FOR THE RECORDS II: AN EXAMINATION OF THE HISTORY AND IMPACT OF ADULT ADOPTEE ACCESS TO ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES
Authors: Dr. Jeanne A. Howard, Susan Livingston Smith, and Georgia Deoudes.
Published: 2010 July. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
For the Records II: An Examination of the History and Impact of Adult Adoptee Access to Original Birth Certificates" is based on a years-long examination of relevant judicial and legislative documents; of decades of research and other scholarly writing; and of the concrete experiences of states and countries that have either changed their laws to provide these documents or never sealed them at all.
The Institute's report suggests that, while a growing number of states have restored OBC access to adopted people once they reach the age of majority, efforts to accelerate the trend have been impeded by misunderstandings about the history of this controversial issue, misconceptions about the parties involved (especially birthmothers), and mistaken concerns about the impact of changing the status quo – e.g., legislators often assume that negative consequences will occur but, in fact, they do not.
Among the findings in the 46-page Policy Brief, which updates and expands the Institute's November 2007 report, "For the Records: Restoring a Right for Adult Adoptees," are:
- Barring adopted adults from access to their OBCs wrongly denies them a right enjoyed by all others in our country, and is not in their best interests for personal and medical reasons.
- Alternatives such as mutual consent registries are ineffective and do not meet adoptees' needs.
- The vast majority of birthmothers don't want to be anonymous to the children they relinquished.
The recommendations in the Institute's new Policy Brief include:
- Every "closed" state should unseal OBCs for all adult adoptees, retroactively and prospectively.
- States that already provide limited OBC access should revise laws to include all adult adoptees.
- No professional should promise women anonymity from the children they place for adoption.