Monday, December 31, 2007

ILLINOIS: Grand Opening! Illinois Open




Illinois Open advocates the issuing to all Illinois adult adoptees, upon request an unconditionally, a copy of their unaltered original birth certificate.

Illinois Open is an informational organization. Its goals are to educate the public about sealed records as well as locate grassroots supporters of equal access to the original birth certificate for all adopted men and women in Illinois.

Currently, the only way adopted adults in Illinois can receive a copy of their original birth certificate is by petitioning the court and showing good cause, a lengthy, costly, and time consuming process.

Illinois Open is asking the State of Illinois to repeal or amend its Adoption Act so that all adopted adults can get their original birth certificate in the same manner as all non-adopted citizens.

We want to hear from you.

Please write to us at:

Visit our Myspace Page

Sunday, December 30, 2007

UNITED STATES: The Ethicist--Seminal Revelation, December 30, 2008

Our Baster Nation comrades are also denied the right of heritage and identity. I will include articles about their activities, too.

December 30, 2007

The Ethicist
Seminal Revelation

My fiancé received a letter at his office from a woman claiming to be the product of his sperm donation nearly 20 years ago. Her stated intention was to receive medical information, something he would willingly provide, but she strongly implied that she desired more, and he does not wish further contact. Was it ethical of her to obtain his name and business address? Must he reply? — name withheld, Portland, Ore.

Your fiancé is right to provide pertinent medical information to this young woman. The consequences to her of not having it could be dire. One way he might respond — while, quite reasonably, deterring further contact — is to have the clinic where he made his sperm donation give her only the medical information and nothing else. If the clinic is uncooperative or, after 20 years, no longer extant, he can proceed via some other middleman — a lawyer, for example.

There is nothing wrong with this woman’s contacting him or with her resourcefully tracking him down. She made no promise not to. It would, of course, be wrong for the clinic to assist her in that effort if it guaranteed your fiancé anonymity. Such promises can be an effective way to encourage sperm donors, who provide a service much valued both by couples having trouble conceiving and by single women eager to start a family.

While this woman may propose closer contact, your fiancé need not acquiesce. He, too, has a say in the matter. While parents have ethical obligations to their children, especially their young children, parenthood is not defined merely by a genetic connection.

UPDATE: The fiancé, now husband, instructed the clinic to provide the woman with medical information but to disclose nothing further about him. The clinic insisted that it had not given out his contact information. It warned him about the possibility of a nonrelative trying to scam a putative parent, a scheme it has encountered before.

Link to article

Saturday, December 29, 2007

IDAHO: Idaho Senator Slams LDS Adoption Agency, December 29, 2007

DESERET MORNING NEWS, December 29, 2007
Idaho senator slams LDS adoption agency

By Amy K. Stewart

AMERICAN FORK — An Idaho state senator says an LDS adoption agency is solely to blame for the fiasco involving a set of adoptive parents in American Fork and a birth mother and birth father in Idaho.

"I think LDS Family Services bears the responsibility of this tragedy. It is their fault," said Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R- Hayden Lake, in an interview with the Deseret Morning News.

Jed and Cally Nielson have had 6-month-old Harvey since July. The birth father, Matt Tenneson, 20, of Coeur d'Alene, is suing for custody. An Idaho judge recently ruled Tenneson should have primary custody. The Nielsons are fighting the ruling.

The Idaho senator says he believes LDSFS should have made more of an effort to contact the birth father before going through with the adoption.

However, LDSFS acted according to Idaho and Utah law, agency officials say.

"LDSFS followed the statute and did everything they were required to do," said LDSFS attorney David McConkie.

But that is the whole problem, Jorgensen says. What is required isn't enough. And the law needs to be changed, he says.

Jorgenson plans to co-sponsor a bill that will "beef up" regulations for private adoption agencies.

Two other Idaho legislators are studying the Nielson case and may soon weigh in on Jorgensen's proposal.

Meanwhile, two Utah legislators are proposing adoption laws for the 2008 session. One bill would make it easier for adoptees to find their birth parents. The other aims to clarify adoption law details.

Utah and Idaho law requires a private adoption agency to check the putative father registry before placing a baby with adoptive parents.

A putative father is a man who may be the child's biological father but who is not married to the child's mother on or before the date of the child's birth and has not established his paternity through legal proceedings. This registry is the birth father's declaration stating that he is the father and that he wants paternal rights.

LDSFS checked the Idaho registry. Tenneson's name was not on the list, according to LDSFS officials.

However, the Nielsons' attorney, Larry Jenkins, with Wood Crapo LLC, of Salt Lake City, says LDSFS isn't to blame for the Nielsons' woes. "The law even says it's the father's responsibility to take action," Jenkins said. "It provides the father an opportunity."

Jorgenson says he believes simply checking the registry isn't enough. "I absolutely feel LDSFS should have done more," he said. "They should have contacted the birth father."

LDSFS officials say that requiring a private adoption agency to contact the birth father could open up a can of worms. For example, some women don't know who the father of their baby is. Sometimes the father is married to someone else. In other situations, the birth mother has no contact with the birth father due to abuse issues.

"There is a lot to consider," says Cally Nielson. "They (private adoption agencies) have to respect the privacy of the birth mother and birth father."

Idaho Reps. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, and Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, say they plan to examine the Nielson issue.

A point of controversy is Idaho Magistrate Robert Burton's initial ruling that said Tenneson has some parental rights — despite the fact Tenneson didn't sign the putative family registry in the required time period.

McGeachin said, "Are there areas of Idaho law that need to be tightened?"

Shirley says he believes it's not an issue with the law but rather the judges interpreting the law. "It seems to me the problem lies with the interpretation of the courts — not the Legislature," he said.

Meanwhile, two potential adoption laws are coming down the pipeline for the Utah Legislature.

Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, is creating a bill that would allow adoptees to actively seek their birth parents. Right now adoptees and birth parents can sign up with a registry if they wish to find each other. An agency matches them up.

Sumsion wants to allow the adoptee to petition the court, which would then assign an intermediary to search court records and find out if the birth parents are alive. If they are alive, the intermediary can contact them and ask if they would like to be contacted by their birth child.

The yet-to-be-filed bill states a birth child must be 30 or older to begin the court searching process, to ensure a maturity level.

Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, has a bill that she said came at the suggestion of the Utah Adoption Council. The council is a nonprofit group consisting of adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, agencies and community groups supportive of adoption.

Allen's proposed legislation, HB46, Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights, clarifies wording and modifies the current law.

There are three highlights. First, the bill proposes aiding adoption agencies in gaining access to vital records, such as birth certificates. "It expedites it," she said.

Second, the bill states if a parent is incarcerated for more than one year for a felony, this fact can be considered in regards to whether a parent is unfit. Currently, the law applies only to children who are in state custody. The revised law would include children who are staying with relatives.

Third, the law puts further criteria on what an adoptive parent can give to a birth mother. It forbids gifts or payments above what is normal or reasonable, such as legal and medical expenses.

"We are trying to ensure selling a baby is not encouraged in any way," Allen said, adding it's not a widespread problem, but there is room for abuse.

Alluding to Idaho Magistrate Burton's ruling, Allen said she wants Utah law to be as close to "crystal clear" as possible so it would be "harder for a judge to misinterpret the statue."

