Adopting Open Records

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Another round in the debate over open records and adoption kicked off yesterday. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute came out with a report that says adult adoptees should be able to get their birth records, and information on their birth mothers. Right now in most states, that's not an easy thing to do. While many adoptees try to contact their birth parents for personal and medical reasons, only a handful of states allow adults who were adopted to see their original birth certificates. And there are plenty of people who say that's with good reason. In an unlikely mix of groups, the ACLU, some Catholic organizations, and the National Council for Adoption have all come out against the idea of open records, often for very different reasons. Some cite privacy concerns, and the promise to birth mothers that they would be protected. Others argue that opening records would scare some women away from adoption, and could increase the number of abortions. Whichever side you're on, we want to hear your stories today. If you're adopted, did you access... or try to access... your birth records? Or if you're an adoptive parent or a mother who gave up a child for adoption, what's your experience with this?

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YES, by all means, PLEASE give me access to my medical history!! I don't really need the people who didn't need me nearly 40 years ago, as I have a marvelous family who has provided me with love, values, and support of every kind. Although, if I were permitted to say anything to my 'bio-donors' (I can't call them parents, they never gave hugs or band-aids or words of encouragement/discipline), I would love to say 'thank you' for having the strength to give me up way back then. I imagine it was very difficult.

In the meantime, one week ago today I had a lumpectomy. We had to operate based on how the tumor was feeling and because I have no family medical history. The tumor was benign, phew! It was still scary, and would have been regardless of knowing my family history. But I need to know what genetic time bombs are potentially ticking away in me.

Sent by Rebecca, born in Montana living in Cleveland | 3:10 PM | 11-13-2007

Adults should absolutely be given access to their (own!!!) medical records. While I understand that some parents who have given up a child or children might not want to be contacted, giving up a child for adoption is not without consequences. If a child contacts a parent, the parent has the right to refuse that contact. No person should ever be legally denied the right to their own medical history.

Sent by Amber Fraley | 3:11 PM | 11-13-2007

There is no such thing as mother confidentiality. Think about it. If a woman relinquishes a child, the only promise the state makes to her is that she will have no future financial or legal obligation to that child. At the point of relinquishment, the original birth certificate is not sealed. So, if that child does not get adopted (remains in foster care) h/she will always have the original birth certificate with the mother's name on it. The OBC is not sealed until the adoption is finalized. Therefore, unless the state promises all mother's that their children will be adopted, they cannot possibly promise confidentiality. Beyond that, why would a person who has relinquished all legal ties suddenly have a voice in whether or not an adult is able to access a birth certificate. The issue of equal access is between the adoptee and the state and no one else.

Sent by Janet Allen | 3:11 PM | 11-13-2007

While I respect the privacy rights of my birth mother, I respect my rights to medical and cultural information more. My entire life has been filled with "N/A" written under Family Medical History. Now that I have my own daughter, [and have had hereditary health issues] I feel that I am at least owed my medical history.

Sent by Amy @ TasteLikeCrazy.com | 3:11 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adopted mother of 2 children ( & 10 years old). I have two comments. One, I would like for the language of adoption to change from "giving up" for adoption to "placing for adoption". My children have an open adoption so I have the surnames of their birth parents. When they are older 16-18 years old I will help them locate their birthparents. There is no right or wrong which is best for all parties.

Sent by debra austin | 3:17 PM | 11-13-2007

I respectfully disagree with Rebecca and Amber. I am a 40-something man who was adopted by a wonderful, loving family when I was an infant. My parents are my parents - period! I am thankful for the circumstances of my adoption and especially thankful that I was not aborted. If there is even the smallest chance that opening adoption records could result in any additional abortions or visit sadness upon the life of even one birth mother then I believe the potential benefits are not worth the risks of opening these private records.

Sent by Stephen | 3:20 PM | 11-13-2007

I spent my CHILDHOOD PROTECTING my adoptive mother from my curiosity. I was told I was cruel to ask for information about my Self and the other family that "gave" me away. (And that's a whole OTHER issue!) But I was a CHILD. Who PROTECTED ME?? Not my adoptive parents. Nor the social workers. I'm not even allowed BY LAW, to know what time of day I was born.

Now you're asking me to "protect" another adult? My birth mother is an adult now. If she has problems with dealing with the TRUTH, that is her problem. When will it be MY time to be given the TRUTH of my life?

FYI, I have been reunited with my birth family for 10 years. The reunion was the most healing, positive experience of my life.

Sent by Amy | 3:21 PM | 11-13-2007

As an adoptee, I understand their reasons for wanting their privacy but how can you deny one who was put up for adoption access to the information that tells them where they came from (their heritage) and medical information. I do think that you need to be a certain age in order to gain access to that information. Most adoptees don't go looking for our birth parents to create problems, we just want some closure. I had struggeled with finding my birth mother for years. I felt like part of me was missing. I finally decided that I needed to do it and had to go through a PI to get access to information. Long story short, she was located but no one knew about me so she didn't want any real contact, which I am okay with. I would however like to know their names so that I can research my heritage, etc. I would never want to cause trouble for either one. She had her reasons for choosing the adoption route and I am so appreciative of her selflessness. It would just be nice to have some answers and to be able to update that information once in a while.

Sent by Nancy Hall | 3:22 PM | 11-13-2007

My mother was adopted in Ontario, Canada, which is where I grew up. It wasn't until after I had children of my own that I became interested in knowing who my birth grandparents were/are. My mother does not know who her mother was but knows who her father was. He died of liver cancer not too long ago. I cannot ask her about her birth parents because the memories she does have are very negative and too painful. I have researched adoption in Ontario and found out on my own that I have no rights as a granddaughter to find out who my grandmother was. I don't necessarily need to befriend her but I would like to know if I look like her, act like her or whether there are any medical issues on her side of the family that I might pass along to my little ones.

Sent by Heather | 3:23 PM | 11-13-2007

I think medical records are important, but am strongly opposed to opening up records for parents who thought they would be private - whether they were informed incorrectly or not at the time of the adoption. Yes, you change tremendously from 17, but the circumstances under which the decision was made are probably just as traumatic now as they were at time. I do think this is more of "shaming the unwed mother".

Sent by Lisa | 3:25 PM | 11-13-2007

I am adopted and searched for information when I was 36. The New Jersey adoption agency gave me information about my birth mother only because she had requested that her information be available to me. They could not release any information about my father since he never gave his consent. Mutual consent is the only reasonable solution. The challenge faced by all adopted children is to find their own identity without knowledge of who their birth parents are. This is what it means to be an adopted child. I have found this to be difficult and liberating in equal measure.

Sent by Karin Stanley | 3:25 PM | 11-13-2007

As the mother of two young adults who were adopted from Korea as infants, I understand well the yearning to find birth parents. My children know they can contact the adoption agency we worked with and find out if their birth mothers have given permission for them to find out their birth history. Neither has yet followed up, but just knowing the link is there is immensely comforting. Would a similar system work for U.S. adoptions, where birth mothers who are agreeable to having their records de-classified could notify the state of their wishes? This could help all sides, and provide opportunities for birth mothers who 40 years later also are interested in learning about their children.

Sent by Janelle | 3:27 PM | 11-13-2007

I'm an adult who was adopted many years ago. I have also worked in the area of adoption as a social worker for a public agency for over 20 years. I never wanted to search for my biological parents -- I always felt that I knew who my parents were. However, now many children are adopted later in life and do know that they have birth parents and adopted parents, and remember their birth parents. I think this is a very complex issue, and that someone who does a study does not have the comprehensive answer for those personally involved. I personally do not want to be contacted by my birth family, but believe that today a spirit of more openness if often called for to resolve many complex physical and psychological problems.

Sent by Mona Prater | 3:28 PM | 11-13-2007

I grew up in a fundamentalist family who stressed, in those family discussions around the dinner table, that unmarried mothers needed to be made to face up to their sin(s). I strongly suspect that, intentionally or unintentionally, making birth records open would be one small way to further this kind of agenda.

Sent by Paul | 3:29 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a birth mother who gave up my son for adoption on February 18, 1968 in Terre Haute, Indiana. I had no choice but to relinquish my identity in making this decision. The social worker made it clear that I could never know anything about him and he would know nothing about me. At the time that was the only option. I have never been ashamed of the choice I made, even though there was a huge stigma at the time. I have never hidden it from anyone and would welcome my son to find me so he could know about his heritage. I have no desire to impose myself upon my son; however, if he desires to know, I am here and clear that I'm not the woman who raised him. I truly honor the adoptive parents who raised my son.

Sent by Cathy Bunch (Name at the time of my son's adoption) Kathryn Spak, Cincinnati, Ohio | 3:29 PM | 11-13-2007

As an adult adoptee who was always aware of the fact that I was adopted, and whose adoptive parents were loving, wonderful people, I simply believe more strongly with each passing year that I am being denied my RIGHT to know who I am. Everyone deserves to know the truth of their origins. My children and grandchildren are being denied their true heritage as well. Opening original birth records is a matter of adoptees' civil rights. We freed slaves, praise multiculturalism, and seek to honor the right of all to uphold their heritage and traditions, but we ignore the fact that we are enslaving adoptees to ignorance of their true identity, family history, and national heritage, and we are condemning their children and grandchildren to the same darkness. Which is more important? To keep hidden a birth parent's identity or to give an innocent adoptee and his or her children and grandchildren the truth of their identities?

Sent by Dottie Thomas | 3:29 PM | 11-13-2007

I gave up my child in 1968. In 1998 that child tried to contact me through the adoption agency. I absolutely refused and hope that person never tries to contact me again. If they want to open the birth records, that should be a choice a mother can make now and forward. I do not want something that would retroactively open all of these records. In 1968 I had no choice but to have this child because abortion was illegal. I don't think I have anything in common with this child whatsoever.

Sent by Teresa, Keizer,Oregon | 3:30 PM | 11-13-2007

Secrecy and closed records are not what factor into abortion vs. adoption decisions. Mothers who relinquish and adoptees aren't protected by keeping these documents sealed. Getting one's OWN birth certificate is a civil liberties issue. Having the right to know who one's parents are, if only to know their name, if only to have the knowledge, is a basic human right. The real crime in the closed records era of adoption was the way my birth mother was treated by social workers and society while she was a pregnant teen in the 60's. Having the right to your own information, your story is the real issue here. The laws 'protect' me from information that is rightfully mine.

Sent by Tina Michalik | 3:31 PM | 11-13-2007

Stephen: While I respect your right as an adoptee to speak your mind, we're not discussing abortion. We're talking about the right of every person to know his or her medical history. If you were to suddenly develop some mysterious illness for example, it might be helpful to your doctor(s) know what genetic diseases/conditions exist in your family. That's a basic right. As to the abortion question: had I been aborted, I don't think I'd know the difference.

Sent by Amber Fraley | 3:31 PM | 11-13-2007

Yes, I want my medical history! It would also be nice to have some idea of my heritage, but if my bio mother wants to stay hidden, fine. The anti-open records people all seem to rely on the same old tactics of finding a handful of scary situations and using them to block everything - medieval logic. We can learn so much more now from family medical history.
Mr. Atwood as an adoptive father CANNOT speak from all points of view. He knows his roots and family past - WE DON'T!

Sent by Ron Denton | 3:31 PM | 11-13-2007

Adoption is couched in the fear of what ifs? There is no evidence that suggests that if adoption is opened up abortions will increase. What would most likely result is the opposite, abortions would decrease.

Sent by Steve | 3:32 PM | 11-13-2007

They aren't talking about making birth parents meet the children they've given up. It's getting access to their original birth certificates. They should be able to see documents that concern them. It's not like a young adult is being forced to spend time with a 5-year-old they gave up: it's about an adult who was adopted and, like everyone else, wants to know more about themselves.

Sent by Terry | 3:32 PM | 11-13-2007

Women with unwanted pregnancies have 2 choices: to abort, or to bring the baby to term and place him/her up for adoption. We should make the process of adoption as easy, and non-threatening as we can possibly do. As an internist, I have these conversations with young women, and I can tell you that the fear of being contacted by an "unwanted child" is a great one, and may deter women from maintaining their pregnancies. Women should have the choice.

Sent by erika boroff | 3:32 PM | 11-13-2007

I have three adopted sons who came to me through the foster care system after being abused/neglected by their birth families. Even though they know their past has difficult things in it, and they have memories of the abuse, it has been important to them to have access to information and to have the option of looking for birth parents if their birth parents agree. One of them has found birth mother and grandmother and has chosen to relate only to the grandmother. The other two have not yet had opportunity to find more information. Of course I have fears about how more information will affect them, but I also know that strength often comes from dealing with the truth. Our adoption lawyer made copies of the original birth certificates and gave us those copies. He was also an adoptive father and believed it was important.

Sent by Bev | 3:33 PM | 11-13-2007

It seems to me that this is asking for opening access to the records, not to the people. The people who want to hide from their past have adequate remedies in the law to prevent inappropriate contact. Get over it and open the records for the "good of the many" which outweighs the good of the few or the one.

Sent by Kevin S. Gareau | 3:33 PM | 11-13-2007

As an adopted child (who is now in her 30's) with chronic health problems, I would love to have updated medical information about my biological sources. I have always known I was adopted, and have no real need to meet anyone or forge new relationships. But I would love to be able to fill in the gaps in my medical history. In the 1970's, when I was born, no one really understood the role genetics play in our health. I'm assuming that in current adoptions, there is a lot more medical information given to the adoption agency, given our expanded knowledge of how genetics factor in our medical health. But those risk factors were largely unknown until fairly recently. What risks do I have? What should I screen for? If the adoption agencies do not want records released, maybe they could pay for these screenings...

Sent by Kalen | 3:34 PM | 11-13-2007

While this really is a civil rights issues and being an adoptee I personally have a hard time understanding why we are treated differently then everyone else in America I would also like to say that I found my natural family and have a wonderful relationship with everyone. My father never even knew of my existence. He was never told by anyone including the agency even though they had his name. He welcomed me with open arms and expressed the depth of his sadness at never even being offered the chance to raise me through many tears. I'm sure there are other men like him out there that were denied knowledge of their offspring and never gave their consent to relinquishments. How sad that they are still denied the right to meet their adult children.

Sent by dory | 3:34 PM | 11-13-2007

I have found that I have already lost two half siblings to diabetes and that it runs in my family through opening my records. This is extremely valuable information for myself and my son. I have wonderful adoptive parents who ARE my parents, but they could not give me this information - only open adoption could. My natural mother has died and had never registered

Sent by Rachel Green | 3:37 PM | 11-13-2007

I believe all adoptees should be provided a medical record when requested. I am adopted and have tried to get my OBC but have failed so far. I would like to know my medical history but I also understand that for adoptions in the past they should be confidential but if given permission then make them open. There may be many birth parents that would not mind releasing the info. It just shouldn't be so difficult to find out what info that we can and sometime costly of time and money.

Sent by Leah McMillen | 3:37 PM | 11-13-2007

My mother - birth mother - Cathy, from Hamburg, NY, called in to your program earlier. She then called ME to tell me about it, and we waited for the phone number to come up again, because I wanted to call in too. Mom gave me up for adoption at birth in 1967, and I found her in September 2005 - the month before my 38th birthday. I had a hard time getting any information at first, but then Texas opened their records to adoptees. I do believe that adoption records should be opened...... Since I've found my mother, I've gained a whole family of mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles - cousins, all of it - THE WORKS!!!

