OPEN RECORDS AND BIRTH PARENT CONFIDENTIALITY
Was the original birth certificate sealed to protect the identity of the birth mother?
NO! The original birth certificate is sealed when the adoption is finalized in court, not when the birth mother signs relinquishment papers. A child relinquished but never adopted has an unsealed birth certificate. If protection of the birth mother were intended, the original birth certificate would be sealed upon termination of her legal relationship to the child, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family. NOTE: Until quite recently, birth fathers have been largely ignored in the adoption process.)
Were there ever legal contracts between adoption agencies or private attorneys and birth mothers promising that the original birth documents of the adoptee would remain permanently sealed?
NO! Birth mothers signed irrevocable relinquishment forms, but there have been no contracts produced promising that an adoptee’s original birth record would remain sealed.
If such a contract were to be produced, would it be valid?
NO! One cannot create a binding contract that damages or burdens a third party without that party being fairly represented. In addition, the state is under no obligation to honor or uphold an alleged promise made between private citizens, most especially if that promise arguably violates a third party’s constitutional, civil, and human rights.
Do open records violate the rights of a birth mother?
NO! In a landmark decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit found that information concerning a birth is not protected from disclosure by the Federal Constitution, and that the right of privacy “does not extend so far as to encompass a general right to non-disclosure of private information.” (Doe v Sundquist, 1997 FED App.0051P)
Will open records allow adult adoptees to “harass” their birth mothers?
NO! It is unconstitutional to deny a right to a group of citizens based on what they “might” do if they were restored that right.
Are adult adoptees, reared by others, the enemies of birth parents?
NO! Our laws and policies should not deprive one group of their rights in order to protect others from possibly having to face the consequences of their past choices. In the event that an adoptee chooses to contact a birth parent, both people should consider the feelings and concerns of the other. When birth records are opened to adult adoptees, a woman who relinquishes an infant will have 18 to 21 years to decide how to answer a possible phone call from that adult child. Even today, with records still sealed in most states in the U.S., birth parents must consider their responses to being found, since a network of search consultants has arisen to circumvent sealed records. Most birth parents are happy to be contacted by their adult children. A right to privacy that prevents the disclosure of birth parents’ names to adult adoptees does not exist, in law or in the real world.