Allen's bill has passed the Health and Human Services Standing Committee.

© 2007 Deseret News Publishing Company | All rights reserved

Link to article

NEVADA: Commentary--Adoptees Should See Birth Records

December 28, 2007

Commentary: Adoptees should see birth records

By Cully Ray

On November 12, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute published a report regarding the issue of adult adoptees having access to their birth records. For years, opponents of allowing adopted adults access to their original birth certificates have falsely stated that doing so would violate the confidentiality that was promised their birth-mothers and put birth parents in compromising situations. Confidentiality, whether it actually was promised or simply implied, could not be guaranteed, and in fact, no paperwork has been found in any state with a written guarantee of confidentiality to birth parents.

There are eight states that allow adult adoptees access: Tennessee, Oregon, New Hampshire, Delaware, Alabama, Kansas, Alaska,

and, beginning in 2009,

Maine. Kansas and Alaska always have allowed adult adoptees access and have lower abortion rates than the national state average. Massachusetts enacted a bill that grants access to the years before birth certificates were sealed and to adoptees born on or after January 1, 2008.

I was born, adopted, and live in Nevada. In 2004, I petitioned the court to have my original birth certificate and adoptions records released to me. My petition was granted, but the fact is that I should never have had to petition the court. I am not a felon, I do not have a record of questionable behavior, nor have I ever been convicted of a crime.

Adult Adoptee Access to birth records is not about reunion, though that can and does happen. Adult Adoptee Access to birth records is about equal human rights for all citizens. To deny a particular segment of the citizenry any such right is wrong. Here in America it is believed to be so wrong that we have laws against it.

I urge all Nevada citizens to read the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Report ( and to take into consideration what other organizations have said:

Child Welfare League of America: "The agency providing adoption services should support efforts to ensure that adults who were adopted have direct access to identifying information about themselves and their birth parents."

R. David Cousineau, President and CEO of Holt International Children's Services: "We have placed more than 40,000 children with adoptive families...It is the fundamental right of all individuals to have access to information about themselves. For adoptees, that includes access to their own birth records with the same equity

as other individuals are entitled."

Spence-Chapin of NY: "The agency believes that access to identifying information is the adult adoptee's right and that this access furthers the interests of ... adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents."

The NAC: "The National Adoption Center believes that it is an inalienable right of all citizens, including adopted adults, to have unencumbered access to their original birth certificates."

Let's leave the era of secrets, shame, and lies that damaged so many innocent lives. Children are a blessing, and no child should grow up to be held suspect and denied their basic human rights because of the circumstance of their birth.

Cully Ray is the American Adoption Congress representative in Nevada.

Link to article

Friday, December 28, 2007

INTERNATIONAL/LEBANON: Re-Evaluating Adoption : validating the local

Re-evaluating Adoption: Validating the Local
by Daniel Drennan

Re-evaluating Adoption: Validating the Local
by Daniel Drennan

After it was reported that a French NGO named Arche de Zoé had attempted to airlift a planeload of children out of Chad for adoption in France, Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, stated:

"This is not something that should be tolerated by the international community. It is unacceptable to see children taken out of their home countries without compliance with national and international laws."

Her outrage unfortunately reflects a one-sided worldview concerning adoption today. It can be traced back to Pearl S. Buck and other advocates from the middle of last century who saw in international adoption a "saving grace" for children around the globe. This sentiment, echoed in Arche de Zoé's mission statement, has always served as an excuse to use "orphans" as props, backdrops, and camera fodder. Operation Babylift, the post-Vietnam War media relations effort of the United States government, attempted to give Americans a positive spin on its role in the war. Unwitnessed, however, were distraught Vietnamese mothers, tearfully separated from their children who were forced onto waiting airplanes for transport overseas. Adoption's current vogue due to Hollywood celebrity public relations campaigns, which date back to the days of Joan Crawford, exemplifies but one of its more cynical manifestations. More recently, an article in New York magazine basically asks parents to quantify the unquantifiable: the love they have for their adopted children. These examples, including the statement from UNICEF, likewise reflect only one side of the debate: namely that of the adoptive parent, couple, and country.

This perception focuses solely on the unique instance of adoption as beneficent act; viewed only by itself, out of context, this is perhaps an inarguable truth. Yet individual adoption is deceptively marketed and packaged around this humanistic aspect. It mistakenly presupposes a globally valid nuclear family, as well as a concept of Third-World deliverance coming in individual doses from the developed regions of the world; it extols the child as now "better off," or "lucky," or "chosen." It depicts adoption as better than nothing and proclaims that little can be done on an individual level to change the global situation. Adoption can thus be seen to fulfill certain needs of dominant global culture, not just those of parents wishing to start a family, and focuses on children who are (perhaps ideally) least capable to speak for themselves.

These arguments, however, do not hold up to scrutiny and raise more questions than they answer. At the general level, the idea that nothing can be done to effect change in the world is self-deceiving and reflects a willful ignorance of the sacrifices required to make that change: the standard of living of the First World comes at the expense of the Third World; and there are things that could be done to greatly alleviate if not eliminate poverty in the world today if the collective will to do so, which would require change in the standard of living of the First World, existed. More specifically, even if we accept the premise that adopting children lifts them out of poverty or "saves" them, it is possible to argue that another First-World consumer in fact makes things worse on a global scale. To further deliberate: adoption on the international level creates a "demand" for orphans that is answered by Third-World countries and the agencies that serve them with a "supply" of children; it is problematic to bring a foreign-born child into a non-multi-cultural environment; individualistic, nuclear family-based cultures undo other more community-based cultures. Do we simply deny that baby theft and brokering exist? Is it not paradoxical that underclass children in First-World societies go unadopted, often for racist and ageist reasons? What aberrant First-Worldist rationale allows for the adoption of Third-World children, while forbidding adults from these same Third-World countries to emigrate, or while deporting those already present back to their home countries?

Extending this logically: does the Caribbean immigrant nanny in New York City (ironically perhaps tending to a Third-World adopted infant while far from her own family) not have the same rights as the mother she serves? As the Chadian village that has been convinced that there is a "better life" elsewhere for its children? As the adopted child who never asked to grow up in an alien and often alienating culture? Do they all have nothing to say because there is no equality of stature, no parity of action available to them, no ability to travel to Europe or America to select a white baby for themselves, no recognition of their way of life as valid, because they have no privilege and are exploitable? Should the world become suddenly egalitarian, all children given a place in their respective communities if not families, what would childless couples do then?

It is obvious why no one hears this side of the argument. The truth stings, and we recoil in the face of it, as when listening to news reports of the recent scandal from Chad; or when I hear a mother state of her daughter adopted from a former Soviet republic: "Of course I bought my baby!"; or when I stare at the check that my orphanage in Lebanon "accepted" as a gift from my parents; or when I realize that all of the names on my documentation that might link me to a birth family are completely falsified.

