WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

I have been trying to understand this little privacy thing. I know in Texas that it is clearly defined as the right to be free from governmental interference. Three cases brought that issue up. Roe vs. Wade, Bowers vs. Hardwick, and Lawrence & Garner vs. Texas were those cases. These all involved sexual freedom within the home. The state of Texas doesn’t have the authority to regulate the sexual actions of consenting adults in the bedroom. Texas is very clear on it. In fact, Texans have special access to the information that the state has on them. In other words, they have access to documents that the government has. In their right to privacy laws, there is no distinct discrimination against adoptees. So I figured that I would check out my own birth state and a few others.

In May the Illinois ACLU put out this news alert. It is in response to HB4623 which is a vague adoptee access bill in itself. It states:

“Oppose HB 4623 (Feigenholtz)

HB 4623 Retroactively Threatens

Birth Parent Confidentiality through Insufficient Notice

Most proponents and opponents of HB 4623 agree that a change in confidentiality presumptions for

future births and adoptions raises no obvious civil liberties concerns. However, House Bill

4623’s retroactive nature threatens the confidentiality of birth parents who placed their biological

children up for adoption prior to 2008.

Current Law: Under current law, the identity of birth parents remains confidential – even as to

an adult biological child who was placed for adoption – unless the biological parent(s) and the adult

adoptee mutually consent (through filings with the Illinois Adoption Registry) to the exchange of

information, including their identities. In other words, both the birth parent(s) and adult adoptee

have to “opt in” for disclosure.

HB 4623’s Dramatic Change: House Bill 4623, as amended, would radically change this

balanced approach to retroactively allow the disclosure of the birth parents’ identity unless the

birth parent takes the affirmative step to file an objection to disclosure with the Illinois

Adoption Registry. Stated another way, the bill moves Illinois to a “opt out” of disclosure model.

HB 4623’s Retroactive Approach is Flawed Because:

¨ HB 4623 Provides Woefully Inadequate Notice: HB 4623’s notice provision is woefully

inadequate as it shifts the burden of protecting confidentiality to the birth parents with only a short

public information period to attempt to notify those affected by this significant change and, more

importantly, without any way to assure that individual birth parents learn of the change and

are made aware that in order to retain confidentiality as to their identity as birth parents, they need

to take steps to assure this.

¨ Actual Notice is Needed; NOT HB 4623’s Publication Notice: The proposed 6 month public

information campaign is too short and fails to assure actual notice of the change in the law to birth

parents, many of whom live out of state. A system that attempts “actual notice” is necessary to

respect and balance the competing interests.

¨ HB 4623 Breaches Constitutional Privacy Guarantees: HB 4623 breaches medical and

reproductive privacy, is contrary to Illinois constitutional privacy protections,1 and undermines

the assurances of confidentiality many birth parents historically received and relied upon at the time of

adoption.

¨ HB 4623 Extinguishes Expressed Privacy Upon Death: HB 4623 extinguishes a birth

parent’s affirmative selection of confidentiality upon his or her death, allowing the release of

medical information he or she chose to keep private.

¨ HB 4623 is an End-Run Around Current Confidential Intermediary Practices: Existing law

provides reasonable opportunities to allow adoptees to obtain medical information and to attempt to

reach out to their biological parents. HB 4623 is an end-run around the current law, which

requires the use of a confidential intermediary to contact and seek birth parents’ consent to the

release of information.

For further information contact:

Mary Dixon, ACLU of IL Legislative Director, at 815-483-1990 -or-

Jim Ferg-Cadima, ACLU of IL Legislative Counsel, at 312-925-9394 (5/6/08)

1 The Illinois Supreme Court has expressly held that the Illinois Constitution of 1970 affords a privacy interest in personal medical

information and records. Kunkel v. Walton, 179 Ill. 2d 519, 537 (1997) (“The confidentiality of personal medical information is,

without question, at the core of what society regards as a fundamental component of individual privacy.”).”

Looking over this bit, I can fully understand the HIPPA laws in this issue. No one has the right to the private medical files of another individual. I agree with that even. This so called “birthmother” confidentiality is way off. We are talking about a birth certificate here. I wanted to find out who exactly had access to birth certificates in Illinois for non adopted individuals.

Here is the list according to this website:

  • Of legal age (18 or an emancipated minor with certified court documentation) if requesting your own.
  • The mother or father (if listed on the certificate) of the child whose certificate is being requested.
  • A Legal Guardian with certified court documentation proving verification of guardianship.
  • An Agent having a Notarized letter from any of the above authorizing your access to the record.
  • A Legal Representative, i.e. an attorney acting on behalf of the person named on the Birth Certificate (must have authorized documentation).
  • An Agent authorized by power of attorney that specifically states that the record can be obtained.
  • An Agent approved by the State Registrar.
    Birth Certificates can be requested in person, through the mail, or online by using Illinois E-Pay.
  • If the certificate has been on file for 75 years or longer, anyone with a genealogical interest may have a non-certified copy of the certificate, stamped “for genealogical purposes only”.

So if the non adopted don’t have to ask their parent’s permission to access their birth certificate, why do adoptees? It is a document that accurately records their birth. Its obvious according to this website that the birth certificate belongs not just to the individual but to his or her parents. There has never been a document ever produced where this so called privacy was promised in any part of the United States.

In both Indiana and Illinois, there is laws that intentionally discriminate against adoptees. They literally set adoption in a different category unlike Texas. They grant special immunities and privileges in respect to adoption. In this, they are violating their own state constitutions. Interesting.

What is really interesting is that neither the adoptee nor the natural parents have access to this document. Another thing is that the natural parents relinquish their rights. They do not receive extra rights or protections. With familial privacy, abortion, contraception and parenting are all rights being protected. In adoption natural parents are relinquishing all rights to that child including privacy.

I don’t know how many mothers have stood up and spoken out against the sealed access system. I know it must be thousands. Reunions occur everyday without any of us needing it. Its now at a time where adoptees in this country need to prove their birth for citizenship purposes. Adoptees don’t always have access to the adoption records. To be honest, those belong to the adoptive parents. The OBC however does indeed belong to the person whose birth it records.

I really do not understand where these folks get their ideas from. The birth certificate primarily belongs to one individual. It doesn’t belong to the state, the adoption agency, nor the adoption attorney.

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