Organized opposition to adoptee rights represents the full range of political ideology in the United States, from the far-right Christian conservatism of Catholic Bishops and the Family Research Council to the left-liberalism of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The enemies of adoptee rights fall into two basic categories.
Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion organizations such as Right to Life oppose open records because they feel that access to, or frequency of, abortion will be affected by changes in the law. In fact, abortion rates do not increase in states and countries with open records. Abortion rates are not relevant to adoptee rights.
State chapters of the ACLU have used a tortured argument based on non-existent privacy rights that neither the general public nor legislators have taken very seriously.
The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) is a national organization employing full-time paid lobbyists who claim to speak for waiting children, adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. In reality, they speak for many of the major adoption agencies in this country. NCFA has a long history of opposition to adoptee access to their own records, and in fact was founded in 1980 by politically influential adoption agencies such as The Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas, specifically to lobby against records access and other challenges to the secret and closed adoption system. In recent years, NCFA has aligned itself with ultra-conservative organizations and individuals. It has taken funds from the Scaife Family Foundation and the Bradley Foundation, and its former president, Thomas Atwood, was previously with the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council and served as the Treasurer of Pat Robertson’s Presidential Exploratory team. In the last couple of years, under new leadership, NCFA has backed down from its traditional hardline stance and now promotes mutual access.
The adoption industry’s primary concern, however, is trade protection. In the years since Bastard Nation has shifted the discourse of adoptee rights from psychologically based pleas to straightforward assertions of civil rights, the rhetoric of the industrial opposition has shifted in reaction, revealing an honest apprehension of tort liability and systemic accountability. Remember, adoption is big business, and those who are involved in the business of adoption will always be looking out for themselves!
As ultraconservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council heavily promote adoption as a primary remedy to a gallery of perceived social ills, large constituency churches (including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,) and their auxiliary organizations including church oriented social service agencies and crisis pregnancy centers have entered the adoption industry to facilitate their theologically based social policies.
Other organizations that oppose open records are: The American Center for Law and Justice; The Christian Broadcasting Network; The American Life League; The National Right to Life Committee, The Christian Coalition; The Eagle Forum; The Family Research Council, and the Knights of Columbus. Increasingly we see special interest groups which have nothing to do with adoption use adoption to further their own agendas.
The opponents do not tell you what they are really afraid of:
- Open records will reveal a vast array of unsavory practices that adoption agencies and private individuals have practiced in the past when facilitating adoptions.
- Open records will scare away some prospective adoptive parents who are fearful of their adoptive children ever having any contact with their birth families.
Instead, the opponents substitute more “socially acceptable” excuses for keeping records sealed:
- Birth mothers were promised confidentiality from their children. Not true!
- Adult adoptees will return to sit on the doorsteps and stalk their birth mothers. Not true!
- Adoption is too sensitive an issue for adult adoptees to handle on their own. They need the assistance of “intermediaries” – social workers who will look at the original birth records and decide what information should be imparted to adult citizens who were adopted. Not true!
The opponents of open records want the states to maintain the status quo of secrets and lies.
Adult adoptees want the states to return the truth to their adopted adult citizens.