The blind eye turned to this bigger picture naturally overlooks the reality of adopted children's lives. Those who spent years in my orphanage remember being told that some parents-cadeaux (gift-parents) were coming to "choose a lucky child." We are chastised that we should stop searching for something that cannot be ours. For many here, we are "les enfants du peché" -- the children of sin -- and are not welcome, or else we are grudgingly received with grating platitudes. This article will tar me as an ungrateful adoptee, which is the furthest thing from the truth. None of the above monological attitudes take into consideration the thoughts, feelings, or needs of the very subjects of their so-called advocacy. They are meant to deflect questioning and derail criticism, while disparaging non-First-World views concerning adoption. They place adopted children in an existential limbo which is unjust, uncharitable, and ignoble.

Many of us recall being informed that we are fortunate since adoption is not allowed "among the Muslims." To those who are raised believing in the supremacy of the couple and child(ren)-based social unit, the very idea of growing up in an orphanage, with no "family," or otherwise under "guardianship," is unfathomable, if not horrifying. Since moving back to Lebanon three years ago, I have realized that the Qur'anic invocation concerning adoption has everything to do with children maintaining their lineage, their name, and their place in the community. Most remarkable then is the fact that these very concepts -- of lineage, name, appearance, and original community -- are the issues that most plague adult adoptees. So it should come as no surprise that those who find their birth parents -- for example, as documented in the film, Daughter of Danang, or the recent Reader's Digest article entitled "The Lost Princess" -- are often welcomed "home" by a village and not just a single family, in a complete reversal of their original trip to their adoptive land. This has been most astonishing for me in Lebanon, in terms of who has extended their community to me, beyond any preconceived expectations, much less familial or communal ties. There can be no feigning shock that the willful and deliberate misunderstanding of family and community should result in this most recent African scandal and the protests it begets, or that those destined for so-called salvation should be the ones who suffer most.

Many of the adoptees from my orphanage share one desire: the honest truth and an open discussion of their earliest days. This is where the original spin meets on-the-street reality, and it is a violent and unendurable encounter. Coming back to Lebanon has been nothing if not a rude awakening, and if I am no longer looking for my birth parents it is because I see in this search a selfish act, living now as I do in a place with an unimaginable poverty level and a political situation that is unstable to say the very least. Searching is thus a luxury, and I have let it go; comparatively speaking, I have nothing to complain about: what I have discovered regarding the abandonment and adoption of all of us who were processed through the orphanage in Beirut is too terrible to bear sometimes. I am loathe to hear questions from adoptees starting their search here, because I have little but heartbreak to extend to them. To continue to view adoption in its previous mythologised and romanticized manner has for many of us become insufferable, if not impossible.

At the same time, I am daily witness to endless First-World interference here on the political, cultural, and economic level and so can't help but make the logical leap to add adoption to a long list of injustices perpetrated from without. And I add my voice to those from the other side of the adoption myth, from fellow adoptees and the communities they come from, who now demand that the chance to critique be afforded those most justified to speak, yet most silenced. To quote an African Union missive in response to the recent events in Chad, there exists a lack of "dignity and respect" on the issue that is but a continuation of how the First World has historically viewed and treated the rest of humanity. The focus concerning adoption needs to shift from parent to child, from First World to Third. It is time to discuss international adoption openly and honestly, in order to be fair to all those affected by it. It is time to speak about the trafficking of the most fragile and defenseless of humans. It is time to speak about the hypocrisy that ignores the ever-growing gap between the First and Third Worlds and the terrible abuse of the current power imbalance between them -- a continuation of a sordid history in which the poor, the nether, the "uncivilized" portions of the planet serve as source material to be plundered, exported, and sold.

In naming their organization "Arche de Zoé" -- a play on the French for "Noah's Ark" -- we can see this age-old romanticism and arrogant interference semantically revealed: there are children saved, and the rest -- the unfortunate children of sin -- damned to their fate. This NGO and by extension the First World thus play God, with disastrous results. This missionary idea condemns people to their given status without considering it a direct function of the vagaries of international economic, political, and cultural systems put in place by the First World at the expense of the Third. We must acknowledge what international adoption represents, and what its consequences are, not just locally or individually, but globally and in terms of our shared humanity. To simply accept one perspective of adoption, one that doesn't give voice to adoptees and those of their places of origin simply because it validates our sense of self, is morally and ethically untenable.

Long after this story dies down, and Angelina Jolie and Madonna are out of the news, and the millionth casting call for Annie takes place, it is the children as well as their original communities who still have to live with and process what has happened to them. I would restate Ms. Veneman’s statement thus:

"It is unacceptable to see children taken out of their home countries."

Period. This admission, this truly local starting point, might hopefully shift the attention of adoptive parents beyond the children they have welcomed into their families to the world far outside their homes; a shift, by extension, from the North to the South, from the First World to the Third. It might also allow us to see, acknowledge, and validate for the first time the "world family" we are thus connected to. Most telling in the Arche de Zoé affair is the difference between the protest against the actions of this NGO in terms of "international law" and the outcry of a different kind that is directed against the received wisdom, the salvationist sentiment itself: a protest that seeks to address issues of globalization, world politics, local cultures, and international economics, directly challenges the prevailing notions of presumed universalist culture, rightly puts adoption back into context, and thus requires much more of us all in terms of good will, altruism, and selflessness.

To admit this, to shift perspectives, to recognize the other's viewpoint, would allow those of the developed world to understand what this most recent scandal represents to those they share the planet with, and would reveal that in the spectrum of adoption it is impossible to separate what deserves outrage from what does not; the application of make-up to Chadian children in an effort to literally paint them as Darfour refugees in preparation for their kidnapping from Africa is just one end of the spectrum, one manifestation of problems systemic to a First-World view of things. When voice is given to all concerned, when the discussion is finally and honestly balanced, only then will adoption no longer be tainted with the lingering remnants of an unjustly divided world.

Daniel Drennan was originally born in Beirut, and has lived most of his life in the United States. He has recently returned to Lebanon, and is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the American University of Beirut. His article entitled "Brand America: Of False Promises and Snake Oil" was published on the Electronic Intifada: Lebanon web site. He maintains a diary concerning life in Lebanon at

Link to article

MINNESOTA; Letter: Your Turn--Opening Records is Ill-Advised, December 17, 2007

ST. CLOUD TIMES, December 17, 2007
Your turn: Opening records is ill-advised

By Patricia A. Krueger, St. Cloud

I am writing in response to Rep. Kathy Tingelstad's Your Turn about proposed changes in adoption records access. ("Minnesota needs to restore rights of adopted people," Dec. 1)

Her suggestion seems to be that formerly closed records should now be completely open, without regard for the original circumstances. While she may be well meaning, I disagree. This should be unnecessary, and may possibly be harmful to individuals and families.

We do agree on some basic concepts. It is not difficult to understand the need for an adopted person to want or need genetic and medical information about families of origin. Curiosity about one's birth parents is also understandable and should be accommodated.

However, I believe that some societal forces have encouraged adoptees to focus on the loss of that original connection as a serious deficiency. Stories that emphasize such feelings turn up as entertainment more than news items. A sense of alienation, inadequacy, lack of confidence and self-esteem can be fostered by well-intended people who suggest adoptees are incomplete people and remiss if they don't want to "find out who they are."

Non-adoptees are seldom encouraged to feel that who they are is more a product of their parents than their own personality and abilities. Still, the eventual location of birth parents can bring closure. It is common for adopted children to fantasize about birth parents.