Sent by Kim Thompson from Louisiana (Cathy in Hamburg's daughter) | 3:38 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a Native American adoptee who would have never have found my culture without open records.

Sent by Rachel Green | 3:40 PM | 11-13-2007

I'm an adopted adult and I would like equal civil rights please. Records are sealed when the adoption is final, if the adoption does not become final the records are not sealed, so how does this support some mother's forever anonymity?

Sent by David | 3:40 PM | 11-13-2007

I have always admired women who were strong enough to look beyond themselves and allow their newborn baby to be adopted. It has to be a gut-wretching decision. The families I know who have benefited from this selflessness rejoice in the presence of their adopted children everyday. I support obtaining medical information but I do not feel the adoptee has the right to any other information.

Sent by Barbara | 3:40 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a birth mother who gave up her daughter in 1968. I was thrilled when she contacted me two years ago. Prior to that I did not feel I had a right to try to find her, disrupt her life, invade her privacy, etc. My birth daughter and I have become close friends and I treasure our relationship. I fully support an adoptee's right to have his/her adoption records if they wish. The decision whether or not to have contact should be left up to the individuals. It may or may not be a positive experience, but in our case it is.

Sent by Patricia Cannon | 3:41 PM | 11-13-2007

I was born in 1956 and at the age of 38 decided to search for my birth mother following a traumatic health situation. The information provided by the state of Florida was very vague and general in nature. However, it provided just enough info for me to locate my birth mother after searching for about a year. She was initially very unsettled and would have nothing to do with me. Her husband kindly wrote to me, giving me important family information. When I realized the door was closing, I took a huge step by contacting one of my half brothers. Then it all hit the fan! The ultimate result was the development of a close and loving relationship with my mother, (step)father and two half brothers. She told me several times how thankful she was that I found her. That was enough for me! However,due to the emotional toll this took on all of us, I wouldn't encourage anyone else to search without first trying to envision all of the possible end scenarios. You need to be realistic and prepared emotionally for any outcome.

Sent by Beth Lannen | 3:41 PM | 11-13-2007

I will be 56 tomorrow and have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my records unsealed since I was 25. I also have a medical condition which doctors have been trying to diagnose since I was 13. I still have no diagnosis. When I was born and adopted (in NY State), there were only a handful of medical conditions known to have genetic antecedents. Now there are thousands. My mother was 19 and healthy. I have no medical history whatsoever, and even though the court ordered, after my adoptive parents and I petitioned the court, that I be provided with (heavily redacted) medical records, they dealt only with my problems as a neonate adjusting to various formulas. This does not help me in my medical planning and care in my 50s. I have no desire to intrude on my birth family, but I am entitled to information about my own history, and the State of New York should not be permitted to keep my birth certificate from me. I also have constitutionally protected interests at stake, and I was not a party to the decisions made concerning my birth and adoption. When in the process did the "best interests of the child" get moved to the bottom of the heap, to be trumped by the presumed interests of my birth family (who well may be dead)?

Sent by Ann | 3:42 PM | 11-13-2007

There are 2 ways I would handle it if I had to give a child up for adoption. I would make sure any pertinent medical info was accessible but would use an alias. If this was not possible, then I would seriously consider either an abortion or leaving the baby on the doorstep of a church or agency. Yes I have had to make this decision and will not divulge my choice, but I am comfortable with it. Thank goodness I don't have to spend my life looking over my shoulder waiting for a reminder of a nightmare period in my life to come back to haunt more than it does. The situation was complicated, but always the best for a life was considered. If someone wants contact later in life, then let them decide to open the records - but don't force them into a situation they had already given up their rights too.

Sent by Linda | 3:43 PM | 11-13-2007

People are treating adoptees and those who place their children for adoption lack of knowledge of their natural parents as if it's the quintessential characteristic of a trauma disorder. Furthermore, Acquiring that confidential (not necessarily genetic information) knowledge is NOT a right. The first law of Buddhism is that life is suffering or life is incomplete (depending on the translation). Adoptees and those that placed their children for adoption should live with their sense of emptiness, accept uncertainty, get on with their lives, and leave this place better than we found it.

Sent by Gene Tinelli | 3:43 PM | 11-13-2007

I have a little different perspective. For 2 yrs. as a clinical psychologist, I did counseling and searches and reunions for adoptees and birthparents through a private adoption agency. The outcomes were as varied as the people themselves. The credibility of your speakers is effected by their polarization of the issues. Not all reunions have good outcomes. Not all adoptees want to search and many birth moms do not want to be found.

Sent by Bettye Jo Bell | 3:44 PM | 11-13-2007

Mr. Atwood is seriously mistaken on two critically important points. First. when he says he can "identify" with all aspects of adoption since he is an adoptive father, he could not be more wrong. The only people who identify and understand what it is like to be adopted are adoptees, he is insensitive and selfish to claim that he can identify with us. Second, he is in complete error when he states that states allow for a 'search and consent' regarding medical records. Some states may offer this, but it is not a universal procedure and he should know what he is saying before going on national broadcast. Open records will restore a basic human right that has been removed from those who have been adopted, something that we had no voice in.

Sent by Bonnie | 3:45 PM | 11-13-2007

Records access is about civil rights, not reunions, not medical histories, not psychological "issues." Why all this talk about everything else? All arguments for records access, must flow from the presumed right of all adults to unrestricted access and possession of their true birth certificates, not just a majority class, the non-adopted. Otherwise, the right of anyone to possess their own birth certificate is not a right but a favor the state grants to some; a proposition which we doubt courts or politicians want to consider. The real issue, therefore, moves from personal desire to political rights and adoptees' relation to the state. Who owns your identity: you or the state? Organizations such as the National Council for Adoption believe we are property of the state. If we don't own ourselves, then what do we own? It is nobody's business what we do with our birth certificates, but ours.

Sent by Marley Greiner | 3:46 PM | 11-13-2007

I grew up with my birth mother and adoptive father in a very loving home situation. The issue of the "missing" piece of my identity (ie. info on my birth father)was a very important question for me into my 30's... I disagree with the assertion made earlier in the show that this is not a big issue for adoptees.

Sent by Chris | 3:47 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a former president of the Phoenix based search and reunion support group Search Triad, and as an adoptee AND birth mother. My relationship with my birth daughter and her adoptive family is open and it is better that way. It was what I had chosen, but more importantly it is a relationship that the adoptive parents honor. After giving birth to her, I searched for and found my birth mother and half brother and sister. While I love my parents (the adoptive ones) they cannot fill the genetic void: that is not their role. NO amount of legislation can change that or force it. I chose to find them on my own rather than paying upwards of $400 for what I view is my RIGHT- MY records. NO MATTER what the birth parent chooses, the person who is born has their own choices and can choose to search, either 'legally' or 'illegally', either in a state mandated program or on their own. For too long adoption has been treated as a pathological and abnormal state. It is time this unique triad relationship be brought into openness. What is everyone afraid of? That the triad will have the same problems as everyone else? Of COURSE we do. Opening up records will facilitate greater 'normalcy' and support increased family ties, not sever them!

Sent by Wendy | 3:50 PM | 11-13-2007

Birth mothers need to deal with the painful issues surrounding their need for secrecy. Emotional growth cannot occur until we let go of negative feelings of shame.

Sent by Judith L. Wible, M.D. | 3:51 PM | 11-13-2007

Amber,

With all due respect, Theresa Keizer's comment supports the validity of my observation that adoption and abortion are inexorably linked. Adoption and abortion are the flip side of a woman's right to choose. It's interesting to observe that idea that we as human beings have a "right to our heritage" or a "right to our history" keeps coming up as an argument in this thread. I'm not aware of just where this "human right" comes from. Where is it written down? By the way, where can the orphaned children of war, natural disaster or neglect turn to secure their "right" to their heritage? Another interesting question for you: Does not knowing your medical history really impact your happiness? If you knew that you were genetically predisposed to cancer, MS, etc. would you be better off? What if you knew these things for certain and never became ill? What if you were the first and only member of your "genetic family" to succumb to some rare and incurable disease? For what it's worth, I personally consider my "clean" medical history to be a gift, not a curse. In any case, I remain profoundly thankful for my adoption.

Sent by Stephen | 3:51 PM | 11-13-2007

I surrendered my firstborn child and only daughter to adoption in 1960, as was expected of all "unwed mothers" at the time. Throughout my pregnancy, not once did anyone ask me how I would feel about the prospect of my child one day seeking contact with me. Why not? Because that concept wasn't even in the vocabulary of adoption brokers back then. Can you imagine this scenario? For months a pregnant woman was counseled by agency personnel to believe her relinquished child would be "exactly the same as if born to" the adoptive parents; that physical characteristics and family style would be matched so the child would feel "as if born to" these parents. It would be as if he/she had never had any other mother. The social worker further assures the mother that by some kind of selective amnesia, she will one day totally "forget" she had even given birth to this child -- the child did not, does not, would no longer exist in her mind. At relinquishment, the judge adds to these illusions by stating that in giving up all rights to this child, the child will be "as if dead" to the birth mother. Now, after all this, can anyone believe the judge would ask, "Oh, by the way, if your child should one day wish to contact you, for medical or other reasons, would you be willing to be identified to him/her? Can you see how preposterous this would have been? Get real! The only people being protected by sealed adoption records are the unscrupulous agencies that have many potentially embarrassing or even litigation-worthy skeletons in their closets.

Sent by Jo Anne Swanson | 3:52 PM | 11-13-2007

My father grew up with his birth mother (my grandmother) and adoptive father. His mother would not tell him who his birth father was. She would not tell him anything about his father... where he lived, how old he was, what he was like, what his interests were... nothing. I'm a genealogist and have found a name, but it is a common name and there are more than one in the area he may have been. My grandmother just plain did not understand my father's intentions in wanting to know more about his father... more about himself. If adoption records were open, he could have pursued the information himself and honored my grandmother's wishes by not bringing it up to her. By the time the adopted child becomes an adult, s/he should be mature enough, as should the birth parent, to understand whatever the circumstances of the pregnancy or environmental conditions were and appreciate the adoption. Adopted or not, no one should be denied information about their bloodline relatives.

Sent by Cathy | 3:52 PM | 11-13-2007

Anyone who is interested in this topic should read Ann Fessler's book published in 2006, THE GIRLS WHO WENT AWAY, The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades before Roe V Wade. Ms. Fessler, an adoptee herself, interviewed over 100 women who had given up their child under tremendous pressure from societal norms at that time and the entrenched double standard in which the women paid the ultimate price. The missing piece in this debate is how emotionally life-changing giving birth to another human being can be. Most of these women felt that giving birth, then having to surrender their child, had profound life-long consequences.

Sent by Ruth Anne Wall | 3:53 PM | 11-13-2007

As a mother who was coerced to surrender my first son sight unseen while still sedated after delivery in 1970 while his father was an Air Force pilot in Viet Nam, I support the right for adult adoptees to have their OBC. I have been reunited with my first son since Oct. 2005. He had searched for me earlier but had no luck even though he was born in Kansas which is one of the few states which allows adult adoptees their Original Birth Certificate. Of the 5-6 million mothers whose babies were legally kidnapped by adoption agencies in their greed to supply a demand for infants by prospective adopters during the baby scoop era after WWII and before Roe v. Wade, there have been so many original families whose relatives have been negatively impacted by unnecessary adoptions that providing an OBC to an adult adoptee at the very least is a civil right for all citizens. Families need to be kept together whenever possible and adoption should be the very last resort as UNICEF advocates.

Sent by Karen Lehner Dawber | 3:54 PM | 11-13-2007

Please stop treating adult adoptees like eternal children. We who want our birth certificates are ADULTS. The government needs to treat us as ADULTS. This is NOT primarily about contact/reunion -- this is about my right as an adult to have access to records about ME -- records which go to the heart of MY identity. Why does the government get to know this information while keeping it from me? This is a fundamentally unjust stituation that needs to change. That's why anecdotal examples of "good" and "bad" reunions are beside the point. Of course, some things turn out well and some don't. We are human beings and adults. We should have the right to access our own documents and to do whatever we want with them. We are not eternal children who need to be "protected" from what might happen should we find out about where we came from. Our birth parents are also adults. People work things out.

Sent by Nina Greeley | 3:55 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adult adoptee. I am happily reunited with all my birth family. I love them all dearly. Where is the justice in a government that denies this basic human right to people solely based upon the circumstance of their birth? Nobody had the so-called "right" to keep me from my birth family or them from me. I am a human being and I deserve to know my identity. I deserve to know who I am. I do now, no thanks to the government. I am a lucky one. Other adoptees are not as lucky. Each human being deserves equal rights and adoptees do not have equal rights. We adoptees hereby request that the United States of America live up to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution and restore to us us the rights we are owed.

Sent by Kevan Taylor-Perry | 3:57 PM | 11-13-2007

This may not be the correct place to mention it, but I was dismayed that the adoption program segment was cut short by fluff: an interview with a film director. Would love to have heard more about closed vs. mandatory open adoption.

Sent by Gwen Veazey | 3:57 PM | 11-13-2007

I found out I was adopted at the age of 41 after my adoptive parents had already died. I loved them just as much now as I did before I found out my birth status. I did work through the State to write a letter to mom for her approval, get her name and number, and develop a relationship with her over the last 7 years. While I am very fortunate to have found out my information and who I was, I am able to look in hind sight and see the system did not treat me the same as it would have had I not been an adopted person. Over the last 7 years since my discovery I have become familiar with many adopted adults who have not been as fortunate as I was in discovering their roots, and in many cases the effect has been devastating to them and to their families. Of the many adopted people and birth mothers I know that have reunited, I've yet to find one that has not respected the wishes of the other concerning confidentiality and level of the relationship desired. Please free our records.

Sent by Fred Nicora | 3:59 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adoptee who found and met my birthmother 6 years ago, at the age of 35. I completed my search, working around New York's closed adoption records system, and did so with the support of my adoptive family. My birthmother was grateful that I found her, certain that she had done the right thing in relinquishing me, but always wondering and worrying about what had become of me.

With that being said, this decades-long debate is complicated and highly emotional. Fueled by the secrecy dictated by society all those years ago, the laws were written in the name of "protecting" the virtue of birthmothers who got into "trouble" - their "illegitimate" children, and yes--even the infertile couples who adopted them.

The study is right:It is time to lift the shroud of secrecy, and to level the playing field. But, let's be clear: We adult adoptees who seek our roots and our medical histories are not waiting in the wings longing to "out" our birthparents. All who receive their original birth certificates will not search; and those who do search, should do so responsibly and respectfully, as adults.

Sent by Nancy | 3:59 PM | 11-13-2007

I strongly believe records should be open to adult adoptees. We need to have access to our medical history, as well as our heritage. It is a human need to know ones roots. As a member of a NY adoption support group, I have discovered that nearly ALL members of the adoption triad believe that as adults, the knowledge of ones birth records will be beneficial to ALL parites involved. Not knowing a part of ones identity is very complex. THere is no way to heal the open wound without opening records. I have recently been reunited with my biological family. It has been a positive experience for my own personal self discovery. It has been a positive experience for my biological family (giving them a sense of peace knowing that the life they created is okay). It has been a positive experience for my adoptive family to see me finally have my complete history including the 3 weeks before I was adopted. That is IMPORTANT. I hope that the day comes that the general public can better understand the real need for open records. My children and I now have a much more complete medical background to offer our doctors, and a much more complete picture of who we are in the world.

