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Should Adoptees have the right to see any and all original, uncensored documentation?

I am adopted and have become increasingly curious about my origins (I know very little). According to the state where my adoption took place, I must pay almost $200 to see my original birth certificate and original adoption paperwork. In addition, these documents are CENSORED. Certain information that the government may feel is harmful or identifying of people will be whited out before it is given to me. I am not permitted to know any of the names of the people involved in my adoption or my given name at birth (among other things). In the case of rape and incest, those adoptees may be denied to see anything at all.

This is true in ALMOST every state in the US and my state is considered an "open records" state so you can imagine how bad it is everywhere else.

Is it fair that every other American has unrestricted access to information of their origins and past but the Adoptee does not?


Asked by NovemberLove at 10:29 PM on May. 21, 2009 in Politics & Current Events

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This question is closed.
Answers (18)
  • This is going to sound heartless, but I think the children of incest in particular NEED that medical information about themselves. There are so many disorders that have a genetic link, from depression to cancer, it's just not right to hide that from the children. Having them wait until adulthood is not a bad idea IMO, but to white it out forever? And charge $200?

    And, just form a public health standpoint, it's REALLY GOOD to know that you're not marrying your first cousin. ESPECIALLY if you're already a child of incest. No one wants to put their future children at such a genetic disadvantage.

    Answer by Sarah_Dorian at 1:31 PM on May. 22, 2009

  • to add, these are archaic laws that are based on the outdated stigmas that placed shame on out of marriage pregnancy, infertility and adoption. I am not ashamed of who I am or where I came from. Should the law be able to place shame on my origins and sweep it under the rug when I want to see it?

    I've heard many women say "yes." I'm wondering why.

    Answer by NovemberLove at 10:30 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • I think you & everyone else should have a right to see all that information without white outs.

    Answer by itsallabtthem84 at 10:32 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • Wow November,
    I think one side of me says YES absolutely. The other part says, only if the birth parent agrees.
    The Yes side of me wins though. I think it is way too important to have access to family history. Medical records can help us a lot in determining possibilities in our own health.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:40 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • As a fellow adoptee, I don't think it's fair at all. I know it's done to "protect" others, but our rights are not considered at all. At this point in time, I'm not looking for anyone; I'd just love to now my CORRECT birthdate. Tons of times, info like this is changed and we don't even know it... If records are censored, there may even be critical info that gets whited out as some medical issues are related to race/ethnicity. If that info isn't there, how are we to protect our children? I had a friend who was an Eastern European Jewish woman who had to undergo genetic testing as she knew her family's history. If you're adopted and didn't know something like this, how is that helpful?

    Answer by jonosmama at 10:46 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • Anon, I agree. For me, the reasoning that Adoptees should have unrestricted, uncensored access is...

    #1 Because every other American does.
    #2 Restricting access based on origin and circumstances of birth (rape, incest, adoption, infertility of adoptive parents) is discriminatory against the adoptee and places secrecy and shame where it does not belong.
    #3 Because no other American citizen (i.e. birth mother/family) should have control over information that belongs to another citizen (i.e. adoptee/adoptive family)
    #4 It really creeps me out that the government can say "we have this on file about you but you're not allowed to know it about yourself."

    I am all for protecting the birth mothers. Mother and child happen to share the same history. It's unfortunate that it may be an uncomfortable situation for a birth mother but I believe her child has a right to know what ever other American has access to.

    Answer by NovemberLove at 10:48 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • jonosmama, I feel for you! I think it's hard for people not in the situation to understand. I am fortunate to know my birth date (or what I hope is the correct date). I just found out yesterday how much I weighed at birth and how long I was as well as what color hair and eyes I had. It meant SO much to me. It bothered me not to be able to know the things about myself that I cherish about my infant son.

    Medical history is too so important. I need to know what I am genetically predisposed to for myself and my children.

    No one considers mental health in these issues at all either. Some adoptees are really tormented by the vagueness of their origins. Yet we place the importance on one person and not another instead of comprimising and these adoptees go on psychologically damaged because of it. It's just not right :-(

    Answer by NovemberLove at 10:53 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • I understand your reasoning. I am not sure having never been in the situation, but only going from my own thoughts here.
    I think the government gets to do what it wants. The birth records shouldn't belong to them anyway. I would feel creeped out by it too.
    I think that originally the idea was to protect birth parents, but they sacrificed the rights of the adoptee. More of the "it's just a fetus" kind of thinking in my opinion.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:56 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • I think that is highly unfair to you. I'm sorry. I do understand the rape and incest one, but any other adoptee should be able to do so

    Answer by sweet-a-kins at 10:56 PM on May. 21, 2009

  • I can almost sympathize with the rape/incest one too. However, I was conceived from rape. I still do not believe it is the government's place to censor my past, only tell me what it wants me to know and then sweep my "shame" under the rug. I feel that just discrimination.

    They did sacrafice the rights of the Adoptee for those of the birth mother. I just don't see why an adoptee can't have access but must agree to refrain from disclosing it to others, publishing it or contacting the birth mother if she does not desire it. That could be a happy medium. They already have something like that in place. If, from the paperwork, I can identify someone, I will face jail time and fines if I contact those people. I don't understand why they can't uncesor the documents with the same pentalties still in place you know?

    Answer by NovemberLove at 11:23 PM on May. 21, 2009