I recall times when "birth mom" was held up as an enchanting alternative to "enforcing mom" at home. This is different than what might happen at a later age, when contact with the birth family might help answer questions.

The process of locating birth family should be as easy as possible. As an adoptive parent, I encourage my two adopted children to make that search when and if they are comfortable. I will help them.

An important fact that Tingelstad did not mention is that many reunions already happen on a regular basis here in Minnesota.

It is already possible to launch a search for family of origin members, but a facilitator is required. This person will gather the information — if it exists — and provide it to the petitioner. An actual meeting is not arranged until both parties agree. In most cases, that happens when desired — and ends well. A facilitator can prepare the way and properly orient those involved so that the reunions are more likely to be successful. (A surprise visit is much more likely to result in rejection and disappointment than one that is arranged.)

However, in the past, many birth mothers relinquished babies for reasons we should never judge. They were promised privacy. Many may have families whom they have never told about this chapter in their life, and they are afraid of the reactions. They also may hope to be reunited with the child, but under current policy can be assured that someone will contact them with news about that child's interest in reuniting. Thus, they may prepare, even seek assistance, for what can become a healthy and beneficial meeting.

In other cases, adopted children fear the arrival of a birth parent. This legislation usually works both ways. Some adoptees are concerned about a disruption in their lives caused by a person who seeks a relationship they may not desire. Again, current law makes a reunion possible, but only with facilitation and the ability for both parties to make choices.

Tingelstad characterizes adoption practices as only parent focused. Because of my extensive involvement with Children's Home Society & Family Services, I can assure her — and everyone — that for many decades they have been overwhelmingly child centered.

The ability of a woman to make an adoption plan 40 years ago often prevented tragic circumstances for children and the parent. Times have changed, but a promise that may have lead to the adoption decision must be kept.

This is the opinion of St. Cloud resident Patricia Krueger, a director emeriti of Children's Home Society & Family Services.

Link to article

MISSOURI--Missouri Adoptees Hope for Better Records Law; families hope to gain more rights, December 13, 2007

December 13, 2007

Missouri adoptees hope for better records laws: families hope to gain more rights
By Hugh S. Welsh/

For adoptees born in Missouri, getting a passport can be stroke-inducing - literally.

"I've heard horror stories about people dropping dead after getting turned down for passports, because their amended birth certificate says their adoptive father gave birth to them," said Marilyn Waugh, who works in Kansas' adoption records department and is the director of the Adoption Concerns Triangle in Kansas, "or, if the adoptees' adoptive mother is significantly younger than the adoptive father, then the adoptee's mother could appear to be 8, 10 or 12 years old when she gave birth; this reads like a false form of identification."

In Missouri, adoptees cannot obtain a copy of their original birth certificate or adoption record.

For some people, this represents an infringement of constitutional rights. For others, the inability to identify birth parents is a detriment to their health.

Such was the concern of Waugh's birth daughter, whom Waugh gave up to adoption in Kansas when she was young.

As it turned out, a genetic disease existed in Waugh's family tree, Ehlers-Danlos Type 4.

Waugh's niece had been diagnosed with the disease, which is caused by a defect in collagen synthesis and is treatable. In the case of Waugh's niece, the severity of the disease ultimately claimed her life.

Waugh had already been sought out by her birth daughter and the two had been in regular contact. So, when Waugh learned the news, all she had to do was pick up the phone.

"I can only imagine what it would be like for birth mothers who cannot get a hold of their adopted child when it really matters," Waugh said.

After undergoing extensive testing at the KU Medical Center, Waugh and her birth daughter came back negative for the disease.

Waugh has been working diligently over the past decade to see that Missouri implement an open-record policy for adoptees as Kansas did in the 1950s.

Kansas allows adoptees to obtain adoption records and original birth certificates when they reach the age of 18. Kansas is one of just eight states with such a policy.

Missouri is among a handful of states - including Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado - considering similar legislation. Beginning in 2009, Maine will become the ninth state to have open records for adoptees.

In Kansas, all an adoptee has to do to obtain a certified copy of their original birth certificate is write his or her name at birth and check yes on two boxes: one asking if he or she has been adopted, the other asking if he or she is requesting the birth record before adoption.

The request for an adoption record is every bit as easy, requiring completion of a one-sided sheet of paper asking for basic personal information and a dated signature.

According to Waugh, the state gets more than 500 requests for adoption records every year.

She said Kansas does not allow birth parents to decline contact with their adopted children, which is one of the most pressing issues facing open records for adoptees.

At present, Oregon is the only state where a birth parent can opt to check a box refusing future contact with his or her child.

Opponents to open records argue that abortions would skyrocket if such a policy was established in Missouri.

Thomas Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, recently said the following on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation":

"What I would say, for some women, is that they won't choose adoption unless they can choose it confidentially. What is that number? I don't know. But it clearly has a micro or personal effect."

Waugh, a reunited birth mother herself, has a different opinion.

"I believe every state would benefit from an open-record policy toward adoptees," Waugh said. "There's nothing shameful about giving your child to someone better equipped to love and care for that child; virtually all adoptees I've ever met are thankful for the decision made by their birth parents."

Link to article

Thursday, December 27, 2007

YEMEN: Foundlings--Citizens Without an Identity, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007

Foundlings: Citizens Without an Identity
by Yemen Times Staff

While there are very few foundlings in Yemen, those in this category face legal issues regarding their identity. A report by Azya’a Al-Amri and Rashida Al-Ziyadi.

Foundlings typically are children abandoned, almost always by their mothers, soon after birth. While there’s rarely any intention that the child should die, the mother usually is in such a mental state that she can’t act rationally or in such a position that she is – or feels unable to – approach social services for help.

Such children usually are left somewhere such as a hospital or on a doorstep, where they’ll be found soon. This sets them apart from feral children (where the loss usually is accidental, although some may be abandoned deliberately), from captives, those stolen from their families and those deliberately exposed with the intention that they should die.

“One jailed woman beggar had been renting a house from a local sheikh on the outskirts of Taiz governorate. She told us she gave birth to an illegitimate child after her landlord raped her. She made a complaint to the court that the landlord had raped her and she shouldn’t be jailed with her child,” recounts Ishraq Al-Maqtari, manager of the Legal Protection and Support Project (LPSP), a local NGO.

“This phenomenon [of foundlings] is spreading within fragmented communities, such as marginalized peoples (known as the Akhdam), while prisons have become common places for the availability of foundlings due to the cases of adulteresses, whom we defend in court,” she explains, adding, “Most jailed women are pregnant with illegitimate babies to be added, following delivery, to the other ones available in jails.”

Because Yemen is an extremely conservative society, women who have babies after committing adultery often leave them on the street or in other places out of fear of censorship by their society. Such babies sometimes are left in the garbage after being killed, as was the case in one Sana’a neighborhood where police found a newborn wrapped in a plastic bag next to a garbage bin. The day-old child had been stabbed in the head.

The main problem with being a foundling is that it is a child without an identity, meaning that it carries no family’s surname, such as Al-Mutawakil, Al-Harazi, etc. In Yemen, foundlings simply are given generic names like Mohammed or Ahmed, but no surnames. Consequently, these children lose their relationship with their own family and community because, according to experts, foundlings are expected to deviate from their family, so society disowns them.

