Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Adoption rights

I was part of a lively debate on Facebook regarding the rights of adoptees.  The debate was friendly and many interesting points were brought up.  This is definitely an issue genealogists should be watching.

The conversation started with the news article, “Unsealed Birth Records Give Adoptees Peek at Past.”  There are 11 states with open adoption records and there is a push for the other states to follow suit.  To condense the debate that took place on the public Facebook page and in private messaging, here are the points that were brought out.  I am posting all the points.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of them.

  • Adoptees have the right to know their medical history and their familiar ties.
  • Just because an adoptee gets the information contained in their file doesn’t mean they have to contact the birth parents.
  • Just because an adoptee gets the information contained in the their file doesn’t mean the birth parents have to allow contact from the adoptee.
  • Birth parents have the right to the privacy they were guaranteed at the time of the adoption. 
  • If birth parents can’t count on their privacy being protected, more mothers will opt for abortion over adoption in which case everyone loses.
  • Some birth parents were not given the option of an open adoption and these birth parents want the records opened as much as the adoptees do.
  • A compromise would be that the adoptee would have access to his/her birth parents’ identities when both birth parents are dead.
  • A compromise would be that the adoptee would have access to his/her birth parents’ identities if the file is flagged that the birth parents wish to be identified/contacted.
  • Forcing a birth parent into the public eye will also affect that persons parents, spouse and children who may not have ever known that their loved one had given up a child for adoption.

Another interesting point was brought up.  What about all of the adoptees out there that have no idea that they are adopted.  Will they also draft a new law requiring that adoptees be told?  This was not an uncommon situation in the 1950s-1970s when military families were adopting overseas and then bringing the babies back home.  They could easily pass the baby off as their own and no one stateside would be any wiser.

You can see that this is a very complex issue that is going to get even more complicated now that DNA testing is becoming popular and more affordable.  This is one of the reasons it will affect genealogists because genealogists are getting their DNA tested as much adoptees are.  Adoptees are also turning to professional genealogists to help them in their quest to find their birth families which may put the progen in an ethical bind.  I will be watching this to see how it all plays out.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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