Sent by Amy | 4:01 PM | 11-13-2007

Sorry we got cut off - I wanted to say I believe very strongly there should be an easy way for both sides to exchange information and a way provided to meet or exchange letters at the very least. I did not give up my daughter in Connecticut due to lack of love but more so due to lack of support and education. I believe in the idea of open adoption and have met more then one family who embraces it here in Utah. I love my daughter and am proud of her who ever she is. Am grateful to the family that has raised her and hope the love was freely given. Maybe someday I can give you the hug I never did.

Sent by Josie Sworden | 4:03 PM | 11-13-2007

I surrendered my son to adoption in 1966 and was reunited with him in 1987 by the agecny in Chicago. At the time of the surrender in 1966 I did not receive a copy of the paper I signed although I knew I was terminating my parental rights and that I was not getting any kind of right. When I called the agency to reunite with my son the social worker mentioned nothing about any right for me. And that is true for all women who surrendered to adoption--there was no right to privacy or anything other right. Surrender papers state nothing about confidentiality or privacy.I lead a support group of wonderful feminist women who surrendered in New York City for twelve years and have met many others like me who knew when we signed the paper we were terminating rights.I am also a member of the ACLU and have their 1993 edition of their Guide to Women's Rights which mentions nothing about any right for women in it's chapter on pregnancy and nothing on adoption.Now I see the ACLU is coming up with a new right to privacy that never existed.I don't know where they are doing their research , but I am ashamed of them for denying adoptees their civil rights. There has been legal precedence since 2000 in Tennessee and Oregon as the new laws were found to violate no rights of birth parents under the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Oregon Appellate Court. there are opponents who use this confidentiality justification but possibly it is a smokescreen for something else. Perhaps they don't want adoptees to search, they believe this will cause more women to have abortions. or they are searchers making big bucks.

Sent by Joyce Bahr | 4:03 PM | 11-13-2007

Hurrah to the Donaldson Institute for providing the kind of systematic analysis and research that clearly demonstrates that the adopted adults access to the original birth certificate is in the best interest of the adopted adult, the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and society as a whole.

Sent by Eileen McQuade | 4:05 PM | 11-13-2007

My husband and I adopted our 6 year old daughter through an open adoption. We chose this option after the quick realization that being open grants much needed respect to all three parties. Her birth parents placed her for adoption because they loved her and wanted a better life for her than they felt they were able to give. Their greatest concern was that she would not know how much they loved her and how much they had sacrificed for her. It was only through open adoption this was possible. We have an extremely unusual situation that allows us to be in very close contact with each other. Our daughter has known (and cherished) her birth parents all of her life. She views her status (being adopted) as very special. We are in regular contact with not only her birth parents but her full extended birth families on both sides. Our daughter knows and will always know what her birth parents went through to place her in a loving home.
We worked with the birth parents during the adoption to decide the level of openness they were comfortable with. We would have been just as happy with more or less but the important thing was being able to discuss it openly.
Hopefully attitudes will change as more and more children of open adoption come of age and can share their experiences.

Sent by Blair | 4:07 PM | 11-13-2007

Another mother who surrendered her first born here. Interestingly enough, I signed the waivers allowing him to have access to my identifing information so he could find me even before I sighed the relinquishment papers allowing him to be talken away.
Unfortunatly, his birth certificate is now held in Massachusettes and thier joke of a law will not allow us to have it. Even now that we are happily reunited, and even if we walked into vital records together, we still cannot have the one piece of paper that has our names on it.
I do not know one othe mother who actually fears her child, rathjer they wait, count down the years until this inforced social experiment called adoption is done.
Of course, it is never really over. We can never gets those years back.
Bravo to the Institute for making sure that the world knows the truth. Now maybe the USA can be like other evolved countries.

Sent by Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy Origins-USA.org | 4:09 PM | 11-13-2007

Knowing where and who you come from is a basic human need/right. How dare anyone who knows the information of their origins tell me I do not deserve to know mine. I have contacted my birth mother and she has not really wanted much to do with me. I am still glad to know who she is. And I would never think of intruding in her life when she does not want me to.

Sent by Cathleen | 4:13 PM | 11-13-2007

Imagine being deprived of the basic facts of your identity and personal history. Imagine knowing almost nothing about who you are or where you came from. Imagine attending a family reunion where no one really looks like you. Imagine always feeling somewhat alone, somewhat apart, and somewhat incomplete because this fundamental information has been deliberately and systematically denied to you. When you can imagine these things you will begin to understand how an adult adoptee feels. I do understand the need for privacy to encourage adoptions. But an adult human being has a fundamental right to know these basic facts of his or her own identity. This is a basic human right. And it's time for a change.

Sent by Sean Duffy | 4:17 PM | 11-13-2007

To say that children who were adopted were 'given up' by their birthparents is an outdated term. Birthparents relinquish their rights to their child thereby giving legal permission to someone else to parent and raise their child. Besides being outdated, to say someone has been given up has an undertone of abandonment and can be very hurtful to the adopted individual. We should all be aware of and sensitive to all parties involved in adoption. Where birthmothers are concerned, with absolute certainty it can be said that these mothers relinquish their rights out of absolute, selfless love. Their child's welfare is placed far ahead of their own desire to parent. This one act will forever change everyone it touches and is the furthermost thing from abandonment.

My husband and I are the blessed and grateful adoptive parents of two exceptional children. I thank God for my children and their birthmothers and pray that the pain of their relinquishment will diminish with each passing day.

Sent by Jillaine Kamp | 4:17 PM | 11-13-2007

As an adopted person I believe in the equal right of equal access to my birth record. Closing records was meant to keep snoopy neighbors and the newspaper out of family business. I do not believe it was ever meant to keep mothers and their children apart. I am not asking for a relationship with my birthmother. I am asking for the basic human right of knowing who I am and where I come from. If you do not think that this is important to all people look at the number of people interested in and investigating their family genealogy. As an infant I was provided a wonderful family to raise and love me. My needs and interests, as an adoptee, were of primary importance. Now that I am an adult I am being told that the interests of the other members of the triad are of greater importance.
Because I was, through no fault of my own, born to an unwed woman must I be penalized as an adult? Mr. Atwood has no right to speak for me when he says that adoptees do not need the information on their birth certificates. How does he know what I need. Yes, Mr. Atwood, I DO need to know who I am and where I came from. It is the honest answer to who I am.

Sent by Michele | 4:19 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a mother who surrendered a child for adoption in 1968, and I fully support adoptee access to their original birth certificates, with no conditions that do not apply to non-adopted people. Simple, isn't it, when you take out all the melodramatics about reunions, good and bad.

I do not want or need the "protection" of the ACLU or NCFA or any other group from my own son, and he does not need the nanny state telling him whether or not he is worthy to see his own birth certificate. Adopted adults and their birth kin may or may not desire or seek reunions, but that is a private matter, not the concern of the state. The choice of adopted adults to request and receive their own birth information is a civil right. It is about RIGHTS, not reunions. No parent has life-long dominion over an adult child; birthparents should be no different, especially as we surrendered all parental rights.

Let adoptees speak for themselves, they are quite capable, and send the special interest groups home. Future shows on this topic should feature adoptees, not just industry shills.

And if you want the viewpoint of real birthmothers, let us speak for ourselves too. We are also capable of speech and are not longer in the shadows.

Sent by Mary Anne Cohen | 4:21 PM | 11-13-2007

This is an issue of equal treatment under the law. As adult citizens, adoptees should have the same right to unconditional access to their birth records that non-adopted citizens have. Anything less is discrimination. This is between the adoptees and the states which hold their birth records. As for reunions, they happen all of the time under closed records systems, but reunited adoptees cannot receive access to their records, either. People do have the right to free association and can make their own choices regarding their own relationships, without state interference.

Sent by Laurie Dunfield-Baker | 4:25 PM | 11-13-2007

Okay my 2 cents
I was adopted at two years old. I was relinquished at 2 days old. For those of you that think this is some type of retribution or a scarlett "A" to put on birth Parents I would like to correct you. In fact this has everything to do with the Adult who as a child was relinquished and placed into another home. This is about reconnecting with ones own roots. My goodness how in this country where so many trace their own roots / geneology here and there how could you not understand? Our own history is rewritten we just want to know what every other American has the right to know about themselves. It isn't about imposing on a new family. Sometimes reunion works sometimes well it doesn't but within the truth without lies and secrets people can go on if that is the case... but to know your roots - your geneology - your medical background... Hello? What is so terrible? Can anyone who was raised within their family of origin say that they didn't want to know what their diseases and medical history members of their family have? What grand stories of generations past ... how thiey came to be? Would you like to work on a family tree in which you are an outer branch with no connection to the history of that family ..... I respect Birth Parents rights not to know but as a decision between two adults and not a via a system that makes money . Not via a system that permits some one to say no but not directly. If a birthparent does not want contact than "just say no" if and when the time should arise. Don't deny a person their familial history and medical background.
Just my two cents

Sent by Drew Shimkus birth name John Klatt | 4:31 PM | 11-13-2007

This issue is not about reunion. This is about information. All of us, adopted or not, are on a journey through life. And part of that journey is to discover "who am I?" and "why am I here?" Adoptees need their own personal information to be able to complete this journey. We are not talking about making adoptee records public -- meaning that anybody can receive the information. This information of our birth is not to be broadcast. It is private, meaning that only persons named on the birth certificate can have access to the information. That is all that we are asking for. The right to know our own information. No one asked us - the adoptee - if we wanted to be placed in this "witness protection program" under the guise of sealed records. When will somebody start to consider us?

Sent by Holly | 4:45 PM | 11-13-2007

Restoring original birth certificates to their owners---adult adoptees---isn't a search issue, it's a civil rights one. Thousands of adoptees and birth parents are finding each other every year without them. I did.

Yet even if I was to walk into the courthouse with both my mothers (adoptive and birth) by my side in support, they would refuse to give me the document that records my birth.

Why? I'm a parent myself, I pay taxes, and I vote. I'm allowed to own a home and serve my country. But only because of adoption, in the eyes of the state, I will forever be a child who needs to be protected from my own information.

I don't want special rights. I want my rights restored as an equal citizen of this country.

M. Paul

Sent by M. Paul | 4:55 PM | 11-13-2007

In my experience, the secrecy surrounding my birth son's adoption in 1979 was there, not to protect me, but to protect his adoptive parents and keep me hidden, shrouded in shame. When my son came to find me four years ago, I was THRILLED. We've forged a lovely relationship and are back to being family to each other. There's no reason to keep adults from their own histories. They need and deserve to know the truth about their existence. What right can be more basic?

Also, as the facilitator for a birth mothers' support group, I see all the time how much women worry about their lost children. We just want to know they're all right. Anything else is gravy.

Sent by Kathy Waddill | 5:07 PM | 11-13-2007

A birth certificate is attached forever to the child, It does not belong to the mother and/or father. At the time of birth the child is a seperate human being. Why then, is the child denied the record of their existance in the human race? Why is it forbidden to know what time we were born? What hospital? Our birth name. Birth certificates should be available to ALL citizens of our country not just a select group. The government should not have a hand in something as fundemental as our existance. If there is no desire to have relations with the adoptee from the biological family, that is no different than the children who are born into their natural families and denied appropriate relations. I am thankful that our country offers protective services for those who are abused or neglected. But what exactly is the government trying to protect by sealing records? An adult child from the truth? An adult parent from the truth? That makes no sense to me!!! It is time to face reality. Truth and justice for ALL should always be our goal as a society.

Sent by Amy | 5:10 PM | 11-13-2007

How dare Tom Atwood presume to speak on behalf of mothers whose identity and privacy he is supposedly protecting. He did not get MY permission to speak for me, nor any of the other mothers that I know and deal with constantly. I resent someone who makes a living by finding new and even more creative ways to strip mothers of their infants to feed the adoption industry for profit having the audacity to speak on our behalf.

Mr. Atwood, How dare you! Mothers of loss are perfectly willing and able to speak for themselves and will no longer be used by you and the industry that you represent. Your assistance is no longer required, wanted nor necessary. We will no longer be a silent partner to your ability to earn a living off our backs. Do not presume to speak for us again, ever!

Sent by Sandy Young | 5:11 PM | 11-13-2007

I am also a birth mother. Privacy? That has never been the issue. The issue was that I was in high school, it was 1961, and that is how it was done back then. It was a misquided social experiment, with us as the subjects. I have been searching for my birthson for years, and recently thought I'd found him. He sent for his original birth records to confirm, but unfortunately, it turned out that I am not his birthmother. We are both disappointed, because we found we like each other quite a lot. It has been a delight to get to know him, and we intend to continue contact. But it means I still am hoping for reunion with my own birth son. Making contact with the man I thought might be my birthson made it possible for me to bring what should never have been a secret out of hiding, and to become whole again. Some birthparents may not be ready for that, or be afraid of being judged again. Many of us experienced awful judgement; I was fortunate that I didn't, though I still was caught up in the system of permanent denial. I was not permitted to grieve; after all, this was supposed to be best for both the child and for me. Others may have good reasons for not wanting to have the fact of having had a child revealed. But the bottom line is that the rights of children born and released (or taken, in some cases) for adoption should always take precedence. They had no choice in the matter then. When they are adults (or before, if circumstances warrant), they have a right to know where they come from. I believe this wholeheartedly. There were times in my life during which it would have been awkward if my birthson had showed up. But there has always been an open place in my heart waiting for him, and it has grown over the years as I imagined him growing from baby to child to man. It will always be there for him.

Sent by Dayle Ann Stratton | 5:13 PM | 11-13-2007

Where did you come from?
Who is your mother?
Who is your father?
What nationality are you?
Are there any serious genetic conditions that run in your family that you could pass on to your children?

If you can answer these five basic questions about yourself then you have no business commenting against open records. No business at all.

Sent by mia s. | 5:18 PM | 11-13-2007

Both my younger brother and I are adopted. (we are not blood related) We have wonderful parents who raised us in a happy, loving home. I know very little about my birth parents. I'm fine with that. I personally do not feel like knowing my family medical history would help me much. Hypothetically speaking, knowing that my birth mother had breast cancer isn't going to STOP me from having breast cancer; it just tells me I have to watch harder for symptoms and do what I can to prevent it. Can't I do that anyway?

I wouldn't mind meeting my birth mother, for curiosity's sake. But I would never seek her out knowing that she wasn't already seeking me.

My brother, on the other hand, has some abandonment issues. He would like to seek out his birth mother. And that's fine. But I believe that if he were to find her when she didn't want to be found, and then she rejected him again, it would be crushing.

I believe a national mutual consent registry is the answer. I believe my birth parents should have the right NOT to know me. Besides, I have parents-and they're wonderful.

Sent by Linda | 5:19 PM | 11-13-2007

I have mixed feeliings on this subject. I am a 48yrs old and was adopted, pretty much at birth. I under no circumstances want to know the identity of of the couple who caused my conception. Nor do I wish it to be legal for them to contact me or learn any of my personal information. I have a mother and had the best father in the world. I expect the the laws to protect me and my parents. No one, even those with the best of intention, be able to determine what is in "my best interests".