According to Yemeni legislation, if a father disowns his child, that child then will be related to his or her mother. This usually happens as a result of divorce and breaking the marital relationship.

If the mother insists that the child is hers, he or she will be related to her family. However, some families refuse to allow disowned children to take their family surname; thus, the mother’s relatives go to the Yemeni government’s Citizenship Authority and register the child with a surname other than theirs.

Employees at the Citizenship Authority sometimes complicate this registration process because, by law, the father – not the mother – is responsible for registering a child. But if the father is absent, the process becomes more complicated.

Col. Abdulaziz Al-Sa’afani, manager of the Legal Affairs Department at the Civil Status Authority in Sana’a, maintains that the 1991 Citizenship Law, which hasn’t been amended up until now, doesn’t contain clear or adequate details regarding foundlings and their issues. He notes that a special committee within the authority suggested amending the law, even forwarding it to the Interior Ministry for approval, but it has yet to be received back.

However, attorney Khalid Al-Shamiri doesn’t believe the Citizenship Law offers a good solution to foundlings’ issues, commenting, “Such a phenomenon is continuous and will continue because we can’t deny its existence, be its causes domestic or international. If we discuss foundlings’ issues from a legal viewpoint, we’ll find that the law doesn’t discuss the issue adequately, thereby leaving the problem unsolved.”

Asked how the problem of foundlings’ identities can be resolved, religious scholar Abdurrahman Qahtan replies, “Foundlings can be given common names such as Mohammed, Abdullah, Abdurrahman or Naji for males, according to many reputable books on legislation and jurisprudence. Those who adopt a foundling can tell him or her that his or her parents died in an accident, for example, after which they then adopted and raised him or her to be their child so that the foundling won’t feel any inferiority.”

Additionally, Qahtan notes, “Citizens may obtain identity documents for any adopted child by summoning two witnesses to appear in court and testify that they adopted and raised the foundling.”

Al-Sa’afani further explains, “The legal procedures are easier for a foundling than for one with parents, particularly as the Citizenship Law states that a Yemeni citizen either is one whose parents both are recognized; whose mother is a Yemeni citizen but his or her father is unidentified or whose parents both are unidentified,” noting that, “A foundling may obtain citizenship and birth documents immediately and easily and there’s a legal article to support this.”

He adds that the law states that Citizenship Authority staff aren’t entitled to indicate on a birth certificate that someone is a foundling and that the spaces for filling in the parents’ names should be left blank. Rather, a foundling should be given three generic names implying no difference or discrimination in the eyes of others, as well as not indicating that he or she is parentless.

Monitoring newborns in hospitals

Dr. Abdulmalik Al-Sayyani, director of Taiz’s Al-Thawra Hospital, notes, “Cases involving illegitimate children are few. In fact, the hospital has registered only one or two over the past seven years. As a mother is admitted to the hospital, we immediately ask her the name of the child’s father before she delivers it in order to record it in the logbook because at the time of her admission, no mother experiencing labor dares to lie.”

He continues, “We don’t request marriage contracts because we aren’t a relevant authority, particularly when a woman comes in with her father and gives his surname as the baby’s. If her father is willing to adopt the child, we don’t object to it because we want citizens to adopt such babies.”

The doctor adds, “Undoubtedly, women who conceive illegitimately are perceived to have made mistakes, but we aren’t responsible for their mistakes. That’s the responsibility of criminal investigation bureaus and other security agencies. Our job simply is to help women deliver their babies.”

Al-Sa’afani notes, “We have a Citizenship Authority agent in every hospital to send reports and notifications regarding every birth, whether legitimate or not. The hospital authenticates these documents, which the Citizenship Authority agent then signs in order to facilitate the required procedure for obtaining a birth certificate from any of the citizenship authorities.”

Poverty and tourist marriages

According to Al-Maqtari, the existence of rich and poor, family disintegration and immoral crimes are some of the main reasons for foundlings.

“While tourist marriages and marrying a foreigner are legitimate, such phenomena involve numerous problems related to identity cards and procedures at citizenship authorities,” she explains. “At the LPSP ‘s Social Center, we have one case involving an 11-year-old girl whose mother married a man from the Arabian Gulf for a short time. The husband then disappeared with the wife’s relatives knowing nothing about him and leaving the little girl without an identity.”

Dr. Anisah Dukam believes poverty is one reason for the foundling phenomenon because it forces women to deviate, while others are subjected to rape. Lack of education and moral values is another reason, as many girls aren’t raised well in educated societies; thus, they fall victim to deviation and rape. Some Yemeni families even disown their children due to poverty and the inability to feed them.

NGOs neglect foundlings

While multiple NGOs are concerned about children’s rights, do they really treat all children equally? NGOs must take into consideration numerous social differences while advocating children’s rights; however, despite the multiplicity of NGOs and organizations working on children’s rights, none were found to include foundlings on their agendas and programs.

For example, programs of the Human Rights Information and Training Center don’t include foundlings or disowned children. Likewise, the Shawthab Foundation for Childhood and Development is a local NGO expending much effort to prevent child trafficking, but it also does nothing regarding foundlings’ issues.

However, the foundation’s Secretary-General Maryam Ibrahim Al-Shawafi notes that in the coming days, foundation staff will establish a vision for programs focusing on foundlings and seeking to improve the situation for deprived children in several government institutions, such as the Orphans Care School and the like.

Al-Shawafi says, “Speaking as a children’s worker, I don’t believe foundlings have committed any sin; rather, they are innocent children paying the price for crimes committed by adults. Such cases aren’t new – they’ve existed since ancient times – but our main concern is how to increase public awareness of the phenomenon and how to reform foundlings’ situations within alternative families in order for this group of children to adapt with other families and surroundings.”

She continues, “Civil community organizations can do something in this regard; however, decision makers are more able to suggest workable solutions to improve foundlings’ situations. Additionally, the community is responsible to provide solutions to this problem by increasing awareness among schoolchildren, who know nothing about the phenomenon.

“It’s noticeable that the family plays no role in this respect amid weak social relations, whereas awareness about foundlings should be spread at various venues, such as schools, mosques and men’s and women’s gatherings. Mosque preachers should discuss a variety of social problems, including the foundling phenomenon, during Friday sermons and suggest workable solutions to persistent problems in their communities,” Al-Shawafi proposes.

Family House for Child Care

A facility called the Family House for Child Care, located on Hadda Street in Sana’a, houses as many as 50 foundlings, with those in charge behaving like they are the real parents of the disowned children.

Executive Director Saddam Al-Dhaibani, explains, “The house was established following a field study conducted as a reaction to media reports saying that stray children in Yemen are subjected to beating and oppression due to lack of shelter, which, even if available, are similar to jails. The situation encouraged us to establish the house and play a pioneering role in this respect.”

Likewise, Dukam, who helped found and now manages the Guidance and Psychological Research Center affiliated with Taiz University, says, “The Safe Childhood Center isn’t a facility offering shelter for foundlings; rather, having studied the reasons forcing children to become strays, its job is to return them to their families. The center has received only one case involving a little girl, but we only learned that she was a foundling after she fled the center.”

Most of those interviewed for this story agreed that Yemeni society must show respect for foundlings and assist them to lead new lives and forget their fate. Government agencies must play a greater role in this respect, facilitating procedures for foundlings to obtain birth certificates and identity documents.

