May 16th, 2008
Posted By:
Categories: Adoption Reform

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.


But it still sits weird with me. The reasoning, of course, is said simply and best by the blogger at Without a Tribe in this recent post on the matter.

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.

Photo Credit.

3 Responses to “Opening Records and Opposing Arguments”

  1. kirstenleigh says:

    Hi, a friend of mine will be bringing her adopted son (three years old)home any day now. Myself and fellow friends/co-workers would like to have a shower for her. We are not sure what is most needed for new families and children. Also, how much time is it best to give her family to adjust to the newness of it all? Any ideas, suggestions would be very very appreciated!!! Thank you!

  2. gershom says:

    Thanks for speaking out about the group who DOESN’T get treated as equal, the group who’s identity isn’t recognized as important by the law.

    I cannot wait for the day that adoptees are treated as equal citizens through-out the world.

    When we all can walk into our vital records office and order a copy of our original, unaltered birth certificate for the same fee that everyone else pays.

    The last time I tried to get my OBC(original birth certificate), she leaned over to me and whispered “are you adopted?” shortly after explaining to her that I knew my mother and father and was in reunion with them, she walked to the back and disappeared. Up came her supervisor who told me my records were sealed for my own protection and she called quickly for the next person in line not even giving me a chance to speak.

    I felt like I didn’t exist. I felt so dismissed, and so violated.

    Thank you for speaking out for all of us who have our identities held hostage by the state.

  3. cathycam says:

    Gershom, that’s unbelievable. I sometimes can’t believe the audacity of our government. sealed for “your own protection”? Right.

    When I asked about why OBC’s weren’t available to adoptees like they were to everyone else, I got told, “Well, if birth mothers knew the children they placed could go and find them just like that, less would be willing to place.”

    First of all, I believe that’s complete crap. Secondly, why is everyone so against parents raising their own children? Why is it a bad thing that less women would choose adoption?

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