Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colorado Allows Some Access to Adoption Records, but Fear Still Looms Large

A Colorado Court of Appeals decision opened access to original birth certificates and adoption records for adoptees born between 1951 and 1967 (see Denver Post). Adopted children born post-1999 have some access as well, but for those outside these short windows of time, forget it.

Secrecy still rules in the world of adoption. Access varies widely, unfairly, state-to-state. Only 9 states give full access to records or OBCs for the adoptee, and some with tight restrictions attached. Lots of control, lots of fear. The Denver Post article details the many fears people have about this issue. Check out the reader comments too--many are explosive.

When your very existence is surrounded by fear in this way, it can be emotionally confusing or damaging. To insinuate that adoptees are "dark secrets" whose presence will "destroy lives" is hyperbolic and hurtful.

In Colorado, record numbers of people filed for their original birth certificates following this court decision. Isn't that evidence of how important this is?

The question on allowing access is always this: Whose rights matter most?
  • The adoptive parents'? They might fear that their child will reject them if s/he is allowed to seek information about or contact with birth families...let me tell you, the possibility of rejection is MUCH higher when they are denied the right to this information.
  • The birth families'? The birth families might fear lack of privacy and therefore not want an adoptive child to seek. Often that's not the case, but sometimes it truly is.
  • The adoptees'? Many say that access to birth certificates is a civil right that belongs to every citizen and should therefore belong to adoptees as well. Many also say that access to information about heredity, etc. is also a basic human right.
Perhaps all parties should have the right to say "yes" or "no," but what about when interests conflict? Does the adoptee's rights supersede the birth mother's? Does the adoptive parents' rights count more than the adoptee's? How can we make everybody happy?

Not everyone can be happy unless it's a perfect world. And let's face it: adoption is often evidence of a broken world. When a mother is in a situation where she must give up a child, when a couple cannot get pregnant, when a child has to be removed from a dangerous situation and become property of the government, this is not perfection. Adoption can be a wonderful thing, but it is a human thing so it is flawed and emotional and complicated.

It appears that things might be moving in a progressive direction in Colorado. Hopefully this will encourage further retroactive provisions. When people see that the world doesn't end when access is granted, more draconian laws will be lifted.


5 comments:

FauxClaud said...

Howdy;

Minor correction to this:
"Only 9 states give full access to records or OBCs for the adoptee,"

Only 6 US States have actual full unrestricted access: Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama, Alaska and Kansas..


Delaware is pretty dern good, but still not there 100%..and then any other state, like Ohio and MA who TRY to make it seem like they changed their alws, have horrible balck out periods much like Colorado.

Also, no matter what the opposition says regarding OBC access; protecting the "rights" of birthparents is just a lousy excuse!
a) The adoption records are sealed upon the FINIALZATION of an adoption, not the reliquishment..but it is the reliquishmjent that sever's all birthparents rights to the child. So what you have is parents who have no legal right to a child who STILL carries their names on the UNSEALED, PUBLIC RECORD Birth certificate..often for months!..and then, they create a NEW BC and seal up the old one. So, rights? No... if it was really about proetecting the idenity of birthparents then the OBC would have been sealed immediatly upon termination of parental rights, but that's not historically how it was, so they can't say they are protecting us now.. all smoke and mirrors.

Liberty said...

Exactly, that's why I said even some of those 9 states have restrictions attached.

I agree about the smoke-in-mirrors. The excuses about protecting "rights" of triad members are weak when you look closely. So frustrating isn't it.
Thanks for your comment.

Tova said...

I just randomly called the Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry and by accident got the number for the Closed records office. The voicemail informed me about the window for unsealed adoption records. I was amazed, as I fall into that timeframe. I completed my paperwork, copied my license and send my check.

All I can say, is that it feels as though a piece of my personal identity puzzle is about to fall into place. I love my family (adoptive family), but I'm almost 45 and sick of writing N/A next to my family medical history. Last year the neurologist wanted to rule our MS with an MRI... I'd rather know if something like that was in my family history.

Thanks for your posts!

Tova said...

I just randomly called the Colorado Voluntary Adoption Registry and by accident got the number for the Closed records office. The voicemail informed me about the window for unsealed adoption records. I was amazed, as I fall into that timeframe. I completed my paperwork, copied my license and send my check.

All I can say, is that it feels as though a piece of my personal identity puzzle is about to fall into place. I love my family (adoptive family), but I'm almost 45 and sick of writing N/A next to my family medical history. Last year the neurologist wanted to rule our MS with an MRI... I'd rather know if something like that was in my family history.

Thanks for your posts!

blitz said...

If a single group of people are singled out in any way does this not constitute discrimination? Isn't it illegal for a state to do this? It seems to me that I should not be bound by a contract that I did not sign, EVER. When should states be held responsible for keeping one group of people in the dark when others that are in the exact same situation have freedoms that I apparently must be denied in the name of privacy. Along with a few other undeniable facts of life, the assumption that you still have a right to privacy once you either father, or give birth to a child, is absolutely absurd. After you create a child your right to privacy goes out the window, no matter how young you are. Your child should be able to see you. This is basic human instinct that even these self righteous judges and their idiot laws can't really govern, all that they can really control is the information.