Having said that, I do support a database that all adoptees could go to for medical information and other non-indentifing information should the need arise. With our technology, such a database is a possiblity, even if it had to be done state-by-state, county-by-county.

I expectd government to protect me and my privacy as well as my parents and the people who concived me.

Should anyone want to know they're past, venues which do not affect those of us who are perfectly happy with our families should be available.

I have a family, I don't need anyone telling me and exposing me and my family to people that are not our family and forcing opprotunity for unwelcome, unwarranted, and undesired situations.

Sent by Steve D. | 5:22 PM | 11-13-2007

Finding my three children's birth families ten years ago was a no-brainer for me. My orphanage raised mother always longed to know who her mother was so I transfered that longing to what I saw my kids suffer. We were lucky to find all, and all were waiting to be found. A no-brainer, as I said. Eunice

Sent by Eunice Anderson | 5:28 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a reunited birthmother who surrendered my first born son in the UK (where records have been open since 1975, to no disasterous effect)) in 1962. I am also the adoptive mother of a young man who does not have access to his records.

I strongly believe that birthparent 'privacy' is a misnomer, as well as insufficient reason to deny adult adoptees their own history and records.
The imperative of adoptees to have unabridged access to their records trumps the desire of a few biological parents for anonymity - which, in fact, they were never promised.

Anything less than full access is discriminatory.
It is simply WRONG that adopted people should be denied access to information about themselves that is accorded to others as a civil right.

Sent by Lisa Sainsbury | 5:30 PM | 11-13-2007

I gave up two sons in the 60's and I always worry if they were allright, later in life ne of my children need a transplant, and the need to let my adopted sons that they would be there for each other incase of medical needs. Records must be opened, I would of love a open adoption bt that was not heard of. I new that I could not give them 2 parents could. But I am glad that they found me last year. I am proud of ow they grew up and that their familys raises fine sons. I also always worried in time of the gulf war if maybe they may of gotten kill while ofer there. And I would of never known it. We do not what to interfere but the pease that they are all right and any medical history and hertiage is just as important to them as any one.

Sent by Naomi | 6:13 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adult adoptee. Missouri, the state I live in does not allow adult's access to their records. My adoptive parents gave me the court records they received at the time of my adoption. I searched on my own. I did find my birth family. I also found lies, lies on legal papers filed in the courts.

On my adoption papers the name of my 38 year-old married natural mother was correct. At the time of my birth, if a woman was married her husband was listed as the father, be it biological or not. The name of the natural father on my records is not that of her husband. It is not the name of anyone who ever existed. This was, and remains filed with the district court where I was adopted.

Could that be part of the reason that some do not want records opened?

There would be some explaining to do about how these things were handled.

Was this done so my natural mother's husband didn't have to be contacted to relinquish parental rights?

Was this a standard practice?

I'd like to know.

I'd also like to know who my natural father really was. My natural mother died before I found her. So half my medical history, half my ethnicity, half of my natural family will forever remain a mystery.

In an environment where records were open, this would not happen. This would go a long way in ending any less than above board practices that still go on within the adoption industry. It would also hold agencies and governments accountable to those who have been treated in a less than honest manner in the past, be it the adoptee or their adoptive parents.

Adult adoptees deserve the same rights as anyone else, the right to know who they are.

Sent by melanie recoy | 6:18 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a 60 year old female adoptee. I'm a mom, and a grandmother. It took me over 30 years to find and locate my birthfamily members, I was welcomed by both my maternal family and paternal family. NY State claims I can still not have my original birth certificate, why? Its not theirs, its mine and I have the right to it. Again, thankfully I am one of the lucky ones, the search was long and hard, but well worth the effort. All adult adoptees have the right to their original birth certificates across the land.

Sent by Alberta Russell | 6:29 PM | 11-13-2007

A convicted serial killer on death row, a pedophile, a meth-addicted gang member: all have the legal right to access their OBCs. Are adult adoptees really so much more dangerous?

Sent by VHM | 6:40 PM | 11-13-2007

M. Paul is right. To deny any law-abiding adult any information or documents freely available to any other law-abiding adult is, by definition, discrimination. To have this discrimination state-sponsored and tax funded is an affront to all of us, adopted or not.

Sent by Jim | 6:44 PM | 11-13-2007

It's always interesting to me how people make the issue of providing access to records an issue about reunions. Yes, some adoptees will seek out their birth family. But the issue of giving adoptees access to their own records is one of providing access to personal information that BELONGS to the adoptee. It's a civil rights issue. Adopted people are the only individuals I know of in this country who have vital records withheld from them. For those adoptees who state that their adoptive parents are their real parents and they don't want to know anything about their birth family, well that's fine. But their desire not to know should not become a mandate that excludes all adoptees from having access to information that is theirs. The government should not withhold records from the citizens the records pertain to. This is not the birthparent's birth certificate. It is the adoptee's birth certificate.
And to suggest that giving access to adult adoptees to their original birth certificate would cause more abortions is just spin - there is NOT ONE CASE of this occurring on record. Not one. And in examining the statistics from the states that have allowed access, its important to note that abortions have DECREASED. Anyone can make up stuff if they want to scare people. My hat's off to the people at the Donaldson Institute for dealing only with facts.

Sent by Jean | 6:46 PM | 11-13-2007

Origins-USA, a national organization promoting natural family preservation and advocating for people separated by adoption, applauds NPR for airing a program on the important issue of open adoption records ("Talk of the Nation" Tuesday, Nov. 13).

However, we were very disappointed that the people directly affected--adoptees and parents who lost children to adoption--were not included on the panel. Instead, the panel was comprised entirely of an adoptive parent (Adam Pertman), an organization that advocates for the rights of prospective and current adoptive parents (ACLU), and the trade association for the adoption industry (NCFA).

We encourage NPR to schedule another show to let the voices of those whose rights are directly affected be heard.

Sent by Bernadette Wright, PhD, President, Origins-USA.org | 6:50 PM | 11-13-2007

Kudos to the Donaldson Institute. When we birth mothers placed our children for adoption years ago, we had no rights; no document we signed promised privacy or confidentiality. Agencies, attorneys, physicians simply wanted our sons and daughters and provided little, if any, counseling or legal representation to birth mothers. Now that our sons and daughters have reached adulthood, suddenly legislators, attorneys, the ACLU are bestowing privacy "rights" that we did not ask for and do not want. Give the control back to the adopted persons who had no control at the time of their birth. Give them their birth records!

Sent by Carolyn Hoard | 7:03 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a mother who surrendered my firstborn in 1979 and was never promised nor did I ever want, to remain anonymous to my son through state abrogation of his civil right to his original birth certificate.

I wholly support unconditional access for all adoptees to their OBC's as a civil right, the same as all non-adopted have. What they do with them is then their business, not the states.

It is not in the signing of the relinquishment papers but only upon adoption finalization later, that records are sealed.

"Relinquishment documents provided to courts that have heard challenges to states' new "open records" laws do not contain any such promises. To the extent that adoption professionals might have verbally made such statements, courts have found that they were contrary to state law and cannot be considered legally binding.
http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2007_11_for_records.php

Sent by Mary Ellen Rigotti | 7:05 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adoptee. If my adoptive parents had their wish, I would never have found out. I would have continued to believe that I was at risk for several diseases that run in my adoptive family.

Whenever I hear the "if only one person is harmed" argument, I cringe. The "harm" is always one-sided. If only life were that simple. No mention is made of the harm done to hundreds/thousands of others by the existing laws.

The harm done to the millions of adoptees who don't have any medical history. The harm done to millions of birth parents who truly want contact with the children they placed for adoption many years ago.

We can't assume that contact isn't being made because one of the parties does not want it. My birth parents may well be deceased by now. My birth father may not have even known of my existence. An adult may not know that he/she is adopted. I may have brothers and sisters out there who don't know of my existence but would welcome the chance to know me.

As the Donaldson report has found, the experience of the few open records states has been overwhelmingly positive not negative.

Are we not adults? It's time that we were treated the same as non-adopted adults.

Sent by Gaye | 7:11 PM | 11-13-2007

As a birthparent, I can tell you I never wanted or was promised secrecy. In fact, like most of today's birthparents, I have a fully open adoption. My son and I see each other regularly. So it's ludicrous that the state still sees fit to issue a falsified birth certificate and keep the original from my son. America needs to align with reality and restore this basic right of identity to adopted people.

Sent by Heather Lowe | 7:17 PM | 11-13-2007

I'm a 46-year-old adoptee in Oregon who just recently received my original birth record. I spent a lifetime either not caring enough, or feeling that it would be disrespectful to my adopted parents to seek out my birth family. I'm glad I finally made the plunge. I found my birth mother the same day I received my record and sent a letter off soon thereafter. I was fully aware she may or may not wish contact and I detailed my letter accordingly. I was shocked when she called the day she received it and verified herself as my birth mother. Luckily she was very open to contact. It's been a little over a week now and we have met twice. Many long hours where spent in pleasant conversation and I learned, amongst many other things, she never hid my birth from her later family. I went into this with curiosity and only hoped for genetic information in return. I was fortunate to receive much more. Looking back, I must say that I didn't know I was missing anything until I found it. I now feel a wholeness I'm guessing other fortunate adoptees' have known. We take a chance in the search. If it turns out positive, a more rewarding experience I cannot imagine.

Sent by Larry | 7:26 PM | 11-13-2007

ok im sure someone has said this but as someone who has both parents living, I don't have any right to know about their medical history. You don't have a right to anyone's records but your own as HIPPA reminds you every time you go to the doctors. So please, please, please stop using that as a reason.

Sent by Maggie Rechel | 7:40 PM | 11-13-2007

I tuned into your show and was listening to the debate on whether or not to open records for adoptees. I was adopted 25 years ago and have adopted my oldest child. I do believe that the information should be available to adoptees.
I personally have not contacted my birth family, however I do have the lines of communication open for my daughter. I worry though if I ever needed to get information for medical reason how I could get that info. I am fotunate that I had an amazing family who was very open about my adoption and I have names of biological family members if I ever needed to pursue it.
I understand the need to know and the need to keep it private but I firmly believe the child as a grown adult should have that option....to look up their biological family. They had no choice at birth whether or not to be adopted. The least they should get is a chance to gain medical information. It could potentially save their lives.

Author of A Family for Leanne
a children's book on foster care and adoption

Sent by Shelby Griffin | 7:42 PM | 11-13-2007

Speaking from an adoptee POV here. I was taken by the state of NY at 9months old and placed into foster care, and placed with my adoptive family when I was 3. My foster mother slid a note with my complete birth name on it into my suitcase. Even with that information, I was stonewalled for several years, until a light bulb went off-since I was not planned to be relinquished, there was a birth announcement in the paper of the town where I was born. I was reunited with my birth parents in 2001, and have had minimal contact with them. What I do have, is peace of mind. To finally know-who I am and where I come from-you can't imagine it if you haven't lived it. I fully support the opening of records to adult adoptees.

Sent by Michelle | 7:48 PM | 11-13-2007

I find it interesting that it was a group of men on the show debating this issue instead of the women who this affects. As a woman who gave a child up for adoption 13 years ago, I treasure my privacy in that matter. I would be absolutely willing to provide a medical history but not willing to be contacted, nor do I want a relationship with this child. I think that neither "absolute open" or "absolute closed laws" will resolve this issue as there are as many reasons for adoption as there are individuals that make this decision. However, I take responsibility for my decision to place a child up for adoption and still believe it was the right choice for the child. I have since moved on with my life and choose not to have that decision define me. I would not want to be contacted.

Sent by C. L., Florida | 7:49 PM | 11-13-2007

Thomas Atwood came to his position at the NCFA from one of the largest agencies in the country--Bethany Christian Services. Bethany has a track record in the adoption reform world of some rather unethical practices when it comes to advocating for and safeguarding the rights of birth mothers. So why, I ask, is Mr. Atwood so concerned with our wellbeing now? I developed PTSD due to relinquishing my daughter through Bethany--but Mr. Atwood was not concerned with my wellbeing when his organization was trying to convince me I wasn't worthy of parenting my own daughter...

Mr. Atwood, guess what? I'm a birth mother, and I 100% support open records. I don't want you and your twisted views to speak for me!

Sent by Nicole Darr | 8:08 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a "Birthmother" who surrendered a son in 1963 and hope for contact one day. Adoptees deserve to know their identity, their genetic medical/health background. Opening records would give the opportunity/choice to the adoptee to search for that knowledge. Isn't it time to remove antiquated laws from the books and give "these citizens" their right to know who they are and where they came from?

Sent by Karen Chimenti | 8:59 PM | 11-13-2007

I am an adult adoptee born in Kansas City MO. History of adoption in the United States has shown that it has always been intertwined with secrecy, shame and lies. Closed records in todays world is an example and continuation of that history. Adult adoptees deserve their history -- both medical and social just as every other citizen enjoys. Denying that the child is now an adult member of society with a legitimate interest in his or her own life history is degrading. Open records is not based upon reunion --- that can be done and is being done without records. Opening the records is just a basic civil right that should be given to all citizens under the Constitution of the United States.

Sent by Ina Lewis | 9:20 PM | 11-13-2007

I was adopted in 1963 from overseas, at the ripe old age of 48 I actually was given (by my adopted brother, my parents bioligical son who is 1 year older than me) sufficient original documentation to locate my biological mother. Well..........thank you very much!!! Now don't get me wrong, I loved my adopted mother who died many years ago and my adopted father who died 3 years ago very very much and they gave me a very wonderful life. I don't think however it is right that they withheld this information even though I asked for it several times as a young adult (18+). I have intentionally not read any of the previous comments but I think I have the right at the age of majority to know my biological origins especially my biological familial medical history but also the circustances of my biological family and reasons why I was given up for adoption. Yeah Yeah Yeah my biological parents might have a right to privacy but I think my right to know trumps their right to privacy BY FAR!! Sorry bio mom and dad that you had to give me away but I have the right to know why. Now I will go back and read the other posts and maybe I will do a follow-up post.

Sent by Alan | 9:20 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a birthmother who is absolutely in favor of open records. Access to birth records is an inalienable civil right afforded to every adult citizen of the United States except to adoptees. Why can't the ACLU and others see that this is an unconstitutional deprivation of civil rights to a class of people that is readily available to every other citizen who is not a member of that class.
The ACLU, Catholic Church and NCFA think I need protection? I need privacy? From what -- your bigoted, fascist, judgmental notions that I need to hide my "shame" in private? What garbage!
The ACLU is merely protecting Jewish baby brokers who have been operating a shocking business and conducting sociological experiments on innocent babies. The NCFA and Catholic Church are understandably nervous that open records will expose to the world the truth about the millions of women and babies who have been abused by their adoption practices over the past half century. Male-dominated state legislatures are undoubtedly nervous because many of them are probably birth fathers who don't want to be exposed.
Whenever any individual or organization is spouting ridiculous drivel in opposition to reasonable and sound propositions, I have to look to the heart. In this case, it's a dark abyss indeed.
B/M AZ '64, reunited '86

Sent by PSharp | 9:35 PM | 11-13-2007

The only ones who benefit from sealed records are the adoption agencies. They have to be held accountable when the records are opened to adoptees. Then we will find out all the underhanded things that were done in "the best interest of the child". They have played on the fears of each member of the triad to keep control. It is always easier to deal with the known no matter how difficult than the unknown. Adult adoptees have a heavy baggage of "unknown" to deal with.

