State of Confusion

“We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.” – Mark Twain

I realize it’s not scientific. It is a random poll on the internet filled out by random no name people but I still find it interesting.

The question is:

Who is protected by closed records?

The possible responses are:

  • Adopters (meaning those who adopt)
  • The adopted (meaning the children)
  • Natural parents (meaning the natural families of those that are adopted).

Most people I know believe that records were/are closed to protect the child first and the natural parent second. Of course, the child is protected from the awful stigma of being a “bastard” and the natural mother, well, I am not sure what she is protected from? Her own child? Anyone ever finding out she had a child?

Personally, as a mom, I don’t need to be protected from my child and never wanted confidentiality. I realize some mothers do but I have yet to see a LAW that promises this. Can someone produce the legislation that guarantees under penalty of law that a mother can be protected from her child or anyone else ever finding out she had a child? Maybe its there and it is just one of those things that was with held from me. If someone were to find out, without my permission, that I had a child, could I then sue them? Can I cite some statute that says they committed a crime? Can I sue the agency?

Perhaps that confidentiality cloak is a myth. An urban legend. Perhaps we should check snopes.com?

What I find interesting is that out of the twenty-six random people who have voted in my poll so far, the majority believe that closed records protect the adopters.

Huh?

Why do full grown adult adoptive parents need to be protected? What are they being protected from?  The truth? Facing the reality that they are raising someone else’s child? Oh, wait, maybe they are being protected from that slut or nut crackwhore who may come and stalk them and take back the child. That must be it, right?

Hmm, okay. So let’s see. Can we just open all records for all adoptees once they reach legal age?  Oh, but what is legal age?

In the States you can drive at one age, vote at another, enlist at another, marry at another, drink at another. Some ages vary by State. How the hell does one determine legal age? It’s a bit squishy, no?

It is not legal to get your natural family history at any age but fully legal for a 14 year old girl to surrender her child with no legal knowledge or representation. Something is well, a bit fagotched there, no?

During a divorce preceding any children involved in a custody dispute can be and often are assigned a Guardian Ad Litem.  Children need to be protected. Legal representation must be provided.

If a 14 year old child gives birth, she requires no such thing. She can sign her child away without any knowledge of the legal proceeding, the ramifications and the damage done to her and her child. She doesn’t even need to have her parents present. (Stupid girl got pregnant..she wont understand the legal mumbo jumbo, right?)

Um, hello?

I once questioned an Illinois family court judge on the legality of a teenage girl surrendering her child without any parental or legal guidance. I was told it is legal in that you are deemed an adult once you have given birth to a child and therefore can make a decision for yourself without your parents or a lawyer.

Okay, so lets follow this logic. A fourteen year old girl can give birth and sign away her child. There is no obligation on the part of the agency or the state to educate or legally protect that fourteen year old girl.  She gave birth. She is now an adult of some sort. (Mind you she cannot enter into any other legally binding contract, cannot drive, cannot vote, cannot get a job, cannot drink and more..but she is an adult because she figured out how to have sex and hey…her ovaries work).

Is it this fourteen year old adult that adopters need to be protected from?

If the fourteen year old is an adult because she gave birth why isn’t her child considered an adult when he turns oh, 21? Why can’t her child get his birth records? Is he NOT an adult? How about female adoptees? If they give birth like their natural mothers, are they now adults who can get their records? Oops. Nope. They cannot.

I seriously don’t get it.

(If you haven’t voted, go ahead. The poll is on the right side bar)

13 Thoughts.

  1. I have been beating my head on this wall for a while now. This is the other clincher in this. In a majority of states, said teenager has to either notify or get parental consent for an abortion. So she is an adult if she has a baby but she is not an adult if she wants to get an abortion. Thunk Thunk Thunk.. me hitting my head on the proverbial wall.

  2. It benefits the industry, most often. Even in private adoptions like mine, the closed system is still a large money maker. Counties receive a lot of money on their fees for petitions and confidential intermediary programs.
    Out of the three options though, adoptive parents are protected the most. I know my adoptive mom was always afraid of my mom or my sister’s mom “showing up on the doorstep with her hand out, asking for money”
    What an odd image to hold.
    Yay, adoption.

  3. I can’t vote because I think it protects no one and hurts everyone. Closed records perpetuate the myth that parents who place should be ashamed and that children who are adopted are damaged goods. Besides, everyone has the right to know who they are and where they came from period.

  4. I think there should be a 4th choice–no one benefits–and a 5th choice–agencies benefit.
    Growing up, I always thought closed records protected the natural mother from having her ‘secret’ discovered. I thought natural mothers didn’t want to be found, were afraid that their child would find them and invade/upset their current family. Of course, I don’t agree with that at all, now, after reading on these boards.
    When someone says ‘open records’ what does that include–original birth certificate, TPR, adoption papers? If it included the adoption papers it might threaten some adoptive parents, who didn’t want the natural parents to connect with the child. They might also be afraid their child would find their original family. I think adoptees suffer the most from closed records. I think agencies benefit the most.

  5. I’ve worked in foster care and adoption. I thought about answering the poll because I believe that closed records benefit adopters, not children, and certainly not biological parents. I think that is a travesty. However, the word protection got me. I didn’t want to vote for something that in my little head equaled valuing adopting parents’ rights over the biological parents and the child. I get a little caught up in semantics, but after working in this field I have found that where you do find ethical purchase you must stand.
    I am grieved to hear your story, but it is one that I have heard before and will hear again. I wish that this were not true. Thank you on behalf of all of the men and women that I see who have never healed from the trauma of losing their children. It’s something that people have not been allowed to talk about for far too long. Thank you for giving those of us who have not experienced this a window so that we can step outside of our experiences and remember that nothing in life is black or white. When I do eventually teach social workers how to do this job I know that I will be assigning blog reading. I have gained so much from reading so many differing perspectives. Thank you. I hope that you and your daughter continue to grow together. You seem like a great mom to all three of your children.

  6. suz, I don’t know if this thought I just had is off-base in regard to your question about who do closed records protect. This isn’t how I think, but back in the day, and maybe some people to this day, were imagining that an altered birth certificate would protect the adoptee from the stigma of being born to (usually) an unwed mother. I don’t support that idea, but it occurred to me as I was thinking about the number of times a birth certificate is needed, like registering for school. To keep people from gossiping about the child being ‘illegitimate’ they created the idea of ‘as if born to’ birth certificates. Not that I consider that right, then or now. And in this day and age, in particular, that should be no issue at all. I hope I was clear, and that this didn’t come across as offensive because of the vocabulary I used. Thanks.

  7. Mariah – Definitely clear and I agree with you. Its antiquated thinking and needs to change. I also agree with all other commenters. My poll should have been worded as who BENEFITS from closed records…not who is Protected…excellent point.

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