Adoptee Rights post…

15 Sep


Right now there is legislation in PA and Pennsylvania Adoptee Rights is asking for your support and help today.  Please consider their request for action today.

Yesterday, I stumbled on this book when I was searching for an old paper by CWLA about sealed records…it’s a very short but comprehensive overview of when, why, and how adoption records were sealed.  Encyclopedia of Privacy: A-M edited by William G. Staples  (quotes below found on pages 7-11. first quote page 8).

Adoptees want to restore the right that was taken from them, many long after their adoption took place.  If you aren’t sure what this all means, below is a very quick overview of US history of adoptees being denied the right to their original birth certificate (from the book linked above).  In the first quote below you will see it was over several decades that the change took place in the US, and, Pennsylvania was one of the last (in the mid 1980’s) .  It also covers privacy concerns and how the courts that have weighed in view the subject of adoption and privacy.

“Rapid changes in state laws continued, however, and by 1960 twenty-eight states reported to the federal government that they made original birth certificates available only by court order, although in a number of those states access to court records remained available to the parties of the proceedings.  Twenty states reported making original birth certificates available on demand to adult adoptees.  Of those states, four closed the birth records to adult adoptees as well as the public in the 1960’s, seven more did so in the 1970’s, and another seven did so after 1979.  Two states, Alaska and Kansas, never closed the original birth records to adult adoptees.”

The paragraphs before the quote in the book, speaks about when it was decided to start amending birth certificates, it wasn’t all that long before I was born.  After the quote above, it speaks about who sealed records were originally intended to protect, and why, that was found in the documents from that era, and about the surrender documents and what adoptions workers were to make sure mothers knew (which wasn’t privacy), well worth the read.

Tennessee was one of the first (if not the first) to change their laws and the change was challenged in court.  It quickly discusses the court challenges to Tennessee changing the law (and Oregon as well).  Parties challenged the Tennessee changes in federal court that resulted in the 1997 ruling…(page 11)

“[…] United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1997 held, first, that the law does not interfere with any Constitutional right to marry and bring up children or with any right individuals may have to either adopt or give up children for adoption.  Second, the court held that the right to give up a child for adoption is not part of a constitutional right to reproductive privacy, and that even if it were, such a right would not be unduly burdened by the law.  Finally, the court held that the Constitution does not include a general right to nondisclosure of private information.”

They then tried filing suit in state court that the law impairs the rights of birth parents who surrendered under the old law and TN constitutional right to privacy – the 1999 ruling…(page 11)

“[…] the Supreme Court of Tennessee noted that early adoption statutes had not sealed records, and that later amendments permitted disclosure to an adoptee if a court found that the disclosure was in the adoptee’s and the public’s best interest.  the court concluded, therefore, that there had never been “an absolute guarantee or even a reasonable expectation” that records were permanently sealed (Doe v. Sundquist 1999, 925). […]”

A few paragraphs later it talks about the challenge to Oregon changing the law.  Since this book was published in 2007, more states have changed their laws restoring rights taken from adoptees in the last hundred years.

Wishing all a good week.



Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Adoption


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8 responses to “Adoptee Rights post…

  1. Tiffany

    September 15, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I shared this same plea earlier today on my facebook with a link to a list of the reps and their phone numbers. I have a lot of friends and family in PA, with my husband being from there and having worked there for a few years after college.

    First comment I received, “Does this mean they would have access to the birth parent’s names and be able to contact them?”

    Grrrr… I managed to respond nicely. I think.


    • TAO

      September 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Typical response and yet, the people asking the question have the same right they are against others having.

      Thanks for promoting!


      • Tiffany

        September 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm

        Update, he and I exchanged some back and forth q&a, and he is now contacting his rep. He said he had no idea about all this. So, I feel good having helped educate one person!!! Hoping others see it.

        You are welcome, but I will always promote adoptee rights! As an adoptive parent, it is absolutely my duty to support adoptees in this. You all represent my daughter, and until she can advocate for herself, I will do it. When she’s old enough, I hope to stand beside her and continue lending my voice and support. The ones impacted the most by these laws should have the greatest say, and so far, that has not been happening. I hope we can change that.


        • TAO

          September 15, 2014 at 8:23 pm

          You made my day Tiffany (just like many others days you did as well). Bravo! One more person educated.


          • Tiffany

            September 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

            My husband’s aunt just shared that she called her rep. I’m so excited for this bill! I am hoping so much that there is traction. After the disaster in my home state of NY earlier this year, and the access bill in my current state of CA turning into such a mess that adoptee rights groups were actually seeking to kill it, I would really love to see a win in PA for adoptees.


            • TAO

              September 15, 2014 at 9:11 pm

              YAY! You keep on making my day better and better. I too hope that PA changes the law, I was reading articles from 1999 and 2005 from PA this morning and it’s time for a win for them.


            • anenomekym

              September 18, 2014 at 3:21 am

              Sadly, PA legislators took a step backwards from adoptee rights yesterday.

              As I’ve learned more about adoptee rights bills and efforts in primarily NYS, for me, this Green Party NYS gubernatorial candidate is getting some of my attention.


        • anenomekym

          September 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

          You made my day too, Tiffany. Thanks for opening your ears, eyes, and mind, and standing with us (and your daughter) in solidarity (until she can stand on her own).

          Also, it’d be great if you would sign and share this petition. Rather than going state-by-state, a nationwide law restoring adoptee right access would be great.




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