About how adoption agencies deal with closed adoptions today…
My concerns are two-fold…
Adoption agencies still offer closed adoptions today and I think they are telling them they can be confidential, when they blatantly know up front that states are changing laws to allow adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate. They also realize that adoptees who wish to search often succeed in finding their families, so how in good conscience anyone can state confidentiality is beyond my comprehension.
Adoption agencies have also started offering/providing mothers with a consent form to fill out at the time of surrender about future contact. This poses many concerns to me. Personally I feel they should simply provide the info and forms but not have them fill it out right then and there, when they are already overwhelmed with surrendering their baby. In my mind, nothing but bad will come from that and it is likely mothers may not even remember signing the form (I most likely wouldn’t). If mothers don’t remember and want contact it won’t happen, or if they do remember and they said no to contact they may not know they can change their mind or how and where to do it. I also believe it may be used to provide stats on number of mothers who signed stating they did not want contact to stop adoptees from overturning the laws.
Ethically the adoption agencies should advise mothers that it is a real possibility that their child will find out who they are whether it is through changing the laws or just searching.
Somewhat off topic but connected is this article regarding the recent fight to open access to adult adoptees original birth certificates in Illinois…(read the whole article for complete context -2 pages long)
Breach of Implied Confidentiality
One concern especially leads us to recommend that the legislation apply prospectively. We are concerned that in those adoptions that have taken place before the effective date of the legislation, the changes under this legislation will lead to a breach of the implied confidentiality between a birth parent and an adoption agency, like Catholic Charities. Client confidentiality is a premise of social work practice unless otherwise stated when it will not be possible. Though there may not have been written confidentiality agreements, particularly in older adoption cases, it was commonly understood among all the parties that there would be confidentiality based on this premise of client confidentiality. In addition, agencies have followed set procedures that also establish this confidentiality with clients. This legislation attempts to change the understandings that were established in past client situations and attempts to undo promises made in good faith with birth parents who put their trust into the agency. This breach of implied confidentiality then also raises possible legal implications. Birth parents have relied on this understanding of confidentiality when they were clients of agencies, and under the proposed changes in HB 5428, this confidentiality is then broken, raising potential for lawsuits to be brought against agencies. This potential legal consequence of HB 5428 for adoption agencies that acted in good faith should be given consideration. While we understand it would be the State, not adoption agencies, providing access to the original birth certificates, adoption agencies should be assured that they will not be held liable for identifying information being made available nor will they be mandated to open or turn over information in adoption case files. A clarification regarding this concern should be made.
So now they state there were no signed confidentiality agreements and assume that a young mother would know social work was confidential, really? And yet so many mothers were told their child would be told who they were when they turned 18 so which is it? Perhaps they were promised confidentiality from the public eye but their child? Doubtful.
And the last paragraph really tells what the actual concerns are – lawsuits and that their files may be opened to the scutiny of the light of day…