Mandatory Release vs. Mutual Consent: New Report from NCA

Today I received a link to this recent report from the National Council for Adoption, refuting the findings of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute with regard to open records, in particular the notion that adult adopted persons should have automatic access to the identities of their birthparents. This is a difficult — and hotly debated — issue.  

I’ve touched upon the subject here and elsewhere in the past, and have no desire to rehash the arguments at this time (those who are unfamiliar with the arguments in favor of mandatory open records will find them summarized nicely in this report).  However, there was one point in the NCA report that I thought warranted special mention. In their response to the first “social argument” for mandatory open records, NCA observes:

“Contrary to the picture painted by EBDAI’s misrepresentation of data, the vast majority of birthparents (and adopted persons) support the release of identifying information to the children they placed for adoption based on the principles of mutual consent, not mandatory openness. In support of their argument that “the vast majority of birthparents … support the release of [identifying] information to the children they release for adoption,” the authors of For the Record state, “A 1991 study found that a substantial majority of birthmothers (88.5%) supported access by adult adopted persons to identifying information on their birthparents.”

The study cited is Sadchev’s Achieving Openness in Adoption…, and it does indeed state that 88.5% of the birthmothers surveyed supported the release of identifying information to adult adopted persons. However, the study also found that 75% of birthmothers who supported the release of identifying information prescribed “consent of the birthmother as [a] condition for permitting adoptees access to this information.”

In other words, three out of four birthmothers support the release not mandatory release, but by mutual consent. Furthermore, Sadchev finds, 77.9% of birthmothers, 88.8% of adoptive parents, and 75.5% of adopted persons would prefer sealed records or release by mutual consent to mandatory openness. (NCA report, pg 5)

To date only 10 states have mandatory open records, with 40 states having varying degrees of “openness” with regard to adoption records — some granting non-identifying medical information (some requiring a court order). If you would like to find out the rules in your state, click here. (I’m not sure how current this list is … If you know of something more current, please let me know.)

I’m going to be away from the computer for the next few days, so if your comments do not immediately post, please be patient. And as always, “calm and constructive” get a much better hearing than “snarky and insulting.”  If you want to rant, do it on your own blog. Thanks!

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