Adoption Laws Need To Move into the 21st Century

Hundreds of courts and families came together on National Adoption Day on November 20th to finalize adoptions from the foster care system. These celebrations rightfully honored adoptive families and supported the placement of some of the 115,00 children who are awaiting placement. National media paid attention to these events.

What the media did not cover is that roughly six million adult adoptees are denied the right to information about their own identities through the archaic laws that exist in most states. Adoption stories often gloss over the challenges adoptees face as they attempt to piece together their identity from the scant information they are given.

Our national dialog does not adequately reflect the truth about adoption: the considerable psychological challenges for all members of the adoption triad, the continuing controversies about transracial adoption, or the increasing legislative efforts to open records. The adoption world of public and private agencies, attorneys, and social workers, often relates to adoptive parents as their primary stakeholders. But alongside that community, in what seems like a parallel universe, are the interests of adult adoptees. It is their voices that need to be heard for surely they are the central stakeholders in adoption.

Adoption reform organizations such as the American Adoption Congress support legislation that gives adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates without restrictions or limitations. Who among us would want to have the most intimate knowledge about our origins withheld from us? Knowing you who are and where you have come from is a basic human need and an essential civil right. Let’s encourage a deepening national conversation that privileges all corners of the adoption triangle: the adoptive parents, the birth parents and the adoptees themselves.

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