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costco adoptee rights

Costco Shines Spotlight on Adoptee Rights

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?”

costco adoptee rights

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:

On the side of equal access, you’ll find:

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.

Lori Holden


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.

Costco store image: Bidgee [CC BY-SA 3.0 au], via Wikimedia Commons

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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19 Responses

  1. I have no doubt that your letter was important. It might have been one of a few or even many but I agree that the Costco magazine is the perfect place for such a discussion. Good for you, Lori!

  2. I shop at Costco all the time, had no idea they had a magazine. Who reads this? Good for them for featuring adoptee rights, glad it got in. My impression from people I know is that most of the general public favor adoptee rights, and many have no idea that adoptees cannot easily get their original birth certificate every where.

  3. I’m guessing your letter was definitely the impetus for this article! Way to go as always Lori. I think Costco Magazine is a great place for this discussion. Why not? It will reach those connected to and by adoption and others as well. Let’s get everyone talking about this. It’s time to broaden our reach! Everyone has the right to know where they came from! Everyone has the right to their original birth certificate and information.

  4. As they say, it never hurts to ask, and even if your letter wasn’t what got the ball rolling with Costco, it may have been the tipping point. either way, I’m sure it helped. And it’s a great conversation, too, with no clear answers because it’s one person’s right to know, versus one person’s right to be left alone and move past a traumatic series of events. In short, both sides have points (though I do tend to side with the adoptees).

    1. Both groups of people – adoptees and original parents – still have their right to be left alone intact. Issuing one group a copy of their true birth certificate doesn’t change their right to be left alone.

      Everyone can still exercise their right to be left alone and face consequences if they harass or stalk, just like everyone else who harasses or stalks, AFTER they have harassed or stalked, despite being told not to. First parents who wish to be left alone can do as everyone else does, inform the person to not try to contact them again. I can request that you, Anne Louise, not try to contact me again. I don’t need to have the laws changed so that I will be protected in case you MIGHT think of attempting to contact me even once. Why should first parents be able to do that, and why should we support first parents from being able to do that, especially when MOST of them don’t care about contact or even would WELCOME contact or a relationship with their long lost offspring?

  5. Oh so happy you decided to write this to Costco. This is a great place to publish our hope to receive our original birth certificates.
    This will reach many people who have no idea about this struggle we’ve been thru. I have talked to people and realized unless you are adopted or know someone who has been part of this struggle, people don’t know or understand our feelings. These are old-fashioned ideas that closed records protect the privacy of those who gave us up for adoption. This is a new age, an online age. We have access to records and information on the internet. We can find people without that simple piece of paper. So privacy is a thing of the past. There are search groups who can find anyone in a very short time. I went with a service that found out my birth family within 24 hours. But the one thing adoptees cannot get in many states is our ORIGINAL birth certificate, that simple piece of paper that everyone else in the USA can obtain and probably never give it a second thought. They take it for granted that that is their property, their heritage but we are denied this RIGHT!
    We aren’t out to disrupt lives, to find a family (we have our families), to hurt anyone. We just want what is rightfully ours, our RIGHT. Thank you, Lori, for thinking of this idea and acting on it. Adoptees everywhere applaud you! Dianne Magnusson

    1. My pleasure Dianne. I’m really eager to see the article, who Costco gets to speak for and against the issue, and what the public’s reaction to it is. I’m hoping for lots of forward momentum to finally tear down all the walls between adoptees and their original birth records.

  6. This is what it takes… EACH PERSON TALKING ABOUT THIS ISSUE AND MAKING NOISE! We can change each state one at a time. Here in Texas we were blocked by ONE senator. 24 senators were ready to restore access. Hb984 had passed the house! Senator DR. DONNA CAMPBELL the adoptive mother of a minor child begged lt governor to ot bring the bill to the floor and pulled it from the calendar to be passed into law. She said restoring access would DESTROY families. We have one more session to get thru before she is up for reelection in 2018. SENATOR CAMPBELL refuses to meet with constituents on the issue or reporters.

  7. I couldn’t believe what I saw last month plastered all over Facebook about Costco is having an article about Adoptees original Birth Certicates . I had to make the call to Head Quarters because all my brother & sister ( Adoptees ) were going crazy… Writing in, such as myself . I was very relieved to find this was actually true. I want to thank all of you from the deepest roots of my soul for Supporting all 7 million of us out there .
    I sent my story in about my birth mother finding me because she had breast cancer & now she is 66 with stage. 4 ovarian cancer.
    I’m on the board with Missouriadopteerightsmovement I’m also the PR I’m the one that gets out in the public eye to educate.
    We will be back in session (Jefferson City , Mo ) beginning in January 2016 . Our Sponsor is Don Phillips , he is the State Rep for Kingdom City ,Mo. He is also Adopted . We would be honored for Costco to participate & Support Our upcoming Bill to All Adoptees to have access to their Original Birth Certificates .
    Thank you again … Let’s change History Together!!!!! Amen.

    1. So great that you called Costco HQ so that they know how deeply this issue affects so many.

      I’ll be cheering for MO, as will so many others.

      Sending healing thoughts to you and your birth mom.

  8. I think this is great, Lori. You can’t buy publicity like this. I don’t understand the naysayer on another blog. The comments truly reveal that people are getting informed.

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