It is common to hear about adult adoptees searching for their birth families. With the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, the search should not be that difficult; however, many adoptees have very little information about the family they are looking for because their adoption records are sealed. Here are just a few of the reasons why adoption records should be opened in all 50 States.
5 Reasons Adoption Records Should be Opened in All 50 States
Access to original birth certificates is a right that should never have been denied to adoptees.
Several years ago, it was common for people to hide the adoption from their children. Some people believed it was better for them to not know or that it was protecting them somehow. Now, most people in the adoption world will tell you that it’s better to let children know from a very young age that they are adopted rather than waiting to tell them as an adult or having them find out accidentally. Being open and honest with adopted children helps to build trust and attachment and strong relationships. With this openness about adoption, it’s only natural that they may want to know more about their birth history and birth families. This will be difficult knowledge for them to obtain if they cannot find access their adoption records.
Children don’t choose to be adopted and they are not given the choice about open or closed adoptions. No one asked them what they wanted, and it is their lives that are ultimately affected forever. Everyone has the right to know where they came from and the circumstances surrounding their adoption. Obtaining these answers could help adoptees find closure, move forward in their lives, and accept who they are. Without access to their adoption records, some adoptees may remain stuck emotionally and have difficulty with future attachments and relationships in life.
Everyone should be familiar with their own medical histories and their families’ medical history. This medical information is important because it can provide valuable information about risk factors and hereditary diseases that may have been passed down. When a person is aware of these health risks they can take extra preventative measures and be monitored for these conditions. In some cases, an adoptee may need an organ donation or bone marrow transplant. Finding biological family members may be the key to finding a potential match. It is also very frustrating not being able to complete the medical history forms every time you visit the doctor’s office. Opening the adoption records can solve this simple mystery easily.
Just because adoption records are opened does not mean that every adoptee will seek out their birth families. Some birth parents may want their children to reach out to them, though, and might be overjoyed when they do. The birth parents might have wanted the adoption to be kept closed at the time but years later they may be longing to see their child and to know what kind of man or woman they have become. The birth family might also never have wanted the adoption to be closed but that’s just how it was done at the time.
Even if the birth parents do not want to be found, other extended family members may want to know the adoptee. Either way, the adoption records should still be open and available to the adoptee. The birth family can choose to not answer the phone calls or letters, etc. if their child seeks them out. They are not obligated to maintain a relationship if they do not want to, but the adoptee has a right to at least know.
As a parent, I can understand the frustration of being unable to answer a child’s questions and not having all the pieces of their adoption story to tell them. It’s painful to see your child suffering or struggling and not be able to help them. Having adopted through foster care, I do know a decent amount of my son’s history. I saw his birth mother once or twice a week for the entire first year of his life. Other adoptive parents I’ve met know very little if anything of their child’s birth family because they never met, and the records are closed. I can’t imagine not having that information and not having these pictures of my son’s birth mom to share with him.
Sherri Eppley is a Storyteller for adoption.com. She is a registered nurse and currently a full-time stay at home mom. Her and her husband have adopted their son and have been foster parents since 2014. She is on the steering team for her local MOPS group, attends Crossroads Church and just loves helping people anyway she can.
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