As attorney Al-Shamiri notes, “The Western world has preceded us, conducting studies and suggesting possible solutions to the foundling phenomenon. While it’s important for our ideology to prosper, it’s also important for us to benefit from others’ experiences and apply their useful studies to our Muslim community, as this will help lawmakers and legislators bring about workable solutions befitting our real-life situations, whereas shifting attention away from the phenomenon may exacerbate it.”

Link to article

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MINNESOTA: Opinion--Most Adoptees Welcome Reunion

December 18, 2007

Most adoptees welcome reunion
By Natalie Miller Rotunda

One of the most controversial aspects of adoption — access to birth records — was the subject of a recent news story. “Should adoptees see records?” It focused on a report released last month by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. They say yes, and have ample support for their stand.

At present, only eight states allow that type of access, and the institute would like to see every state make birth records available to adult adoptees who want to know who their birth parents are.

For those adults in the eight states who found birth parents, the Institute reports, “Outcomes appear to have been overwhelmingly positive for adult adopted persons and birth parents alike.”

Most birth parents actually welcome rather than fear contact with the children they gave up. My daughter Robin not only will welcome the day she sees her daughter in the flesh again; she yearns for it. By then, maybe Illinois will be another in a long list of states to accommodate records access.

More than 50 years ago, adoptions were closed. Birth parents and adoptive parents had little or no contact or information exchange, and adult adoptees consequently had no connection to their past. By the 1970s, a few alternatives became available. Total secrecy is rare now, and, thankfully, a growing number of professionals regard it as a poor practice for everyone involved.

Heart of the issue

Peel away the layers of closed versus open adoptions and the birth records controversies and what’s left? The heart of the issue — what’s best for those directly involved?

The institute uncovered information that helps us understand the benefits of openness in adoptions. It concluded that the best of all possible adoptive situations is an open one, where the birth mother meets, or at least helps choose, her baby’s new parents.

Mothers who place their children and have a hand in knowing where the child is have fewer grief issues. “Research on birth mothers who relinquished children for adoption in the era of total secrecy chronicles a negative, long-term impact of this experience on many areas of their lives, including triggering chronic, severe grief reactions and contributing to ongoing complications in future parenting and marriage relationships.”

Not knowing what happened to their children was the hardest reality with which they coped.

Living with adoption

When Robin made the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up, she didn’t know much about the process. She did know she wanted some control over who would rear the baby. The caseworker at the Catholic adoption agency in Quincy emphasized repeatedly that, once she signed the papers, she would forever relinquish parental rights. Forewarned, she continued meeting with her caseworker in the months before the baby’s birth.

They called it a closed adoption. Yet, Robin looked through stacks of profiles of couples who desperately wanted to adopt a child, couples with no names, just stories describing their lives and why they wanted a baby.

The couple she chose must have seen their hopes crumble when they learned that Robin brought the baby home. But she hadn’t changed her mind. She wanted a week, just one week, before she gave her baby to the loving couple who would give her child the home she wasn’t able to give her at the time. For one week, she was the baby’s mom, and she crammed a lifetime of memories into each day.

Then came the cold January day when the caseworkers picked up the baby. We’d all written loving messages telling her we loved her, and tucked meaningful mementos into envelopes we hoped the new parents would someday give the baby.

Robin signed the papers that ended her parental rights. Would we meet again someday? We all hoped so.

Our family has lived with the realities of adoption. By the time Robin’s baby is an adult, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute may have achieved its goal — that all states will have legislated an open-door policy for adult adoptees who want to know their family roots.

This is the opinion of Natalie Miller Rotunda, president and co-founder of the Quincy, Ill., Writers Guild. She moved to Minnesota in 1995. Her column is published the third Tuesday of the month.

Link to article

MICHIGAN: Rules Limit Connection Between Kids and Biological Parents

WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, December 18, 2007
Rules limit connection between kids and biological parents


GRAND RAPIDS -- Bonnie Baker Harris has witnessed some remarkable reunions, like the one between Steve Flaig and Chris Tallady.

"Sometimes it can get quite emotional," Harris said.

She is the post-adoption specialist for the Bethany Christian Services Adoption Agency. As part of that work, she helps adopted children and biological parents connect.

"I would say we get several calls every week," Harris told 24 Hour News 8.

Those calls can result in a connection, especially for children whose biological parents ended their parental rights after September 1980. In those cases, as long as a parent hasn't asked not to be identified, his or her child can get the parent's name and last known address through the adoption agency.

For the children of parents whose rights were terminated before September 1980, information can only be released if a biological parent specifically allows it.

So what if there is no permission or denial on file?

"That is a very, very common outcome," Harris said. "The state has put into place what's called confidential intermediary services."

That person works as a go-between without telling either party who the other one is.

As Steve Flaig and Chris Tallady's story shows, sometimes an intermediary can be helpful, even when names and addresses are available. In their case, it led to a happy result.

"Best Christmas present ever," Chris Tallady said.

Her son's response?

"I can't wait to get to know each other better."

Link to article

Saturday, December 15, 2007

IOWA: Letter--Open-records Group is not Anti-Adoption, December 15, 2007

DES MOINES REGISTER, December 15, 2007

Open-records group is not anti-adoption

Regarding the Iowa View "Advocates of Opening Records Pursue an Anti-Adoption Agenda," Dec. 3:

The authors allege that Bastard Nation (BN) is anti-adoption. Incorrect. BN's mission is to let adult adoptees have open access to government documents about themselves. BN has never implied "an end to adoption for all but extreme cases of abuse and neglect," and the authors cite nothing to support that allegation.

The authors next assert that because birth parents were promised confidentiality, only a mutual-consent registry can balance the "privacy questions" posed by opening records.

The authors do not establish that all parties to adoption have equal privacy rights, and cite nothing showing that secrecy from the adoptee was ever "promised." Nor do they explain who promised it or why any promise would prevent legislatures from amending records' laws to allow access.

And though the article calls BN a "search group," nothing in BN's mission statement implies a need for search registries. Even if no adoptees ever searched for their birth parents, or the law prevented search, BN would still stand for the access of adoption records to the adult adoptee for their own sake.

Lastly, the authors state that mutual-consent registries and safe-haven laws are good policy, but offer no basis for how safe-haven laws enhance adoption or mutual-consent registries. Anonymous safe-haven desertion would seem to thwart mutually consenting searchers from ever finding each other.

- Erik L. Smith,


Bastard Nation,

Link to article

Thursday, December 13, 2007

TENNESSEE: Tennessee Law Pioneered Adoption Records Access, December 12, 2007

December 12, 2007

Tennessee law pioneered adoption records access
New report says birth parents, children benefit from knowledge

Staff Writer

Tracey van der Spuy can't remember a time when she didn't know she was adopted.

The word has always been a part of what van der Spuy — who was handed over to a Tennessee couple at 6 weeks old — calls her "story." But in 1991, when van der Spuy felt the first of her three children moving inside her, that stopped being enough.

"It's hard for me to explain," van der Spuy said. "But for the first time in my life, I really needed something more. I needed to know where I came from, I needed to know about me."

