Myths & Facts About Open Records: What the opposition doesnít want you to know

As the adoptee rights movement spreads around the country, the opposition has fabricated many different claims about the "consequences" of open records for adult adoptees. The evidence clearly shows that these so-called "facts" are nothing more than myth and propaganda, spread by people who have a financial interest in keeping adoptions secret and their actions unaccountable through sealed adoption records. They figure that what you donít know, wonít hurt them.

For Example:

Open records violate a birthparentís right to privacy Our nationís courts disagree. Two landmark cases have examined the issue of a birthparentís constitutional right to privacy. In both cases the courts handed down decisions in support of open records. (For more information please read our publication The Truth about Birthparents and The Right To Privacy)
Birthparents were promised that their identities would be kept secret. Birthmothers widely report that they were promised a variety of different things, everything from life long anonymity to full disclosure to the adoptee upon age of majority. However, any promise of secrecy made to a birthmother was done so inappropriately by social workers, agency workers and attorneys who could never guarantee that laws would never change. With records still sealed in most states in the United States, birthparents must still consider the possibility of being found, since a network of search consultants has arisen to circumvent sealed records. When birth records are opened to adult adoptees, a woman who relinquishes a child will be better able to prepare for possible contact from the adult adoptee than a birthmother who mistakenly believes that sealed records will keep her identity a secret.
Open records would cause more women to abort rather than relinquish a child for adoption. Statistics in states with current open records laws shows otherwise. The abortion rates for Alaska and Kansas are both LESS than the rate than for the United States as a whole Ė 14.6 and 18.9 abortions respectively, by residents, divided by numbers of women aged 15-44, in thousands. The national abortion rate was 22.9. In addition, a law passed in WA state in 1993 allowing for some adoptees to access their original birth certificates has had no effect whatsoever on the WA state abortion rate. (For more information, please read our publication The Good News About Abortion, Adoption Rates, and Open Records)
Washington State has a Confidential Intermediary system for adoptees that want to search for birthparents. This already serves the needs of searching adoptees, so open records is not necessary It's important to remember that open records for adult adoptees is not a search and reunion issue, rather it is about the right of an adopted person to obtain their original birth certificate in the same manner as a non-adopted person. This right applies equally to all adoptees, including adoptees who have already reunited, who were raised in an open adoption, and adoptees that choose not to search. To force an adoptee who has no desire to search out birthfamily into an unwanted reunion simply to obtain a copy of his original birth certificate is humiliating and insulting. This initiative would not change the existing CI law in any way, and that avenue of search would still be available to those who choose it.
Open Records is a radical, dangerous social experiment In reality sealed records is the experiment. Adoption records only began to be sealed in this country in the last 40 years and since 1943 in Washington State. Prior to 1943, WA State adoptees were able to freely access information about themselves. In addition, studies have shown that the intent of sealing records in the first part of last century was to keep adoptive families and birthparents from public scrutiny in a time when being an unwed mother, an infertile couple, or an illegitimate child was not acceptable to society. Not to keep information from the parties involved. Open records are the norm in other parts of the world and in four US states. Records have never been sealed in Kansas and have been open in Alaska since the 1980's. Oregon unsealed its adoption records in 1998, and Alabama in 2000. In Scotland, adoptee records have been open since 1935, and in England since 1975. Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela are only a few of the many nations which do not prevent adult adoptees from accessing their own birth records.

©2000 Washington State Open, all rights reserved

More about open records main page