Sent by Dgdenton | 9:36 PM | 11-13-2007

There is no inherent right for an adopted person to be entitled to the identity of their birth parents. The rights of all parties must be respected. This includes the development of a process or registry where all parties, including the father, can give or not give their consent for their identity to be disclosed. Feelings are not rights. And adoptee who "feel" they have this right irrespective of the trauma they may inflict upon their birth parents are simply wrong.
Of course the adopted child and mother who would like reunification will be disproportionately represented in studies just as they are over represented on this blog. Those biological parents, for whatever reason, who do not wish to have their identity disclosed will be under represented in this blog as they are in studies. They will avoid the topic whenever possible.
There must be mutual respect and consent for an adopted child to be given the identity of their biological parents. What about the fathers ? It did take two people to produce a child if memory services me right.

Sent by Maurice Simmons | 9:44 PM | 11-13-2007

Kim Thompson from Louisiana (Cathy in Hamburg's daughter) | "I had a hard time getting any information at first, but then Texas opened their records to adoptees."

What Texas are you talking about that have opened adoptee's to them?

It could not be the same place I live, Texas USA because they do NOT have open records here unless you already know your birth mother's name most county or district judges will NEVER just hand you anything.

On 1994 and after spending over $1000 in court costs, attorney's fee to draw up the petition, my air fare back & from Ft Worth, cab fare, food, etc... I was told I had to shell out another $300 to pay a Confidential Intermediator, picked by the Judge not me, to find my birth mother then IF and When she did locate her and she wanted contact, I had to again ask him with her for permission. He would not even give me her initials, NADA, nothing!

I paid, the CI took my money and I never heard a word from her again. In 2000 I wrote the judge he said to send another $350 and he would hire another CI, his choice again, to search. I respectfully declined.

I mean no disrespect, Kim Thompson from Louisiana, but please check the laws in TX, because today, only children born after 2009 will ever be able to do as you said you did. And that is only if the state can afford to update their systems.

Sent by Loujean Stauffer Miller | 9:56 PM | 11-13-2007

I am a birth mother of a child born in 1967. We have been in contact since 2000. The agencies who claim to speak for the birth mothers and advocate sealed birth certificates do not speak for me. I am a strong supporter of open birth certificates for adoptees.

Sent by Jan Holman | 10:16 PM | 11-13-2007

We have pedigree's on animals, but as an adoptee I am not intitled to know anything about where I came from. Every human being is entitled to know their medical history at the very least!! At least in my case the adoption agency won't even give me the non id information which I am entitled to under Texas state law. Adoption agency like to play God with people's lives and make decisions for adoptees (to protect their own finances is my best guess). Do you really believe an adoption agency is going to campaign for opening the records? No they will not it would hurt them financially. It has nothing to do with protecting anyone involved . It's the almightly dollar they are protecting. We as adoptee's spend millions of dollars a year desperately trying to obtain what should be ours from birth!!!!!! In my case the Judges in Harris Co. Texas will not open the records even though I have sound medical reasons to do so. I have a daughter who had a stroke at 25 and handicapped son. I would have liked to have had more children, but second wife would not hear of it without medical (due to handicapped son who knows it more than likely was genetic) I am a 50 year old man treated like a child. These issue's will not be solved unless there is a major outpouring of support to do so. I encourage everyone to contact your local and state representatives. We need and won't our records. They belong to us not the state!!!!!!!!

Sent by David | 12:08 AM | 11-14-2007

It is only a matter of time until one "type A" adult adoptee and a zealous class action law firm finds a legitimate reason to demonstrate harm for not having access to birth information. The original lawmakers in my birth state allow adoption records to be unsealed at 100 years. If it takes another 49 years to find out my heritage, I'll live that long just out of spite.

Sent by Robin | 12:51 AM | 11-14-2007

Let's be honest about who wants adoption records to remain sealed. Many adoptive parents now fully support access to records for adoptees. However, some adoptive parents are so threatened by the thought of reunions that they actively oppose open records. Maybe they are unaware that reunions happen even with sealed records?

The pretense of wanting to protect the best interests of birth mothers as an excuse to keep records sealed is offensive to me as a reunited birth mother. No one promised me "protection" and/or confidentiality and efforts to find any birth mothers who were promised anonymity have been in vain.

What about birth mothers who never told anyone? Does it wreck their lives to be found? I had never told anyone, and I WAS found by my son. Knowing my son has finally given me the opportunity to heal and find some peace. Keeping secrets is unhealthy and burdensome.

Sent by Jan Baker | 2:21 AM | 11-14-2007

I don't have much truck with those who scream about their "right" to know their origin. I think this "right" is part of a perverse obsession with genetics that also leads to expensive and dangerous fertility treatments so that couples can enjoy their "right" to have genetically suitable offspring.

And I don't understand those who see no connection between abortion and adoption. For many women, in particular young women, adoption is clearly an alternative to abortion, and one we should be doing everything possible to favor.

Nor can there can be a "right" to know your family's medical history. Do you really know that your biological mother's brother's high blood pressure cam from their father? Was he really the father of both children? Are we going to require paternity tests on every parent just to make sure you have access to correct genetic history information? If your uncle is killed by a drunk driver before he has a chance to die prematurely of natural causes, should you be able to sue the drunk driver for depriving you of the chance to find this out?

Surely there is a middle ground where a register can match birth parents and children placed for adoption so that any voluntary meetings can take place, and so that decisions perhaps made in haste can be rethought twenty years later? But in no case can the "right" to privacy promised to birth parents be destroyed after the fact.

Sent by Marc | 3:55 AM | 11-14-2007

I am an adult adoptee and a birth mother. I am one of the lucky few who has not only found my birth family but also the daughter I placed for adoption 41 years ago. I am building a relationship not only with my b-sister and b-brother, but with my daughter as well. I was placed in a wonderful, loving family and had the best childhood ever. But, there is always that nagging feeling of "who am I really"? I now have lots of answers including medical information. I know that my b-mother wondered about me always. I know she thought about me and wished me well. I know she did the best thing for both of us. Because I had such a loving family, when I had a baby I could not keep, I was confident that I was also doing the best thing for both my daughter and my self. My daughter had a wonderful childhood. She has been open to meeting me and her brother and sister. We have had several visits. We too, are building a relationship. I do not want to replace her parents. I am just happy to know she okay and happy. No one ever promised me privacy. The only reason things were "hush-hush" was because unmarried girls giving birth was bad, not because we were promised that the child could not find us later. It was never mentioned. Please, the records need to be open. We all have a right to know who we are and what we might expect in our later life by knowing our health history.
Respectfully, Marilyn Cotton

Sent by Marilyn Cotton | 6:33 AM | 11-14-2007

Tom Atwood's comments need to be taken in perspective. Although his organization, National Council For Adoption (NCFA), garners considerable media attention, it is actually a small organization of (exclusively) private adoption agencies which in no way speaks for the vast number of agencies throughout the country. Founded in 1980, NCFA has experienced the defection of prestigious charter member agencies like Holt International, the Barker Foundation, Spence-Chapin, and Jewish Social Service Agency and others. It opposes open adoption, a national reunion registry, and birth fathers' rights. Perhaps the most telling revelation of NCFA's policies and practices is found in its "Factbook III" (available for download on its website), a chapter of which is entitled 'Disclosure of Adoptive Status.' Author Denis M. Donovan admittedly justifies lying to the child, in the same way they "lie" about Santa Claus. He advises parents to remember that they are their child's ONLY parents. "...there cannot be 'two sets of parents' nor can there be 'biological' and 'adoptive'..." Referring to the birthmother: "...that woman who gave birth to you....had chosen not to be a mother and not to be a parent.....she never took the time to get to know you." And this one, a sample (recommended) response to young son's inquiry about the reason for his relinquishment: "No," Bobby's mom replies in a matter-of-fact but nonharsh manner. "She didn't love you. She chose not to be a parent and not to get to know you, and not to take care of you." Read it for yourself... page 411, Adoption Factbook III. Now then. Is THIS the organization that we are to give credibility in the issue of adoptee access to birth certificates? I think not!

Sent by Merry Noel | 9:52 AM | 11-14-2007

I'm a birthmother who had contact with my adopted away son whom I placed for adoption in 1968......no sealed records law protected me !! It's a disservice to all to suggest that the state is the only repository of information. It's 2007 and the chance of being found is HUGE. I am grateful that I know my son after losing him decades ago.

Sent by nancy horgan | 10:13 AM | 11-14-2007

The adopted person who wishes to obtain information about their birth parents is not forcing their own interests upon their birth parents any more than the birth parents forced their own interests upon the child who was given up for adoption.

I don't see how the rights of autonomous adults (birth parents) trump the rights of other autonomous adults (adoptees), merely due to the fact that the birth parents were adults first. When the adoptee is a legal adult, he or she has the same right to decide what becomes of the information surrounding his or her birth.

Sent by Jason Pierce | 10:13 AM | 11-14-2007

I am a 59 yr old adoptee. We need to know the family medical history. There should be some kind of update system where as the birth mother gets older she needs to update medical history and have that passed on to the child. What wasn't a problem listed at the time of adoption might be a problem later in life. Keeping records sealed is against the constitution (amendment 14). It's a shame lawyers and judges and intermediaries can have access to our records and decide what we can and can't see but there are OUR records and OUR information and should know. My birth mother is dead, I have to siblings by her so the reunion registries don't help me because there has to be a match. Give me a break at my age, my birth mother being dead...what's the problem!!!!!

Sent by Terrie in Illinois | 10:30 AM | 11-14-2007

I am an adoptee and I have always felt that there was somthing missing in my life. I do have my non identifying info and have found out that I have two siblings and that my mother had mental health issues. How would any of you who know your family have the right to say we should'nt have that same right. I do not believe that anonymity was ever promised to the birth mothers and I have spoken to many birthmoms who would back that statement up.I feel by not giving adoptees and birthmoms the right to the records we exist but don't exist and are still being considered that dirty little secret. The constitution was created to protect its people not for the goverment to use it and play with the words as they choose to in order to fit their needs.People have the right to bear arms which kill people but adoptees are not allowed to know their bithright, heritage, health info, mother ,father or siblings this I do not understand. Due to my mothers mental history she is probably dead but why shouldn't I have the right to know my siblings.

Sent by Rebecca Smith | 11:14 AM | 11-14-2007

Responsibility. We all have to be responsible for our decisions. I am multi-racial, and was adopted through a private agency as a newborn. I was sexually abused by my adoptive father and other family members. I'm sorry if this doesn't satisfy the idyllic family setting that my birthmother may/may not have had in mind for me, but there are lots of things I will never be able to accept about the situation. Is she accountable? Absolutely not - She could not have known. However because of these cowardice-enabling, archaic laws, she will never even have to think about it.

Sent by indigo | 11:27 AM | 11-14-2007

I'm a birth mom who placed her son 27 years ago in a closed adoption and now have adopted a daughter in an open adoption. What a marvelous gift to be able to answer my daughter's questions and have her see first hand where she's from. The shaming that went on long ago for birth moms was from the community, church and family, not from the child. The child did not cause the problem and should not pay for it as an adult. Adoption agencies do not know -- they maintained NO long-term relationships with birth moms. The guy at the gas station knows me better than my worker ever did!

Sent by Beth | 11:33 AM | 11-14-2007

I am the birthmother of a son born in Austin Texas in 1967. Not only was I not promised secrecy of my identity, although I guess they might have when they sedated me to sign his paperwork. The amount of drugs they injected into me where enough to send me on a trip to the moon and back..I ABSOLUTELY believe that Every person has a God-given right to have their ORIGINAL birth certificate. The sooner the better..These adult adoptees have been made to feel sub-standard by a system that was implied that it would protect them. Who were they protected from? Your guess is as good as mine.

Sent by L Richburg Carline | 12:07 PM | 11-14-2007

I'm a 40 yr old adoptee and feel It's time now for me to get my medical information. Not all adoptees can be solved with a PI. Why should we have to pay one to get information we are entitled to anyway. My records are sealed, I don't know where I was born, or what ethnicity I am. I'd like to provide my children with medical history. That may seem trivial to some people, but I'd like to know! Many adoptees are in the same boat. Many adoptees are of legal age now. Birthmother's parents (the one's that shamed them) are deceased. Let's all grow up and open the records now! These laws are antiquated! Write your legislatures -we won't get anywhere if we don't do anything. Use e-mail, snail mail - ANYTHING. Nothing gets nothing done!

Sent by Holly A. | 12:12 PM | 11-14-2007

YES, absolutely adults should have the right to see their adoption and medical records and the practice of amending birth certificates to reflect the adoptive parents as birth parents should be abolished as fraud.

I am an adult adoptee and for years I yearned to learn the truth about my birth family. The funny thing about my story is that the parent I was seeking information about was my birth father because I was actualy adopted into my mother's family. At my mother's request the truth about my birth father was hidden from me for 40 years. Finally after hundreds of dollars, time away from my family and rummaging through stacks of public records halfway accross the country, I came accross divorce records filed as public records which gave me the name of a man my mother had been married to at the time of my birth. She denied he was my father but I had a funny feeling she was not being honest so I searched for him anyway. When I found him with the help of a private investigator he was thrilled to hear from me.

It turns out my birth father was as courious about me as I was about him. As much as I felt a need to know "where I came from" he had a need to know that things had "turned out alright" for me.

Though we are testing the relationship waters carefully, we are moving forward and having a great time. I wouldn't say I think of him as a parent but we send email, talk on the phone about once a month, share stories about the paths our lives have taken and I have gone to meet him in person. I'm looking forward to having my children and husband meet him too.

Havivng open adoption records is not only good for the adoptee and the birth mother but it is good for the birth fathers too. Having access to our records should be our birth right just as it is for all other US citizens. We should remember that adoption involves three people and all three people should have a right to those records. The privacy provision on behalf of birth mothers is unfair to adoptee children but it is most unfair when those children grow up and discover that their entire identity and heredity has been tampered with by one simple stroke of a judges pen.

Sent by Dana Cremin | 2:07 PM | 11-14-2007

I think you did a really poor job of presenting the issue, and should be ashamed of trying to make adoptees out to be a sideshow instead of making cogent arguments, also having two adoptive fathers discussing adoptees rights was insulting.

Very disappointing.

Sent by joy | 2:19 PM | 11-14-2007

I'm a reunited mother who surrendered in 1962 in the UK (where records have been open since 1975, to no disasterous effect) and the adoptive mother of a young man who is denied access to his OBC in Canada.
I agree with Joy. It's a scandal that the people most closely affected by closed records, namely the adult adoptees themselves, didn't get to have more input into this edition of Talk of the Nation.
It was both arrogant and dismissive to marginalize them in such a way.

But then, what's new about that?