A groundbreaking report released last month, a compilation of long-term studies on adoption, says birth parents who give up their children benefit psychologically from finding adoption records, as do those children. Because of long-standing beliefs about the value of secrecy in adoption, adults who were adopted as children are the only individuals in the United States who, as a group, do not have routine access to their birth certificates.

That's something Tennessee lawmakers changed more than a decade ago. It took a massive 1996 rewrite of Tennessee's adoption laws, a pair of civil suits and a state Supreme Court ruling, but Tennessee became the first state in the nation with a broad, court-tested adoption records access law.

In 1997, van der Spuy became one of the first Tennesseans to receive a copy of just about every document pertaining to her birth and adoption. Lawsuits filed soon after delayed other requests.

Since then, about 5,000 adopted adults have made similar requests. Nearly 2,500 have received requested information. Children who are the product of rape or incest or whose parents' rights were terminated because of abuse or neglect can't access the records.

"Tennessee was a precedent setter," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Boston-based research organization that released last month's report. "It set the standard for a law that protects the interest of everyone involved — birth parents and those who have been adopted alike."

Laws hide history

In 1917, Minnesota passed the nation's first law limiting access to any records related to an adoption. The idea: Children made available for adoption were often born outside marriage. Public access to that sort of information might affect the child's adoption prospects and later life.

Later laws in all but two states — Kansas and Alaska — sealed original birth records from the view of even those who were parties to the adoption. Secrecy was an essential marketing tool used by baby brokers to appeal to infertile prospective adoptive parents, said Caprice East, a Nashville interior decorator and adoptee who led the charge to change Tennessee's law in the 1990s.

East, a dark-haired woman with dimples, grew up in a Tennessee family of fair-haired freckle- faced children born to her adoptive parents. As a child, East was often asked about the origins of her dimples.

"They would pat my head, and all I could really do is smile," she said. "In reality I had no idea. It may sound silly, but I wanted to know where those dimples came from. I wanted to know where I came from and why I was given away. But that secrecy was in the way."

In 1951, the Tennessee legislature passed a law sealing birth records. The bill was sponsored by a legislator who had adopted children.

In 1996, the law changed after East's tireless campaigning to get her own records, but the struggle for records access wasn't over.

A collective of unidentified birth parents, an adoptive parent and Nashville-area adoption agency A Small World filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee's more open law.

After a series of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case and a similar suit was filed in state court. The battle over adoption records in Tennessee became fodder for national news. In 1999, The Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately upheld the new law and opened a floodgate of adoption record requests.

Tom Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption, a nonprofit group that lobbies on behalf of adoption agencies, including A Small World, said his group doesn't oppose openness."But we don't believe that birth parents that have been promised privacy and who expect privacy should have that right stripped from them unilaterally."

He said some are concerned that Tennessee's law and others like it might "degrade" adoption, making it a less attractive for some than abortion.

Court records and federal health data reveal a different picture.

In most states where adoption records have become more accessible, adoption has increased and abortions have decreased, the Donaldson institute's study found.

Tennessee abortions dropped from 17,989 in 1996 to 14,175 in 2004, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data available.

'Is that child OK?'

Birth parents need to be sure a decision made as teens will not permanently bar knowledge of their children's well-being, said the institute's Pertman, an adoptive father.

Holly Spann, a Nashville resident who surrendered a child at age 17, agrees. Spann refers to herself as a "girl who was sent away," because as a teen, she moved to an Alabama home for unwed mothers, where she gave birth to her only child, a daughter.

"What I needed to know, what virtually every birth parent needs to know is, is that child OK?" Spann said.

She said she hired an agency to find her daughter, and they spoke on the telephone in 1995. The daughter didn't want to pursue a relationship.

Van der Spuy's story was different. Under the law parents have a right to bar their birth children from making contact. In 2000, van der Spuy learned that her mother did.

"You know, that's OK," van der Spuy said. "It has to be OK. The law guarantees me information about myself, information I wanted and needed, information for which I am grateful. It does not guarantee me a relationship."

Link to article

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

CANADA/ONTARIO: New Legislation Would Provide Greater Openess in the Future, Protect Privacy for Past Adoptions, December 10, 2007

Ontario Ministry of Communications and Social Services, December 10, 2007

December 10, 2007 Attention News Editors: Ontario Moves Forward To Open Adoption Records New Legislation Would Provide Greater Openness In The Future, Protect Privacy For Past Adoptions

TORONTO, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - The Ontario government has introduced new
legislation that will, if passed, help enshrine openness in future adoption records while providing a disclosure veto for people involved with past adoptions, Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur announced today. "We strongly believe that people should be able to learn about their own personal history," said Meilleur. "The legislation, if passed, will make open adoption records a cornerstone of Ontario's adoption laws. At the same time, it would safeguard the privacy of those involved in past adoptions."

The new legislation would, if passed, allow adult adoptees and birth
parents, whose adoptions were registered in Ontario, to: Apply for copies of their adoption orders and birth registrations - Place a disclosure veto on their file if their adoption order is made in Ontario before September 1, 2008.

In addition, anyone who chooses to place a disclosure veto on their file would be asked to voluntarily provide their medical history so that birth relatives may be able to obtain personal health information.

Adult adoptees and birth parents may continue to place a no-contact
notice on their file if they do not want to be contacted. They may also register a notice specifying a contact preference on how they prefer to be contacted.

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian today
applauded the government for including a privacy-protective disclosure veto in the new bill. "This disclosure veto will preserve the privacy of a number of deeply concerned birth parents and adoptees, while still allowing the vast majority of birth parents and adoptees to obtain the information they are seeking." The Commissioner is deeply grateful to the Government for making these important changes, allowing the Bill to strike the right balance. The legislation is consistent with the recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision of September 19, 2007 and the views of Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Wendy Rowney, president of Adoptions Search and Kinship and a member of
the coordinating committee for the Coalition for Open Adoption Records, stresses the importance of this legislation for adult adoptees: "Finally, the vast majority of adult adoptees in Ontario will have access to a historically accurate birth certificate." "We believe that it is in everyone's best interest to move quickly with these changes," said Meilleur. "We are committed to helping adoptees and birth parents get as much information as possible - important information about their past."

Disponible en français




The Government of Ontario's new adoption information disclosure
legislation would, if passed, allow for more openness in adoption records while allowing those involved with past adoptions to protect their privacy.

The proposed legislation amends the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and
Family Services Act to allow: - Adoptees who are 18 years old or older to obtain copies of their original birth registrations that will provide them with their original birth name and may identify birth parents. - Adoptees who are 18 years old or older to obtain copies of their adoption orders that may provide information on where they were born and their given name at birth. - Birth parents to obtain information from their child's birth records and adoption orders if the adoptee is 19 years old or older. Information about the adoptive parents would be removed from the adoption records. Adult adoptees and birth parents will also be able to continue to place no-contact notices and contact preferences on their files.

Disclosure veto

If passed, the new legislation will allow adoptees and birth parents to
place a disclosure veto on their file if their adoption order is made in Ontario before September 1, 2008. If a disclosure veto has been placed on a file, copies of adoption orders or birth registrations will not be released. If a disclosure veto has been placed on a file, adoptees and birth parents can still apply for non-identifying information in their adoption records.

there are concerns about a severe medical condition, adoptees and birth parents may also be eligible for a severe medical search to obtain or share information about their family medical history, for example, information needed for an organ transplant.

