ADULT ADOPTEES’ BIRTH CERTIFICATES ARE PERMANENTLY SEALED
WHOSE RIGHT TO PRIVACY?
- Sealed records proponents claim that birth parents have a right to remain anonymous from their relinquished (now adult) children, and that this stems from the constitutional “right to privacy.” Generally, however, the courts have determined the right to privacy to mean protection of individuals from government intrusion, not the right of one individual to remain anonymous from another.
- Birth parents (or other family members as some legislators have claimed) should not have special rights. The right to privacy is not the same as a right to secrecy. No one has a constitutional right to anonymity from another person.
- Adoptees do not want special rights. They only want what everyone else can take for granted. They should be able to access their original state-held birth certificates in the same manner as all other adult citizens.
- It’s really adoptees’ rights to privacy that are being violated. An original birth certificate belongs to the person whose history it records. It does NOT belong to that person’s parents.
- OBC access does not violate a birth parent’s privacy rights because there is no public disclosure. Only the adoptee whose birth occasioned the creation of the original birth certificate would have access to it.
- The original birth certificate was not sealed to protect the identity of the birth parent. The original birth certificate is sealed upon the decree of adoption, not upon the birth parent’s relinquishment. If protection of the birth parent were intended, the original birth certificate would be sealed upon termination of her ior his legal relationship to the child, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family. Even today, with records still sealed in most states in the U.S., birth parents must consider their responses to being found, since anonymity could never be guaranteed.
- Birth parents give up their legal relationship with their children when they sign irrevocable relinquishment documents. The state must not allow birth parents to reappear decades later and make encumbrances upon the civil and human rights of adult adoptees.
- Only a tiny handful of birth parents want to conceal their identities from their children. Their possible embarrassment does not outweigh the civil and human rights of millions of U.S. citizens to their identity and to equal protection under the law.
- There is no real conflict of interest between birth parents and adoptees. The apparent conflict is a creation of the opposition to OBC access, primarily a section of the adoption industry, which fears its past misdeeds coming to light and of special interest groups who use adoption secrecy to promote their own agendas which have little or nothing to do with adoption.