Sent by Lisa Sainsbury | 2:37 PM | 11-14-2007

I feel that in order to benefit both sides in this matter there is a need for compromise. I used to be a complete believer that all adoption records should be public but after hearing the testimony of a victim of a sex crime (incest) who gave up her child for adoption, my mind changed. There should be special considerations for mothers who want to maintain their privacy, especially in the cases where sex crimes are involved. The potential for lifelong trauma in this situation is enormous, for the mother as well as the child.
But in most cases I feel the information should be public unless the mother decides to opt out. This is a very basic issue in which the rights of one party vs the other party have to be balanced. And if the parent has a true interest in protecting her privacy, she should be entitled to that. But in the case where parents don't want their personal information disclosed, medical information should be disclosed without anything that is personally identifiable. Adopted children definitely have a right to know their medical history.

Sent by Barbara | 4:58 PM | 11-14-2007

When I lost my only child to adoption in 1967, nobody told me I would have any privacy nor did I ask for privacy. I was so depressed and numb that I did as I was told and that was it. The thought of privacy never entered my mind. I imagine my son's adoptive parents were guaranteed privacy so they would not have to be concerned that his real mother would show up to disrupt their arrangement. Thirty-seven years after he was born, thanks to the compassionate laws of the State of Georgia and the willingness of the State of North Carolina to cooperate, I was finally able to find my son. Now he has 3 parents to love instead of 2, and his son has a much-needed and cherished additional grandparent.

Adoptees should be given the right to know where and who they come from. Then they can choose whether to seek contact with their original parents or not.

Sent by Jamie Scott | 4:58 PM | 11-14-2007

Yes people should have access to their medical histories, whether that identifies their birth parents or not. I believe it is ridicules for the speaker to say that policy needs to be based on research. How can individual feelings and experiences be considered research. Each case is unique. How can research be attained from millions of unique cases? I believe that the public policy should help the majority while protecting the minority, but you can't forget about the minority by just doing what is believed to be the best for the majority, based on "research!"

Sent by Robin Kimbrell | 5:23 PM | 11-14-2007

As an adult who was adopted as a child, I am opposed to providing the identify of birth parents to adoptees. I support access to medical information, but this does not require that I know the identity of my birth parents. I fear that forcing all adoption records to be open may discourage some women from carrying their babies to term and they will opt instead for abortions. The promise of keeping their identities private should not be broken.

Sent by Suzanne | 5:23 PM | 11-14-2007

It is often stated that "adoption is in the best interest of the child". Why does that change as soon as the child becomes an adult and explains that they need their original birth certificate and/or birth family information? Suddenly adoption is no longer "in the best interst of the child" - it becomes about a fictitous promise of confidentiality made to a birth mother decades earlier.
I'm a birth mother who, in the maternity home of 1970, was not promised anything other than a loving home would be found for my son. Adults need access to their own information just as my state provides to Kansas adoptees.

Sent by Marilyn Mendenhall Waugh, MA | 6:26 PM | 11-14-2007

someone stated earlier that it is not our right to have our family medical records. I agree that everyone has the right to keep their medical records private. And HIPPA does protect patient confidentiality. I think the purpose for open records is to allow the same OPPORTUNITY and ACCESS to medical information from our biological families. Whether they care to disclose that information is up to them. It is also to allow the OPPORTUNITY and ACCESS to our heritage, ethnic background and roots. Again it would be up to the biological parents to share any of that information. To me it seems completely unfair that children raised in their natural families have the OPPORTUNITY and ACCESS to this information and as an adoptee I do not. How can giving one group of individuals OPPORTUNITY and ACCESS to THEIR OWN information, and denying another THEIR OWN INFORMATION be equitable under the law. A birth certificate should belong to every child as a record of their existance. Opening records to adoptees is the right thing to do. Adoptees are not demanding anything of their biological parents, we are demanding equal opportunity to know who we are. Equal rights? As far as I know there is no law that will force someone to disclose their family tree or medical information. But if there is a legal document with my name, my footprint, and MY INFORMATION in it, it should be in my possession.

Sent by amy | 6:38 PM | 11-14-2007

Despite my general pissed offness with the program, I was happy to hear Adam Pertman make the important point that ALL adoptions prior to 1940 were, in fact, open, and consequently, opening them now would simply be restoring a right that had been abrogated rather than creating a new law.
The precedent for open adoption records already exists.

As to why adoption practices changed so much for the worse after 1940, and shame and secrecy institutionalized, a person couldn't do better than to read "The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption", By Barbara Raymond, which Publishers Weekly has recommended as one of its best picks of the year. It's an eye-opener that deserves to be read by anyone with any interest in adoption at all.

I should add that sealed records also have the effect of involuntarily putting large numbers of women into some surreal sort of witness protection program, thereby stigmatizing adoptees as criminals. Where, other than in adoption, is a person considered guilty from the get-go?

I feel it's a great pity and a waste that, despite the title of the program, the discussion centred less around the right of all citizens to their OBCs, than it did around the dubious claims (for which no written evidence exists) of some birthparents to anonymity.

Most misleading.

Sent by Lisa Sainsbury | 7:07 PM | 11-14-2007

I am a birthmother who gave up a piece of herself in 1970. There were no options for a "good" pregnant high school girl going to college. The whole process was railroded through , begining with my parents and ending in the court before a judge who might as well been "The Great and Mighty Oz". I was pretty much terrified from beginning to end! I stayed at a home for unwed mothers, returned home and was expected to act as if nothing happened. I would give anything to meet my son who deserves to know how much I love him and think of him every day. Putting a child up for adoption doesn't mean putting them out of your life...

Sent by Deborah Moulton Brusko | 7:13 PM | 11-14-2007

Thank goodness for Adam Pertman who is fighting for our adoptee rights to know who we are, whom we came from! If anyone has an agenda it is clearly Thomas Atwood. I must ask why he is so vehement on this subject of continuing secrecy and why does he insist we adoptees are able to get our medical records!? That is hogwash! Also hogwash that, in his ignorant opinion, adoptees are not affected by being given up at birth. I walked around with a hole in my soul for 61 years until I actually met my birthmother last year. Then I felt fulfilled. But, then, how could Mr. Atwood understand if he isn't an adoptee???

Sent by Linda D. | 8:31 PM | 11-14-2007

I stongly beleive adult adoptees shoule have access to their birth certificates. I ama birthmother and when I relinqished my child in 1968 I was never promised confidentiality nor did I ask for it. That is a huge misconception on the part of our legislators. I simply is not true. I have recently found my daughter and she too was very frustrated trying to find my over the years and was 37 with children of her own before she did. That should not ahve to happen. She has a right to her original birht certificate when she becomes an adult.

Sent by Betsy VanOrnum | 9:53 PM | 11-14-2007

I relinquished my daughter in 1965 in San Francisco and found her in 1985 in Boston. We have a wonderful ongoing relationship. I received a copy of her original birth certificate by asking the agency for a copy. There was one in her file. I made a copy of it for her and had it framed. She should have been able to receive this herself. The laws of adoption are way too antiquated and are in desperate need of change! As a birthmother, I never asked for anonymity. I would have been overjoyed if she had received my name from the start of her search in 1983 instead of it taking me 2 years to find her. Ridiculous! Every individual should have the right to their original birth certificate.

Sent by April Robinson | 10:34 PM | 11-14-2007

Hi, on the program, someone mentioned a national registry is needed. Well there is one. WWW.ISRR.NET
print off the forms and fill them out, and mail them in.
Aunts,uncles,cousins,and adoptees and birthparents, grandparents can sign up.
Joan
of
nyadoptees at yahoo

Sent by Joan | 10:35 PM | 11-14-2007

The fact that mothers are being used yet again as an excuse to keep adoption records and obc's sealed is a farce being perpetrated by the industry to protect their own backsides from prosecutable offenses. When the mothers signed their surrenders, the records were open. When the mothers left the homes with leaking breasts and broken hearts and nothing to show for the single most devastating event in their lives except their stretch marks, the records were open. When the social workers placed their babies in foster care, the records were open. When the mother's parental rights were terminated by a court of law, the records were open. It wasn't until the adoption was finalized that the records were sealed. If a child never was adopted (despite social worker promises of the perfect family who was more worthy than the infant's mother to raise it, some babies were not adopted) then the records were never sealed.

While I support the adoptee's right to their obc and any records that are rightfully theirs, I resist the idea that anyone has a 'right' to another's medical, social and psychiatric history, without their knowledge or permission. I lost a son to adoption in 1967 and have been reunited with him since 1990. I have offered him everything I knew about my self and his father willingly. I do not, however, believe that he should have rights that my other children do not have, or that any other person in the United States does, being the right to my HIPAA-protected medical history. My medical history goes hand in hand with me. If adoptees want their family's medical history, they better get used to the idea that they will have to take their families, too, as they request, like any other human being in the United States.

Sent by Sandy Young | 11:55 PM | 11-14-2007

When I signed the relinquishment papers in 1962 and my daughter was taken out of my arms my responsibility to her did not end. Nor did the love and the rendering of my soul but that subject is not truly relative to opening those stupid sealed records. Adoptees are not slaves and are entitled to all the information out in the world that they were or are part of. Birthparents are still responsible for bringing a life into this world and will forever be connected by that bond, spiritually, even if not deemed so legally.
As for the abortion issue (and it is a separate issue) if someone wanted one they would find a way to have one. The world is not so small anymore. I gave birth to my daughter by choice and that is the way the abortion issue should stand. BY CHOICE! KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY!
I have been blessed having my daughter in my life for the past 26 years. But again, that isn't the issue. (I was so lucky to have found her without open records) The whole crux of this matter is how dare we treat these people like second class citizens. They took no part of any contract and signed no documents to take away their freedoms. And we, as birthmothers, could never sign away our responsibility to answer their questions.

Sent by Fredda Rubin | 12:31 AM | 11-15-2007

First, let's see it as it was for the birth mom's. They were told sign this or we won't help you. They weren't given a choice like check this box if you feel it's okay to be contacted in the future by your child. They weren't asked, They were told. That's the way it is. Imagine everyone telling you, "you're on your own". Well, you don't have to imagine. That's how it is today. There is an incorrect view of adoptees who want to find their birth parents to fill a void in their lives. We aren't ungrateful for the parents who wanted us and raised us as if they bore us. We aren't turning on the only family we've ever known all of our lives. We just wanna know our first chapter. Adoption is a business. They profit from helping young girls in trouble and then charge the babies to find them later. Adoptees are always considered to be babies, no matter our age. We have been thrown out with the bath water long enough. Our rights DON'T come last. If birth mom's don't want to be found they can be unlisted. Isn't that an easier solution than denying generations of people access to their own information?

Sent by Tamra Bielefeld | 1:17 AM | 11-15-2007

As an adoptive parent of a now-28 year old daughter, I've changed my views on open records over the years. Two years ago our daughter's birth mother tracked HER down, and it was the best thing that could have happened. We've all met, we have a better understanding of our daughter, she's had a lot of questions answered, and she has a much better medical history picture. Yes, I've had less than kind thoughts about how the mother now wants a relationship and likes seeing the grandchildren, but she wasn't around when we were going through hell with a very troubled teenager. However I also feel that this was always in the back of our daughter's mind and part of her troubled history; had she known who she was back then, maybe it would have saved us all a lot of grief.

Sent by Bill Goodwin | 9:18 AM | 11-15-2007

In response to Barbara ("...after hearing the testimony of a victim of a sex crime (incest) who gave up her child for adoption, my mind changed. There should be special considerations for mothers who want to maintain their privacy, especially in the cases where sex crimes are involved.") two points need to be made.

1. Recent legislation releasing original birth certificates to adult adoptees provide for contact preference if a birthmother so chooses. But, in conjunction with that, she is asked to submit an up-to-date medical history that can be not only valuable but life-saving. Especially in the case of incest, where there is a possible double whammy for genetically-related diseases, the adoptee needs this update more than ever.

2. It cannot be assumed that all birthmothers who conceived through incest would be horribly traumatized by contact with her child. One case I recall involved an adoptee who was asked, prior to completion of his search, what he would do if he learned that he was a product of incest. He said, "Then I would look into my birthmother's eyes and say to her, 'I know. And it's OK.'" As it turned out, he had to say those words to his birthmother, and the result was the most healing event in either of their lives. Remember that the absence of the incest-created child from a woman's life doesn't take away the pain of the sexual abuse. Nor does the appearance of the 'child' later in life guarantee the kind of trauma you refer to.

Marriage can be traumatic, as well. Some husbands kill their wives. But, we don't stop people from marrying because someone might get killed.

Sent by Merry Noel | 9:55 AM | 11-15-2007

Thank you for your comment Bill. Let's not forget that adoptive parents are a part of this as well. My adoptive mother certainly had mixed emotions when I informed her of my intent to search for my biological family. She was very afraid of the hurt, rejection, or other unknowns that I may discover. She wanted to protect me from any pain. But she also knew that the pain of not knowing far outweighed those possibilities. She was of course also fearful of being 'replaced' or 'not being a good enough mother' to me. But she fully supported my need to know about MY place in the world. And she fully supports open records for adult adoptees. Again, it is about finding out the TRUTH. And in real life the truth can be wonderful, or it can hurt like no other pain. That is the nature of life as a human regardless of ones adoption status. The adoption experience creates many emotions for all parties involved, but being open about it is healing. Keeping things sealed away can only lead to grieving. THere is no sense of closure.

Sent by amy | 10:24 AM | 11-15-2007

I found the conversation very interesting and am always eager to hear two sides of a story.
I take issue with Mr. Atkins statement regarding identity. Unless you your self are adopted you could not possibley know how it feels to lack identity. As one caller stated when people tell her she looks Irish, and she responds, guess I am Irish. This has always been a disturbance for me. I also would like my medical history for my childrens sake. I have suffered with a mild form of cancer and an addiction.
I would also like my birth parents know that I grew up ok and was well taken care of by my adoptive parents.
As a national spokesman for such a sensitive issue, it is imperitive that you do not presume to know how another feels. Thank you.

Sent by Randy Fello | 10:26 AM | 11-15-2007

No legal document has ever been produced indicating that a woman was promised anonymity from the child she surrendered. I've never heard a mother who lost a child to adoption say that she was PROMISED that she would not one day be contacted by her child. This argument is used by those who wish to keep the adoptee and mother separated, adoptive parents and the agencies who represent them.

An adoptee has 2 mothers and 2 fathers. These mothers and fathers should be supporting their sons and daughters civil right to access their original birth certificate. A right granted to every other US citizen.

Secrecy hurts all those involved with adoption.

I lost my son to adoption in 1984.

Sent by carol | 12:19 PM | 11-15-2007

I support open records.

I am reunited with my son. My son is also reunited with his father and all of his siblings.

All of us are now working on getting the records open in Ontario. Sadly, a judge has ruled that the previous law had to be struck down and now not all adoptees will be able to get their original birth certificates because the judge has insisted on a disclosure veto on request. This means that some adoptees (approx. 3 percent) will still be treated like second class citizens on the whim of another person.

I personally believe that all adoptees should be allowed their original birth certificates as a matter of principle.
I also believe that the law is not there to protect people who lie - at least it should not be its purpose. I have always been honest with my husband - so should everyone else. My son should not be punished because someone chose to lie about their past.

