Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Studies finding for adoptee access to Original Birth Certificates

2009 -112 pages- Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute: “Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation for Adoptees.” The broadest, most extensive examination of adult adoptive identity to date. (Entire study published on Institute’s website).

2007 – 50 pages –Professor E. Wayne Carp: “Does Opening Adoption Records Have an Adverse Social Impact? Some Lessons from the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia 1953 to 2007.” (Study available from www.informaworld.com or from Unsealed Initiative).

2007 –31 pages—Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute: “For the Record: Restoring a Legal Right for Adult Adoptees.” (Entire study published on Institute’s website).

2008 --33 pages---Cleveland State Law Review: “The Only Americans Legally Prohibited from Knowing Who Their Birth Parents Are; A rejection of Privacy Rights as a Bar to Adult Adoptee Access to Birth and Adoption Records. (On line copy available from Unsealed Initiative ). Cleveland State Law Review. Volume 55 issue 3.

2001—59 pages- Professor Elizabeth J. Samuels: “The Idea of Adoption: an Inquiry into The History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records.” Study concludes confidentiality was for adoptive parents. Some birth parents signed surrender papers agreeing to stay away from the custody of the adoptee and adoptive family. But no birth parent was given confidentiality or a right to privacy. This study is published in the Rutgers law review#367, 2001. (3 page conclusion available from Unsealed Initiative).

1997---Cornell University study sponsored by the New York State Citizens Coalition Children: “Adoptive Parents Are Overwhelmingly in Favor of Opening Sealed Adoption Records.” (Available at www.news. cornell.edu/release/jan97/adoption.record.ssl.ht).

1973—New York Law Forum study concludes adults adoptees should have access to identity and birth records for psychological health reasons. (Available from Unsealed Initiative).

Survey Finding for Access

2003 –Survey conducted by FindLaw finds an overwhelming majority of Americans believe adopted children should be granted full access to their adoption records when they become adults. (Survey findings published on http://www.findlaw.com ).

Convention on the Rights of the Child

1989 –UN Resolution (44/25 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 8). Section 1 states parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference. Section 2 states where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, state parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view of re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bill will give adoptees access to their birth records-Albany Legislative Gazette June 1, 2010

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May 27, 2010
Members of the Unsealed Initiative, a group that is working toward adoption reform, are hopeful that a proposed "bill of adoptee rights" will be passed this legislative session.

The adoptee bill of rights (S.5269/A.8410) would grant people who are adopted the right, upon their 18th birthday, to obtain an original or certified copy of their birth certificate and learn who their biological parents are. The legislation would also ensure adoptees have access to their family's medical history, if such records exists, as well as any other information birth relatives might choose to provide.

The bill would also allow birth parents the option making know their contact preference. Birth parents could either chose to allow contact, allow contact through an intermediary or indicate their preference not to be contacted. Birth parents would be able to rescind or revise their contact preference at any time.

"Way too many people out there who have been adopted need information. And they're not getting it," said David Koon, D-Perinton, the Assembly sponsor of the adoptees bill of rights.

Koon said he is concerned that adoptees who are unable to view a complete family history are at higher risk for developing genetic conditions. If an adoptee is allowed to view their family's history then they might be able to prevent illness, "especially with today's technology," he said.

New York sealed adoption records in 1935 due to social stigmas attached to being an adopted child. This subsequently sealed all records of the adoption process to all parties involved. All adoptees thereafter were unable to view their own birth certificates or receive any information regarding their family's medical history.

"The whole climate has changed because our issue has become more mainstream. We're more accepted," said Joyce Behr, president of the Unsealed Initiative. According to Behr, the adoptee bill of rights was first introduced in 1993. Since then the bill has been introduced in both houses of the Legislature but has seen little movement.

Though New York adoptee records have never been unsealed, in 1983 the state created an Adoption Information Registry that allows adoptees to obtain nonidentifying information about their birth parents.

The nonidentifying information that adoptees can obtain includes general appearance, race, education and occupation. An individual can only receive indentifying information if both parties have registered with the Adoption Information Registry and both have consented to the release of their information.

Birth parents can also supply medical and psychological information to the registry. That information can be obtained by an adoptee who registers with the registry. Any medical updates must be certified by a licensed health care provider.

The registry cannot provide adoptees with their original birth certificate or adoption records.

Several states have recently opened adoption records including Delaware, Tennessee and, most recently, Maine, according to a statement prepared by Unsealed Initiative.

The legislation was referred to the Senate Health Committee at the beginning of the year, and reported to the Assembly Codes Committee on May 11.