The legislation, if passed, would ask anyone who registers a disclosure
veto on their file to voluntarily provide information about their family and medical history. This information can help a birth relative who needs to know about potential inherited medical conditions to make informed health care choices.

Regulatory change

The government has made an immediate regulatory change to restore the
province's ability to give adult adoptees and adoptive parents copies of their adoption orders. Identifying information about birth parents will be removed from these documents. An adoptee may require a copy of their adoption order to obtain certain documents including a passport or travel visa. The province's ability to release these important documents has not been available since the recent Superior Court of Ontario decision regarding the Adoption Information Disclosure Act, 2005. The new legislation will apply to all adoptions registered in Ontario.

Media Contacts:
Erika Botond Communications and Marketing Branch Members of the general public may call: or toll free at .

Disponible en français

Link to article

Friday, December 7, 2007

NEW YORK: Commentary: My View--All Adoptees Deserve Access to Birth Records, December 7, 2007

December 7, 2007


All adoptees deserve access to birth records

by Joan Wheeler

I am responding to the Nov. 12 article, “Should adult adoptees know who birth parent is? Report says yes.”

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York City issued a nationwide report, “For the Records: Restoring a Legal Right for Adult Adoptees,” indicating that only eight states give adoptees access to their birth records, with positive results. The report urges the rest of America to pass legislation to allow all adoptees the right to their birth records.

In a country that values personal freedom, it is appalling that an estimated 6 million to 7 million people don’t have the freedom to obtain certified copies of their true birth certificates.

Seventy-seven years ago, three men — one U.S. Children’s Bureau legal researcher and two registrars of vital statistics — decided that the “problem” of illegitimacy could be covered up by a fake paper trail.

Babies of illegitimate birth would be protected forever from knowing the horrible truth. When adopted, these babies would be issued an amended “birth” certificate. This idea was written in a national law. One by one, states voted to seal birth certificates and issue new ones for every adoptee, falsely naming the adopting parents as parents by birth. Even the time of birth was indicated and the hospital named.

But not every adoptee is illegitimate. Many are orphans, others are adopted by stepparents. Yet they are lumped together with “shameful” births and punished because of society’s discriminatory judgments. No matter what the circumstances of conception and birth, all American citizens deserve equal treatment under the law. No one needs to be ashamed of being born, or of giving birth.

Fifty-one years ago, I was the fifth child born to married parents. My mother died three months after my birth. There was no help to keep our family together. Our father was encouraged to relinquish me to two parents.

Keeping with the prevailing thought of the times, my adoptive parents didn’t want me to know the truth. Eighteen years later, my siblings found me. Upon learning that I would soon meet my first father, my adoptive father said, “I’m glad the secret is out.”

Today, I’m no longer an adopted child. I’m all grown up now, yet the law still treats me as a child. At age 51, I’m a captive of the sealedrecord law. My original birth certificate is still sealed by New York State. I am not free to obtain a certified copy of it, nor am I legally allowed to even look at it. I must give up my rights to the facts of my birth in favor of a perceived right to confidentiality of my natural parents, or my adoptive parents’ privacy.

My first father was never promised confidentiality. There was no signed contract of confidentiality, as is claimed by opponents of adoptees’ access to birth certificates. My first father was told by the court to stay away from my adoptive parents. He did.

In more progressive countries, such as the Netherlands and Australia, the adoptee — who was a minor when the adoption contract was signed — has rights to the truth that trump either set of parents’ perceived rights to anonymity. To know one’s personal history and ancestry are basic, human questions.

As for natural parents who don’t want to be found, they have the right to say no to personal contact. However, natural and adoptive parents have the responsibility to tell the truth. Each one of us is a product of our genes and our environment. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Link to article

Monday, December 3, 2007

IOWA: Commentary--Advocates of Opening Records Pursue an Anti-Adoption Agenda, December 3, 2007

December 3, 2007

Advocates of opening records pursue an anti-adoption agenda

Susan Bowland and Cynthia Latcham • December 3, 2007

As an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent respectively, we are concerned about the Register's publication of yet another adoption "open-records" editorial without acknowledgment of the underlying anti-adoption agenda being inadvertently advanced.

Every year during November, which is National Adoption Month, search groups and open-records advocates such as Concerned United Birthparents, Bastard Nation and the American Adoption Congress solicit the sympathetic ear of the media to initiate stories of the alleged identity confusion that they claim is the legacy of adoption. These groups have been lobbying Congress and the state legislatures for more than 25 years. Their stated agenda includes opening previously confidential adoption records and furthering an end to adoption for all but extreme cases of abuse and neglect.

The campaign of these groups has been relatively unsuccessful with legislative bodies, with good reason. After hearing all the arguments through five years of drafting a model adoption code, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws rightly concluded that only a mutual consent registry, such as Iowa's, protects all parties. This means that when an adult adoptee and a birth parent both register, there can be a meeting.

The mutual consent registry is the only way to balance the difficult privacy questions that the states must answer such as: 1) Should the government open previously confidential adoption records? 2) If they are opened, how will the privacy rights once promised or implied be protected? 3) Given that some people desire to shed the confidentiality and some do not, how will the state balance the interests of both? One way to understand this balancing is to substitute "abortion decision" for "adoption decision" and imagine the outrage over opening those confidential records without consent.

Such mutual consent registries are a thorn in the sides of search activists in that they frustrate the desire of one party's unilateral access to search, contact or even pressure the other into a relationship they may not want. The term open records has the ring of progress, candor, lack of secrecy and other noble, forward-thinking values about it. But opening records without voluntary consent becomes an invasion of privacy, a violation of promises of confidentiality - an "outing," so to speak.

Media sensationalism has led many to conclude that all parties in adoption are searching. Yet statistics in states with registries tell the opposite story. A study out of the Annenberg School of Communications found that the media exaggerated by 18 times the number of actual "searchers."

The anti-adoption forces have enjoyed far greater success on the social/media front due to the unwillingness of reporters to dig beneath the surface and explore the agenda of these search advocacy groups. The one notable exception is Lucinda Franks in her New Yorker article around the time of the "Baby Jessica" case, when she exposed the role of these groups in the case. In addition, stories emphasizing grief, loss and pathology due to so-called identity confusion make far more interesting copy than those of content, secure adoptive families.

Search groups such as Bastard Nation promote the portrayal of adoption as a deceptive, hurtful and even pathological institution. The emphasis on adoption as setting in motion a lifetime of grief and loss has had a profound effect on adoptive placement in the United States. Today, fewer than 1 percent of young women experiencing problem pregnancies place for adoption. About half parent and half abort.

The persuasive emphasis on the centrality of search and reunion overemphasizes the loss, grief and emotional turmoil and underemphasizes the positive. Moreover, it promotes the agenda of a small, vocal, radical minority at the expense of our nation's children.

It also promotes poor public policy. Both the Safe Haven Acts and the Mutual Consent Registry (opposed by Bastard Nation, etc.) are good laws. They should be enhanced, not dismantled.

SUSAN BOWLAND, an adoptive parent, and CYNTHIA LATCHAM, an adult adoptee, are members of Adoption Advocates of Iowa.

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