IDENTITY INFORMATION IS A MORAL RIGHT
When a child is legally adopted in much of the United States, the child’s original birth certificate is sealed, and a new amended birth certificate is issued. The amended birth certificate names the adopting parents as the biological parents of the child. The sealed original birth certificate becomes permanently inaccessible, even to the adoptee upon reaching adulthood.
The U.S. states that currently prevent adult adoptees from obtaining the original records of their births are among the last locations in the developed world that do not recognize the fundamental human right to one’s own identity information. The case for opening birth and adoption records to adult adoptees is very clear:
The state has a vested interest in protecting adoption as an institution. However, the evidence that opening records to adult adoptees does not harm adoption is very clear. Therefore, continuing an outdated system based on past ideas of shame and secrecy is morally wrong and violates the human rights of adult adoptees.
- All adults should have the same access to the government-held records of their births, whether adopted or not. Preventing adult adoptees from obtaining this information is discriminatory.
- The state should not be in the business of concealing basic, personal identity information from its own law-abiding citizens.
- The fundamental right of adoptees to have access to their own government-held identity information is a separate issue from whether or not adoptees and birth parents should contact each other.
- Adult adoptees and birth parents contact each other all the time, even in sealed records states. As competent adults, they are capable of negotiating their own relationships, if they choose to form them.
- The state should not block adults from their own birth documents in an attempt to prevent contact between two adult parties. In what other capacity does the state regulate contact between law-abiding citizens?
- There is no evidence that granting adult adoptees access to their own identity information is detrimental to the process of adoption.
- There is no evidence that granting adult adoptees access to their own identity information causes any increase in the rate of abortions.