor person with a single extra room can’t have more than two kids in that room (rule in US  that rules me out presently). As long as people lord over land, this can’t be a stipulation if the kid is happy in placement. Most people know how to be frugal and space rules could be 50sqt or something that allows primative style housing world wide.  Again I say this because I am very close to the issue. Mother worked as a mental health profession at a great orphanage. Her step grandfather grew up in foster care and was never adopted. I have close 20 adopted friends. I propose birth parents are given up to 2 years to make a decision adoption, but temporary custody should be awarded to adoptive parents day one, unless both parent sign early with DNA match certification. Adoptions should be closed for 3 years and until then further unless child requests information or contact. DNA must be required of primary family members worldwide and for this rapid adoption at time of release and recontact with fees paid by adoptive family or child, unless both parties agree to forgo this stipulation. 

  • http://www.adoptionhelp.org/ Independent Adoption Center

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We appreciate that you have a passion for adoption issues, even if we may not always agree on the best course of action. More people working towards the best possible outcomes for children is a good thing.

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