I was happy to see a news story out of Canada. Seems that some adoptees are going to be allowed to access their original birth records and, as such, find out the identities of their birth parents. I was really gearing to jump up and down as I started reading.
Ontario’s new law will help adoptees find out what their original names were, as well as who their birth parents were. It could also help birth parents learn the name their child was given after he or she was adopted.
I was nodding my head, thinking of the way that various forms of government are finally starting to treat adoptees the same as other citizens by allowing them to have this access. Then I kept on reading. Aw, shucks. It has a veto option. Some are in favor of the veto option, claiming that birth parents (and, vice versa) adoptees should be able to decline contact without actually having to face (via phone, mail or an actual face-to-face meeting) the other party. Part of me wants to agree that’s a fine idea. I’m all for choice in this world. I am. Choice is great.
Normally I would be all for this. But this bill, has a veto. That means that one small percentage of the people we’re all thinking about ‘above’ get left out. Those who have a veto filed against them. The “rejected twice” group. First time callers, second time rejection.
And there’s the rub that I couldn’t put into my own words. Add in the fact that I believe it is a birth parent’s responsibility to inform the children that they have relinquished of any and all health issues and the issue takes on a whole new set of arguments. I know we should rejoice, of course, when any adoptee gains access to this information. But my heart still breaks for those who are, as quoted, are going to be rejected for a second time.
Of course, as I was doing a little searching this morning, I found a related post coming out of the state of Illinois. The wording about “family secrets” makes me want to laugh and scream at the same time. If you’ve ever told a secret, as a child or an adult, you know that secrets have a way of outing themselves whether laws interfere or not. But, really? My favorite part of the post is this little gem:
Adoptive parents, at the very least, should have the circumstances surrounding their child’s records be allowed to be kept as private as those circumstances surrounding the premeditated death of an unborn innocent.
So, are we protecting birth families “secrets,” adoptees from big-bad birth parents or… adoptive parents?
I will stand firm in my belief that records need to be opened, without restriction, and that birth parents need to step to the plate and be held accountable to their children for, at the very least, their health history. I know not every reunion is going to be a happy-go-lucky Hallmark moment but I will never stop believing that first parents have a responsibility to their relinquished children.
For more on adoption reform, read these posts.