Several things have been bothering me…

22 Mar
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)
Statement on House Bill 5428 Senate Judiciary Committee April 13, 2010
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…

Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Ethics, Uncategorized


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4 responses to “Several things have been bothering me…

  1. Jeannette

    March 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Even 19 years ago we were given the consent to contact form. I remember filling it within 6n weeks of my daughter being born. I wanted my daughter to have all of my information. At that time I aws told that my daughter could get non-identifying info at 18 and identifying info at 21 with the signed consent form.

    When my daughter was almost 17 I called up the agency to make sure it was in her file. I wanted her to have that info., for me it was her right to have my informaion when she wanted it. The agency could not find the signed consent form anywhere. I was one pissed off mama. I called my mother and made sure I remembered right. I asked my mom do you remember me signing the consent for contact form? My mom said that I signed it and she sat beside me as it happened.

    I called up the agency to sign another form. I was determined that my daughter would have my info the day she desired it. I refilled it out accept for the part that asked what is the reason for contact. A week later the agency called me and couldn’t understand why I did not fill that part out. They then asked what my reason for contact was. I said because she is my daughter, that is why I want contact.

    Every person has a right to contact their family and their original birth certificate.


  2. The adopted ones

    March 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm


    So it was an agency form not a state registry contact? I wasn’t sure what contact form they talk about. Can you also tell me if it was given with all the paperwork because my concern is that it is simply signed as no contact thinking that means closed adoption – kwim?

    Funny how the want contact form wasn’t in the file – bet the no contacts always make it in the file…


  3. shadowtheadoptee

    March 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    “legal implications”? Interesting…and the truth finally comes out as to why they fight us so hard. Considering all the incorrect information in my file, if I were the agencies, I guess I’d be concerned too.

    How could there be an implied confidentiality with my birthfather? he didn’t even know he had a daughter, until I made that phone call.

    As for my birthmother, as far as I can tell, they only talked to her once, and even then, couldn’t even look at her to get her physical description correct. Uhg! Makes me want to scream.
    There was an article in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram a year or so ago about a family, who adopted a baby girl from Gladney. The agency stated their were no health issues, mental or otherwise. The little girl had major mental issues from day one, and ended up commiting suicide, if I recall. It turns out her birthmother had , indeed, had mental health issues, Gladney knew, and with held the information from the APs stating confidentiality, or something along those lines. The APs filed a law suit anyway. Wish I could find that article again. It was quite interesting.


  4. Jeannette

    March 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I think – but I could be totally wrong – it is a state form. One set is supposed to be in the file at the agency, and another set is filed with the state. The adoption was a closed adoption. Or as the agency called it semi-open. We had contact through letters sent through the agency. Everyting was looked over and read before forwarded to my daughter. We were not allowed to put in any identifying information. As you know each state is different and this was for California. My daughter was 16 before she saw the first picture of a blood relative. The agency slowly let more things pass under radar as we wrote frequently in her later teenage years.

    Interesting enough I never got any copies of any of my signed adoption paperwork.



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