THE HISTORY OF CLOSED RECORDS

I have researched the history of closed, sealed records of adoption. I printed down the “The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry Into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records” several months ago. I got it from the American Adoption Congress Website. I have read through several times. Most of the information that I get to put into my blog comes from this article. I have also gone to the Bastard Nation. Org web site and gotten a great deal of information from them. I have also verified all the information given by both of these two sites by going to the oppositions’ web pages and typed in adoption.

Something that needs to be made clear. Records were not closed initially to hide information from Adult Adoptees. It was done to hide the identity of birthparents from adoptive families. It was felt that birthparents would interfere in the forming relationships of the adoptive families. In this process, adoption records became closed to adoptees in mass confusion. It also must be said that birthparents also wanted confidentiality to protect them from public scrutiny not from their children. That confidentiality was never a guarantee. It could not be promised. At this time it was considered an impossibility. That is why there is no legal documents out there stating this. This is the prevailing attitude until the late 1950’s and the early 1960s. The states and their “advisors” tied the stigma of “illegitimacy” to adoption records. They did not want adopted children to face that issue. There were also laws retricting adoptees rights to their inheritance from both their adoptive and natural families. For the longest time, adoptive families could not get health insurance for the adoptive children because of the unknown backgrounds of their children. It must also be said that the records were sealed not at the relinquishment but at the actual adoption proceeding. It was later that society changed its position on adoptees searching. We became ungrateful and mentally ill for wanting to search for identity. This was done in the sixties.

Right now there is only five states that have unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. They are : Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, Oregon, and New Hampshire. In Tennessee, groups like the ACLU, ACLJ, NCFA, Pat Robertson, Planned Parenthood, and others tried to get the new Open Records Legislation repealed. The Courts determined that the right to privacy to mean protection from government intrusion. Open records don’t violate birthparents because there is no public disclosure. In Tennessee, there has been no contact vetos listed with the vital statistics clerk.

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