Just one more thing I would like to mention. Not all mothers actually signed a consent to adoption. In Ontario, the social workers had the right to take children from fit parents, some agencies ran "dead" baby scams (imagine your "dead" baby showing up at your door 30 years later - it is happening a lot now) and many mothers had their basic human rights abused. The abuse included verbal and physical abuse from professionals (especially hospital staff), mothers being drugged up in hospital, denied lawyers and told to sign papers in that state (you would not be allowed to give away your house or car in that state, so why a child?)

The UN has said this was the case in Ontario and the Ontario government has finally admitted that adoption fraud was rife. The records are being opened partly to help the many families wrongly ripped apart to find closure as well as identity. For many, it is the only justice their families will get.

BTW, not one mother stepped forward in the recent law suit to force a disclosure veto into the adoption disclosure law in Ontario.

Not one out of a possible quarter of a million.

Sent by Cath | 12:38 PM | 11-15-2007

As an adoptee I think I should be given the right to my Original Birth Cert. Plus all Medical Histories. I have medical now as I had to PAY the agency for this information,But can not get Birth Cert. still. I have also met my birth mother and my siblings, aunts, uncles,grandparent, etc...We have a wonderful relationship and to find out that they never forgot about me and made sure to tell each generation until I found them. But for me, at the time a single mother with some hereditary issues to PAY for information was tough. We should have the same rights as anyone else. We shouldn't have to pay for our heritage or life threatening medical information.

Sent by Jenell Kreuger | 2:44 PM | 11-15-2007

As an adoptive mother I am proud of our daughter for searching and finding (for free) her b.mom. Think about it: would you want to wonder who you are? Basic decency would dictate that adoptees have the same rights as all of us: i.e. the right to our own, original birth certificates. Pity so many have to pay big bucks to get this.

Sent by Anne Johnson | 3:32 PM | 11-15-2007

"The promise of keeping their identities private should not be broken.
Sent by Suzanne | 5:23 PM ET | 11-14-2007"

I am a birth mother and sorry, Suzanne, there were no such promises made. Not to me or, by the sound of most of the letters, to any one. The only reason for being sent away and keeping it all hush, hush was so our families would not suffer being embarrassed by the "wayward daughter". My daughter, when I found her said, "I have been waiting for this call all my life." She had a wonderful childhood but still, as an adult, wanted more. Me!

Sent by Marilyn | 3:32 PM | 11-15-2007

As an adoptee I was allowed to join the USMC in 1990. Nobody denied me the right to put my life on the line for my country. There I was issued a semi-automatic weapon and was prepared to die fighting for my countries freedom. Yet as an adoptee in the same country I fought for freedom I was denied my original birth certificate and any identifying information about my birth parents and siblings. How can this be explained? I subsequently had to fight for this information with the same determination and perseverance I had in the Corps. I refused to let anyone take my freedom away including those whom I was willing to die for! In August of this year my determination paid off with the help of my Search Angel I located my BM, BF and my full-blooded brother! Semper Fi!

Sent by April Tenorio | 4:06 PM | 11-15-2007

Two adoptive parents debating an issue that impacts....adoptees? In some ways, not much has changed since 1954 when adoptee rights advocate Jean M. Paton wrote, "Everyone except the adopted has been talking about adoption. About certain parts of adoption, the parts that can be seen and the parts that can be heard. The rest is silence - or was. What other human institution has so little comment from those within it? Of what other group is so much said from without and so little from within?"

I'm sure the show producers booking the guests did not intend to banish adult adoptees from the discussion, but it felt - once again - like we're being infantalized. Next time, please allow at least one of us to sit at the grown-up interview table! I'm middle-aged and I promise I won't need my adoptive daddy to sign a permission slip!

Sent by Nina | 7:53 PM | 11-15-2007

It has been wonderful to read the expereinces of other adoptees that, while they had wonderful childhoods, found that the lack of heritage and medical information access troubling. I have registered through the state of Texas, but must wait, perhaps forever, to know more about myself.

I have a small "pink card" with a few notes that my birth mother left with the adoption agency, such as her desire to have me grow up in a rural setting and that my father is French-Native Indian. I saw this card later in life, after I had developed the goal of owning my own educational farm and returned to school for my master's degree in Agro-ecology.

My parents and I marvel at the fact that, though I deeply value the culture and ethics that they instilled in me, there are aspects of my physical and mental character that seemingly could only relate to the "nature" of who I am biologically.

It would be wonderful to simply thank my birth mother, even in an ananomous fashion, and to know more of my heritage. At the very least, I am due my medical history, which could help resolve ongoing health issues that I have encountered.

Sent by Julie | 10:31 PM | 11-15-2007

I accessed my records 2 years ago at the age of 36. Only after my adopted father passed away and kept meticulous records on every part of his life was I able to do this.So I actually stumbled upon them when he was alive and dealing with a long term illness, and I had gaurdianship of his possession, but I only had a one page legal size piece of paper with the bare minimum of information; age, race and education of each ofthe birth parents.These were the copious notes he took himself, maybe thinking I would like to have this information. So when I was able to get the complete file, my husband urged me to go ahead.I was born in Wisconsin in 1968 and they are very progressive in their laws and it took little to no effort to find my birth mother. The irony to this story is that my husband is also adopted and he had an unfortunate ending. He was born in Indiana in 1970 and the records could only be accessed by hiring intermediary. She did a great job in finding his mother. I have a great relationship now with my birth mother. On the other hand, my husbands' mother was found and barely acknowledged the fact she had him and told the intermediary to tell him "I'm healthy". And that's the end. My story gets even more intriguing though, because my birth father, who my birth mother had not seen in 36 years, ends up looking her up in a VISTA directory; they were both volunteers back then, and finds her shortly after I found my birth mother. Coincidentally, she told him "guess what our birth daughter has contacted me after all this time" So we, all three of us, first talk on the phone together on my 38th birthday and then we set a reunion up in my town, Indianapolis for all of us to meet. It was exciting, nerve racking and wonderful all at the same time. We are all friends now.

Sent by jill alexander kirby | 11:13 PM | 11-15-2007

Hey Nina,

Thanks for bringing up the issue of adoptees. Actually, we're working on a follow-up show for this coming week, that focuses on the personal stories of adoptees.

Thanks for listening!

Sent by Dalia M. | 4:30 PM | 11-16-2007

I am an adoptee who, through the actions of a search angel have found my genealogical family. Finding them and the truth about myself and my background, l strongly support the right for all adoptees having a copy of their original birth certificate. Just because a birth certificate is legal doesn't mean it's the truth. Our present certificates are lies. Legal lies. Adoptees are the only US citizens who are not granted that right, treated as second class citizens in that respect, simply because we were born in a society that deals with unwed mothers as something to be swept under the table, ignored. We adult adoptees, once considered illegitimate babies, have the same rights as any other US citizen: "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

"Many adopted parents bask in the comfort and security of the legal lie, but if they were put in the shoes of and walked the walk of their adopted children, they would, perhaps, if empathetic people, be able to understand the importance of knowing who one really is.

I'm not saying that our genealogical family is who we are...it's only PART of who we are. However, not knowing large chunks of your background can plague one.

My adopted parents went on and on about their ancestors, telling me "These are your ancestors too!" But they weren't. I felt out of integrity claiming three signers of the Declaration of Independence! But it made me want to know what my ancestors HAD been. Nothing did I know of what excitement awaited me in years to come. It did, however, leave me wondering "What was wrong with me?" and "Why didn't she love me enough to keep me?" After all, in a child's mind, "how could anyone give something away she loved?"

In my fiftieth year of life, my oldest daughter called me to ask, "When are you going to get rigorous about finding your birth mother, Mom?"

That phone call to me started a "E-ticket ride" to search for Shirley Smith. Do you have any idea how many Shirley Smiths there are in the US?! The results of that search were amazing. The truth sets one free!

My results did not read like a Cinderella story.

Shirley Smith was twelve years old when she
gave birth to me in 1943. In 1943 12-year-old girls in southern California were playing jump rope and going to see "Bambi". The story takes off from there, and I learned far more than most adoptees do if they search. But I grew from that experience and knowledge. I am writing books now: About my experience of dealing with what I found, about pedophiles, about sexual abuse, and about getting past fears and growing in the experience.

Not all adoptees can deal with truth. That's not to fault them and it's not to say they are even AWARE of their fears. I wasn't. I had no idea I had a fear of abandonment. Being merely weeks old when adopted, how could a tiny baby know the difference between one mother and another? Easily. Naturally. But it's those forgotten traumatic memories that stay buried in the subconscious to fester and run our lives without us being aware of them. They are the most powerful!

I could go on expounding upon these issues, but the bottom line is that adults adoptees should be given the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Protecting the people who made decisions for us as infants is a matter that fades into the past. Adults get on with their lives, but they need to do so without controlling information to other the growing adoptee and denying them the right to the truth so the adult adoptees can get on with their own lives, knowing the information and details everyone else takes for granted about their lives. Why do I look the way I do? Where did my talents come from? Why is it I can't get my life together? (Many adoptees have A.D.D.)

Check these matters out with adoptee support groups. Too many adopted parents are happily ignorant about the issues to which I am referring. They haven't read books, like "Primal Wound" or "Twenty Things Every Adoptee Wants Their Parents to Know".

They are coming from one side of the triangle. There are three sides: Adoptee, birth mother, and adopted parents. Adults involved with adoption should support the needs of the baby involved, even as he/she physically grows into an adult. The part most people aren't aware of is that adoptees grow even closer to their adopted parents after finding their roots.

I would love to get involved in a deeper discussion about these matters, being committed to everyone involved in the adoption triangle, for the highest good of all.

Sincerely,

Sent by Patricia B. Collins, RN | 6:22 PM | 11-16-2007

I at a very young age had a son and a daughter that I gave up for adoption due to my age and need to finish high school. My family was not very supportive so I felt that this would be best for My children. I always dreamed they would look me up and we would be together. I had no idea of all that it would take to find me and I still live fairly close to the same area. Both of my children I met this summer and have had a wonderful life. I am grateful for those who adopt but I feel that if a child wants to know who they are IT should not be as difficult as what my children went though. They are the ones whom are being punished for a simple desire Who is my BM & BF
Barb Bianchetti Westerville, Oh

Sent by Barb Bianchetti | 7:10 PM | 11-16-2007

I admit I have not yet read all the prior comments so I apologize if this has already been stated. First as a birth mother my son was NEVER unwanted. I relinquished because I did not believe I could afford to raise a child and because I believed I did not deserve to raise my child. Abortion was never an option I considered and this is common among many birth/first parents I know so please stop comparing them as if they are the two sides of the same coin. Additionally I never asked for secrecy when I placed. I was never promised secrecy. Secrecy was never implied. When I gave birth my history became the history of my son. Medical, cultural, all of it is his and he has every right to have it whenever he wants it. I for one wish the laws would catch up and make it legal for him to obtain HIS information.

Sent by Kathleen Cooley | 12:05 AM | 11-17-2007

When I surrendered my child to an adoption agency in the mid '70's, I was never promised confidentiality.

As a mother who surrendered,I fully support open records for adoptees as a civil right.

Sent by Roxanne St. Peter | 10:24 AM | 11-17-2007

If you do another show on the experiences of adult adoptees I hope that you can manage to find some adult adoptees as panel guests. If it's a repeat of the first show, with two representatives of the adoption industry mediating and "translating" for us, then don't bother...
There are dozens of strong, articulate adult adoptee advocates and LEADERS out there. One of them, Cathy Robishaw, phoned in and was CUT OFF when she challenged Tom Atwood's appropriation of the privilege to speak for adoptee existential reality.
Would you have a show on voting rights with no African-American panel guests? A show on GLBT rights with two middle-aged straight male panel guests!?!?!?

Sent by Ron Morgan | 1:05 PM | 11-17-2007

These comments should be sent to our legislators asking them to make a national law about having open records; and pass that law soon, before it's too late for same people. I neglected to mention in my first comment that both my birth parents were dead by the time I got the nerve to search at the age of 50. It wasn't all bad news though.

Fortunately, my birth mother had told her husband and their two children all about me, so they welcomed me with open arms. From there, with all the photos (some taken in the 1800's!) and letters that had been saved, and talking with my half-siblings, I learned many things that showed me what kind of background I came from.

My birth mother graduated from high school at 16, as the valedictorian and then went on to graduate from college, cum laude, as a psychology major.

I got to know my ancestors through those letters and pictures; plus books that family members had put together about the family. It was as though my birth mother had saved everything, hoping that someday I would find her! She knew the importance of knowing one's genealogy!

My half-brother and -sister and their father are like family to me and we see each other often - even though we are separated by hundreds of miles. My sister and I had always wanted a sister! I have turned out to be the genealogist in the family!

Had I known what I now know about my birth mother, I would have done much better in high school (I'd always settled for a B+ average). And I wouldn't have slipped through college the first time.

There are so many more aspects to support the idea of having open records, not the least of which is that adoptees are adults who are denied certain civil rights that are long past due. We deserve having them returned to us. Even though I have connected with my birth family, I still want my original birth certificate! That's my true birth certificate. The other one is an augmented version...a lie; only the legality, not the truth.

Sincerely,

Sent by Patricia B. Collins, RN | 1:57 PM | 11-17-2007

I look forward to listening, and hope there will be room in the upcoming show for a spectrum of adoptee opinion on the right of adopted people to their OBCs and right of access to the families they were born into, as well as just their "stories".

After all, Atwood and Pertman got to give their opinions on these matters, which do not even pertain directly to them.

Sent by Lisa Sainsbury | 4:25 PM | 11-17-2007

I agree with Nina. This is NOT primarily about search and reunion which happen all the time whether records are open or closed. So, hearing more "personal stories" isn't what's needed to bring about restoration of the rights of adopted persons. This is an issue of an entire group of people, adult adoptees, being legally denied the same right to access their own birth records that all non-adopted people take for granted.

Dalia M. wrote:
Thanks for bringing up the issue of adoptees. Actually, we're working on a follow-up show for this coming week, that focuses on the personal stories of adoptees.

Sent by Laurie Dunfield-Baker | 9:20 PM | 11-17-2007

I am wondering why you'd like to hear more 'stories' from adoptees. It is really not the point, after all. We want to have access to original birth certificates, because they are our human and civil right. Not because we need medical histories, not because we want a search and reunion. Just because it is something that belongs to us, and no one is right to take that away. Our birthrights are ours, they were ours from the moment we came into the world. For good or bad, they are ours.
If NPR is to do a show on adoptees 'stories', it will certainly cloud the issue that the Donaldson report was trying to address. Should Adult Adoptees Have Access to their Original Birth Certificates? Simply YES. It's The Right Thing To Do.

Sent by Catherine Robishaw | 1:26 AM | 11-18-2007

I am a birthmother that was forced to relinquish her first daughter in 1961. At that time, mothers did not make choices, everybody else did---parents of the mothers, social workers, the churches, the agencies etc. The story was that the loving thing to do was to relinquish your baby (at that time, a hot commodity) to a "wonderful" adoptive home. Your parenting would never be as good, no matter what your skills and love, as you were usually not married and, sometimes, the birthfather had abandoned you. You wereat times threatened with dire consequences if you did not succumb. There were no schools for single pregnant mothers and women were sent away to give birth surrounded by secrecy and shame. No one offered to help mothers parent and the only solution was relinquishment.

