Remember when I told you that Costco was going to cover the issue of adoptee rights in its November issue, and why?
National Adoption Awareness Month is upon us and November’s issue of The Costco Connection is hitting member mailboxes this week — but anyone can read the article online. It’s a veritable #flipthescript boost that gets people to consider the viewpoints of adopted people.
Costco asks in its Informed Debate column Should it be mandatory to give adult adoptees full access to their birth records if they want it? It then introduces the competing rights of access to one’s personal records (the adoptee’s) and expectation of privacy (the birth parent’s).
April Dinwoodie, CEO of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, states the case for restoring this civil right to all citizens. She cites research that shows open records do not threaten the integrity of adoptive families and that the vast majority of first parents do not wish to remain anonymous.
Megan Lestino, Director of Public Policy for the National Council for Adoption, says instead that a mutual consent registry honors the expectation of privacy, and advocates for an intermediary to protect and honor the wishes of both parties.
Informed Debate suggests you search for three articles that offer background. I did so and have links for you.
Should adoptees have access to birth parents or should birth parents’ anonymity be protected? A 2011 public radio interview with Adam Pertman (past CEO of Donaldson Adoption Institute) and James Goodness of the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, NJ.
The Open Adoption Debate: Balancing the Interests of Birth Parents and Adult Adoptees. This opens a 10 year-old scholarly article by then-JD candidate Caroline B Fleming in the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. Fleming offers a comprehensive history of adoption and the movement to seal records, which began in Minnesota in 1917. The article tells about various strategies states use to manage competing rights.
The author’s conclusion — The decision to open adoption records rightly belongs with the adoptee — and subsequent muddification cause me to refer you to this this recent comment. Readers have pointed out that opening birth records doesn’t necessarily equate to making contact with, much less stalking, birth parents. In fact as Adam Pertman says toward the end of the interview above, lack of access to birth records can actually drive adoptees to make contact with their birth parents since they can’t legitimately access their vital records.
Risks and Benefits of Open Adoption. This 1993 (!) article by Marianne Berry, PhD in Princeton’s The Future of Children presents research on the then-new state of open adoption and mentions open records only twice — and positively. Berry says in her conclusion, “Because empirical evidence about the long-term effects of open adoption is scarce, adoption practitioners’ work is made more difficult.” That’s no longer the case.
Click here to take Costco’s Informed Debate survey soon, as viting results will be reported in the December issue. Or email your comments to the editor for possible inclusion. Make your voice heard and flip that script.