Historically, birth records were closed to protect children from the stigma of being born "out of wedlock" and having "illegitimate" stamped on their birth certificates.So, how about showing you're an adoptive parent ally and leave a comment at that story in support of access to original birth certificates.
It also was designed to protect the adoptive family from intervention or, as older adoption contracts state, "molestation" by a birth mother.
Hasegawa always knew she was adopted, but later learned more detail about her birth mother's identity through letters written to an adoptive aunt. Her birth parents had married in Paris, but after her father was killed, her mother had to return to the United States and, without help, reluctantly gave up her daughter.
Hasegawa said birth mothers were never promised anonymity. They were forced to sign papers that relinquished their babies, giving up all rights to knowing their fate -- if they were later sick, died or even if they were ever adopted.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, most states had sealed adoption court records completely but, typically allowed adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates, according to adoption researcher Elizabeth Samuels, a law professor at the University of Baltimore.
"In the 1950s when adoption was more popular, they wanted to hide the shame of the illegitimate family and the adoptive family didn't want interference in creating the perfect family," she said. "The adoptive birth certificate should reflect the new person."
In 1960, the laws in 40 percent of the states still permitted adult adoptees to inspect them, but between then and 1990, all but a handful of the rest of the states closed the birth records to adult adoptees.
When mores changed, a generation of adoptees began searching for their birth parents, and adoptive parents felt threatened that their children wouldn't love them, according to Samuels.
The focus of protection shifted away from the birth mother and her child to the rights of adoptive families. Efforts to keep records closed were led by adoption agencies, attorneys general and legislators, but not by the birth mothers themselves.
Today's adoptive parents are more apt to fight for the "rights of the child and their origin," said Samuels.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Graying Adoptees Still Searching for Their Identities
Check out this great story at ABC News about domestic adoptees' access to their original birth certificates. The article is really accessible, and the comments very interesting. The story does a good job of debunking some of the myths about who closed records are supposed to protect, like in this part: