Should adoptees have access to information about their birth parents?

Posted on: March 15th 2013

The debate continues as to whether adoptees should have access to information about their birth parents.  Some states are considering legislation which would allow adoptees access to their adoption records.  Adoption records are confidential and information cannot be released without a court order.  In this story (link below), Kathleen put her baby up for adoption in 1964 when she was 16.  The child was conceived by rape and abortion was illegal at the time.  Her biological child, Elaine, has located Kathleen who is now 65 and has a family and children of her own who never knew about the child or the adoption.  Kathleen does not want contact with Elaine.  There are compelling arguments on both sides of this issue—the right to privacy and the right to medical and genetic information, to biological identity.  Many studies show that adoptees benefit greatly from knowing their biological roots.  The question, of course, is whose rights are weightier.  One hopes that it’s possible to balance both of these rights.  Some proposed legislation would allow adoptees access to medical information with permission from birth parents.  Kathleen would then have the opportunity to decide whether she wants Elaine in her life or for her to have access to redacted medical information.  For the Kathleens who might have felt pressure to put a baby up for adoption when abortion was illegal, it would be an opportunity to connect with their biological child, an opportunity, I know, many birth parents would welcome.

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