Birthmothers were never promised anything, including anonymity. This was never about their rights, but about the "need for privacy" of the adoptive family. The laws were not written out of concern for birthparents, believe me. With birthparents, it was all about what you were losing, not what you were getting. You were promised nothing, except that you would never see your very loved child again. Birthparents were also never offered any post relinquishment counseling in those days. THIS WAS NOT ABOUT BIRTHPARENTS.

As a 64 year old woman who has been in reunion for 27 years, written a book about the devastating loss of my child, and worked on the adoption reform movement for over 30 years, I completely support the right of every adoptee in this nation to know their complete identifying heritage, not just their medical history. Adoptees lost their own voice, as did most of their mothers, through the process of adoption and the decisions of others. They are held as a class separate from the rest of us, much like slaves were. I am shocked that this is not viewed as a civil rights issue and feel strongly that it should be. The success of the adoption reform movement has been too slow in accomplishing open records for all adoptees.

The most insulting argument is that the people opposing open records use birthmothers once again as the reason to keep records closed. They have the audacity to say that they speak for birthmothers. THEY DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME. And then fear mongering is added to the mix when they say open records will add to the number of abortions. The best argument against that position is that most current adoptions are open adoptions. The adoptions that need to be opened are the old ones, not the new ones.

One reason for the resistance to opening records may be that the people who created those records are very worried. A lot of the information recorded was flat out lies, told to both birthparents and adoptive parents. This is a very unfortunate fact of life, as the people who originally created those records thought that no one would ever uncover the inconsistencies. This is often uncovered when there is a reunion. In the era of closed records and closed adoption, a lot of people played God.

Support open records and open adoption!

Sent by Patricia Eileen Taylor | 9:10 PM | 11-18-2007

Adoptees who don't want their OBC to be opened do not have to apply for their OBC. It will remain sealed even if an OBC access bill passes in your state. However, some of us do want to have our right restored. And we pay attention to those in fringe organizations like the NCFA with their secrecy in adoption agenda who lobby our state legislatures to deny us that fundamental right.

Sent by Judy Kennett | 11:50 PM | 11-18-2007

I reunited successfully almost 20 years ago with both birth-parents, using a database we both voluntarily registered for. It has been a healing experience for both birth-parents and myself. Although scary for my parents who raised me, they saw that the reunion did not diminish my love for them.

Foremost, it is imperative to get medical history as this impacts my ability to get insurance to authorize early screening for some cancers that run in my family.

Secondly, I am enriched to have more family, as my adoptive family gets smaller (only child with older parents). Not only do I have wonderful relationships with my birth-parents and half-siblings, my kids have more cousins!

There is always room for more love in this world. Let the healing begin with open medical records at the very least.

Sent by Bella G. | 2:52 PM | 11-20-2007

Yes, please provide me with biological information about my birth parents. I was adopted in New York back in 1966, the year I was born. When I turned 40 years old about a year ago I began a very diligent search to only find that all roads come to a dead end. In the past 17 years I have placed two court order requests and both times that has been denied. I only hope that NY State enacts some legislative change before it is too late for me to enjoy the benefits.

Sent by Julie Hotmer Murphy | 3:19 PM | 11-20-2007

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is not alone in its belief that it's time to "tear down this wall" between adult adoptees and their identities. Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the largest social work organization in the nation advises: "The agency providing adoption services should support efforts to ensure that adults who were adopted have direct access to identifying information about themselves and their birth parents." The National Adoption Center: "The National Adoption Center believes that it is an inalienable right of all citizens, including adopted adults, to have unencumbered access to their original birth certificates." North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC): "NACAC supports access to original birth certificates to any adult adoptee at age of majority." R. David Cousineau, President and CEO of Holt International Children's Services, one of the oldest and most respected adoption agencies in the country: "It is the fundamental right of all individuals to have access to information about themselves. For adoptees, that includes access to their own birth records with the same equity as other individuals are entitled." Spence-Chapin of NY, another long-time and highly respected agency: "The agency believes that access to identifying information is the adult adoptee's right and that this access furthers the interests of all the members of the triad: adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents."

Back in the 1940s, the right of adoptees to their identities was seen by social workers as an absolute necessity. In a paper presented in 1946 at the National Conference of Social Work, Buffalo, NY, Grace Louise Hubbard, Supervisor of Intake, Child Placing, and Adoption State Charities Aid Association, said: "Every individual has a right to accurate and complete identification of himself, but he has also the right to understand his identity in its broadest meaning.... "A person who as a child was placed by a social agency in a foster-family home, whether for adoption or for permanent supervised care, is assured of a record of his origin and identity, and of a source of help in finding out not just what the record shows but what human experience lies behind it..... "A child's identity is his sacred right." Indeed. We lost a lot of time in the interim, but hopefully the dark days soon will be over.

Sent by Jo Anne Swanson | 1:16 PM | 11-21-2007

I have an adopted family. Both of my girls visit their birth families every year.

I believe the closed birth records were put in place to protect the adoptive families. At that time, we, as a society, wanted the birthmothers to forget. We wanted the adoptees to never feel separate from their adopted parents. We wanted the adopted parents to believe they were the "real" parents.

Unfortunately, birthmothers never forget, never.

Adoptees have no voice in the nature vs nurture debate, because they are missing 50% of the equation.

The hardest thing to learn is that we are all "real parents". Adopted and birth parents share the honorific of "parent". Each of us contributes equally to the whole of the individual who is our shared child.

We, the adoption triad, no longer need society's protection. We are capable of making these life decisions for ourselves.

Sent by Lauri - Concord, CA | 12:33 AM | 11-22-2007

Hi, there is an international reunion registry.
its called Isrr
www.isrr.net
everyone is welcome to sign up.
its a mutual consent registry
aunts,uncles,cousins,adoptees,birthparents,and grandaparents, all can sign up.
Joan
of
nyadoptees at yahoo

Sent by Joan | 11:48 PM | 11-24-2007

Hi, different states have different laws. So for search help, please visit:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nyadoptees
and
www.registry.adoption.com
and
www.isrr.net
print off the forms and mail them in.

Sent by Joan | 11:51 PM | 11-24-2007

Hi, keep your eyes open about the "OPEN RECORDS march in July 2008.

Joan

Sent by Joan | 11:55 PM | 11-24-2007

I'm sorry I entered this discussion so late. However, I am the parent of two children in open or at least "semi-open" adoptions.

I have never understood why opening adoption records is such a controversial issue for some. Even if all adoptees do not care or need this information, many adoptees do need it for either reasons of health or simply to satisfy an inward desire to find out about their biological families.

I don't know if I would elevate the right to this information to some kind of constitutional status, but I do believe there is no excuse or justification in 2007 for denying this information to all adoptees.

I applaud NPR for its show and I applaud the Evan Donaldson Institute for taking the position that it has. It would be nice in future shows to have an adoptee on your panel as well.

Sent by Mark | 8:54 AM | 11-27-2007

The public at large is grossly misinformed about birth mother "right to privacy" because many from the adoption industry are willfully embellishing and misrepresenting the facts.

Mothers, had NO LEGAL contracts for privacy and life long anonymity in place at the time of their children's relinquishments. There were no promises of anonymity, privacy statues, or promises of confidentiality made to anyone.

That is a fact.

There were NO CONTRACTS made on behalf of those of us who relinquished children to adoption at ANY time in history. If there were contracts made, I demand they be produced as a public record. You won't see them because NONE exist. I am weary of the adoption industry or those who stand to profit at the adoptee's expense using the tired and worn argument that mothers need to be protected. I am disgusted that some with agendas continue to use and manipulate the birth mother privacy argument as an attempt to hide the truth from the one person adoption was supposed to honor, the adoptee.

Since there were NO CONTRACTS made on my behalf, or any other mother's behalf, there are no legitimate reasons, records, original birth certificates should be kept from any adoptee.

Adult adoptees, like every other non-adopted citizen of this country, are owed very basic human rights. It's about each citizen being treated the same as the non-adopted citizen. A non-adopted person has the right to a copy of their original birth certificate. It is their right. It is discrimination not to give the adoptee that same right. It's about doing what is humanly right and just, and to end the archaic practice of keeping original birth certificates sealed. Opening records today for all adoptees is long overdue.

Opening records for all adoptees with unconditional and equal access, is about restoring birth rights.

Sent by Kathy Underhill aka Meagan787 | 1:21 PM | 11-29-2007

The evidence is absolutely overwhelming. Every human has an absolute right to their birth information and that right should be recognized in law. If you go to http://www.openadoption.org/bbetzen/apknow.htm you can see a series of posts made in 1998 by adoptees asked to write about "Things I Wish My Adoptive Parents Knew." It is a powerful set of replys that reinforce what you have read above.

Sent by Bill Betzen | 12:11 AM | 11-30-2007

I am now 39 years old. I looked for my birth parents for over 18 years and found my ENTIRE birth family on 12/26/06
To make a long story short. It was worth the 18 years of searching for countless hours...it was worth every minute!! Dont get me wrong there has been some negative things that happened after my find, but for the most part I have a great birth Dad and I always felt that I had a Brother and Sister and I was right!!

Every adopted person has different feelings of searching or NOT to search, but it should be our decision and NOT anyone elses. We (Adoptees) should have every right to our records and our true Identity's just like every other AMERICAN!!!! PERIOD.

Sent by Tim | 10:24 AM | 12-17-2007

Everyone that is an adoptee that commented here has expressed what every adoptee feels. Who am I. What or where did my family come from? What known medical problem that I don't have access to do I have or will I give to my children. I am 54 years old, born on an army base in South Carolina. My adoption was a private adoption that could be said to be sort of not on the normalcy of adoption. My biological mother was stationed, or so I was told, at Ft Jackson and was give the option to keep me or give me up for adoption. Year 1953. I was also told that 6 months later she tried to forward me Christmas, but the judge and attorney decided not to send it on. There was a doll in the box, so I was told. In the State of South Carolina, you are entitled to any non identifying information, but how do you get this information when there is none, such as social services, involved in the adoption? I have been searching since I understood what adoption meant (45 years) and I am still no closer now than then. My adoptive parents are gone now, wonderful parents whom I loved very much, no brothers and sisters and my mother's family never really excepted me because I was not blood.

See what the system can do to an adoptee. Some of us have always reached to find out where we belong and who we are.

Sent by linda carol lewis carter | 11:01 AM | 12-21-2007

I am a 71 year old adoptee. I have approached the courts of Illinois, Cook County, for the release of my "Original" birth certificate. Of course; To No Avail.

I was born in Chicago 1936, and within a few months placed into the care of St. Vincent DePaul Foundling Home. In 1941 I was adopted, and had wonderful adopted parents. When they both passed away, I began my search. Yhat was in 2000. As of today I have received no identifying information.

At my age I cannot understand what problems would be caused if my birth records were made known to me. All I want to know is what my birth sir-name is. That's All! I have no desire to try to meet my birth family, and I'm sure that being almost 72 years since I was discarded, no one remains.

I advocate any and all organizations that will fight to overturn laws that promote "Sealed Birth Records". My current fight is with Illinois.

Sent by David Heuvelman | 11:33 AM | 1-1-2008

I was born in VA in 1967 My family are indian. I was adopted by my foster parents when i was 6 my blood brother Donald was also adopted by the same family. Our adopted mother died when i was 11. My adopted father has been gone for at least 7yrs now both me and my brother has had some form of cancer we would like to know our medical background for us as well as our children and grand kids its hard to go through life not knowing and I seem to have abbandonment issues still at 40 its not right to take away my indian heritage just because i cant get a birth certificate to show indian heritage.

Sent by Lisa Carol Bonds Fisher Hines | 1:06 AM | 1-13-2008

I believe 100% that ALL adoptees and birthparents should be able to find out whatever they would like to know free of charge. There are several looking to know who belongs to who by birth. It should be up to the birth parent to have records sealed or not sealed!!! It seems that people search for their birth family and they get closed doors. How right is that??? I know of a birth child that is trying to open his sealed birth records, he can't, this has caused severe depression, thoughts of suicide. Wow people wake up.

Sent by purplerose | 8:32 AM | 1-17-2008

I am an adoptee,I do have my origianial obc from ny as my case worker gave a copy to my aparents to get me an dmy twin in school,I have non id, I know who my bm was Gloria schank/gloria sideratos.I am a part fo ten siblings all born in ny and all adopted from ny foundling.
What gets me is all teh yrs of asking for medical history they lied, 37 yrs they kept hidden my bm was mentally ill, my natrual grandmotehr died of a skin disease and now my sister has it, sarcoidioa,we suffered with thyroid problems.
Who gives tehr ight to withhold important information like that?My siblings don't even know i exsist, there missing out on knowing me and i am missing them, i have been searching for them for 5 yrs now, 22 yrs of basic searching,
my bm did not give me up, she walked out on me, abandoned me and my sister,she did not sign anything,the nyf could neevr find ehr so we were adopted in 1973,my older brother 1953 was 19 when iw as adopted,i so wnat to find him, heres all in order and all were adopted from ny foundling in manhattan ny
male 1953
male1954
female 1956
male 1957
femlae 1958
ok so now i am hoping they will post ehre, all adoptees should have legal right to all medical backround info as well as obcs,we are adults not babies and i'm tired of the nyf treating me like a "pound puppy" i'm a human being.
anyoen who thinks there related ,email me, nyadoptee67-at-yahoo.com

Sent by joanne | 12:04 PM | 3-28-2008

I am an adult adoptee whos been searching for 22 yrs, my bm Gloria Mary Schank aka Gloria Sideratos had children in Ny from 1953 through 1967,ten or more all together.Every child was left for adoption ,Ny Foundling handled the adoptions.
My bm was not well, I can understan dmental illness and give ehr crdit for carring each one of us to term an dnot aborting, what i don't firgive is teh way she just dumped us and walked away the way she did.My older sister carol born 6/5/59 was left in a box at a week old in frount of a church and a police man found ehr an dtook her to st. vincents hosp,seems bm had her at home and took ehr there for a checkup, she left teh bracelet on.My feternial twin sister and I were born at roosevelt hosp as c-sections and she walke dout while i suffered chicken poxs and pink eye.Ny foundling stepped in and took us ,they don't seperate twins but they seperated siblings,siblings who never kenw I exsisted and am still trying to find.I think all laws in ny concerning adoptees/siblings need to be changed, My sibs have every right in the world to know me, find me and talk with me.
I know genders and yrs thats it, no searchers who work for free will help me find them because it's a hard task, nobody I know has connections to fidn out and all I ever wanted was to talk to one of brothers.
in order- male 1953,male 1954,female 1956,male 1957, female 1958 bday we are poss sure of 6/23/58 and a brotehr 6/4/62.Ok so now I'm pleading, I need to find just oen brother, bm was irish and ger, short reddish hair blue eyes.
I feel sorry for my bm, she never sigend a thing for us, she could never be found, i spent 6 yrs in foster care till adoption in 1973,my older brother was close to 19 then.I want to know him, he needs to know me, If you were born in NYC, adopted from ny foundling, knew teh names of schanik or sideratos,please email me at nyadoptee67@yahoo.com.I'll gladly answear, pictre please and info you have so i can match. Change the laws for teh better ,stop treating adoptees as if they don't exsist,w e do, we are human beings.

Sent by joanne | 10:32 AM | 5-8-2008