Costco announced on Facebook a few weeks ago that it was seeking commentary for its Informed Debate column in its monthly magazine, The Costco Connection. It asked, “Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it?”
The post generated more than 2300 comments, some which may be featured in the November issue. Scanning through, I noticed some folks wondering why Costco would tackle the issue, since Costco is not an adopted person. Some asserted that coverage by a store that sells megapacks of toilet paper trivializes the issue of civil rights for adoptees. Some even guessed (tongue-in-cheekily?) that the announcement meant Costco would soon be selling discount babies.
I, for one, am thrilled Costco decided to cover the issue. And I may have an idea why it did.
Two years ago as I was reading an Informed Debate column on some contentious topic (legalization of marijuana? universal health care?) and had the crazy idea that the issue of equal access to birth certificates for all citizens would fit well in this forum.
I looked up the magazine and found out something surprising. Do you know that The Costco Connection ranks #1 of all print monthlies in circulation? It reaches 8.6 million households in the US, with millions more in other countries.
I hatched a plan. I wrote to the Informed Debate editor (Claudia can vouch for me; I cc’ed her) and? —— heard nothing. I followed up and again, nothing.
Eventually a new editor took over the magazine and I wrote a third time late last year.
December 28, 2014
Dear Informed Debate Editor:
In 2014, Ohio, New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania became the latest states to tackle the issue of birth parent privacy vs adoptee access to birth records. To date there have been 12 states make a move toward openness in adoption records (Huffington Post).
For the last several decades, there have been competing interests between the presumed right to privacy for birth mothers (less so for birth fathers) who place a child for adoption, and the right for all citizens to have access one’s personal and accurate birth records. The tension between those two interests has led to a hodge-podge of laws in many states. (Here is a composite listing of the status of all 50 states).
On the side of birth parent privacy, you’ll find, for example:
- The National Council for Adoption (NCFA)
- Right to Life organizations
- The Gladney Center for Adoption
On the side of equal access, you’ll find:
- Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, birth mom in reunion with her son, who advocates for adoptee rights and disputes the notion that all birth mothers want to hide from the children they bore (very few do, in fact).
- Adam Pertman, formerly President of The Donaldson Adoption Institute [April Dinwoodie is now the CEO].
- Me, an adoptive mom and author of the book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole. My children are part of a class whose rights are not fully recognized by my government.
There are an estimated 7 million adoptees in the United States, and many more who are affected by this issue — surely many of them Costco members like me. In fact, it seems like just about everyone has some sort of connection to adoption.
Don’t you think the right-to-privacy vs the right-to-access of original birth records issue would make a thought-provoking discussion in an upcoming edition of The Costco Connection? (Tip: November is National Adoption Awareness Month).
I urge you to consider shining light on this important issue, and I am happy to help put you in touch with experts in the field.
Perhaps my letter made a difference; perhaps the idea came from elsewhere. Either way, it’s good news for those pushing this latest wave of equal rights to have this issue brought to the forefront, especially during National Adoption Awareness Month.
The online version of November’s Costco Connection will be available near the end of October. The print magazine will arrive in mailboxes of Costco members beginning November 1. At that time the discussion will heat up again. Be heard.
Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.