In a timely article, CNN just posted this story this afternoon.

NEW YORK (AP) — It is among the most divisive questions in the realm of adoption: Should adult adoptees have access to their birth records, and thus be able to learn the identity of their birth parents?

Maine state Sen. Paula Benoit, an adoptee, lobbied for her state’s open adoption records law.

In a comprehensive report being released Monday, a leading U.S. adoption institute says the answer is “Yes” and urges the rest of America to follow the path of the eight states that allow such access to all adults who were adopted.

“States’ experiences in providing this information make clear that there are minimal, if any, negative repercussions,” said the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. “Outcomes appear to have been overwhelmingly positive for adult adopted persons and birthparents alike.”

Opponents of open access argue that unsealing birth records violates the privacy that birthmothers expected when they opted to give up their babies. They raise the specter of birthparents forced into unwanted relationships with grown children who have tracked them down.

The Donaldson report says evidence from the states with open records rebuts every argument against the concept. Notably, it says there is no proof that abortions rise, that adoptions decline, or that birthparents are harassed following a switch to open records.

“There has been no evidence that the lives of birthmothers have been damaged as a result,” the report says. “In the states that have amended their laws … few birthmothers have expressed the desire to keep records sealed or the wish not to be contacted.”

The most recent state to opt for open records is Maine; a law signed in June will allow adult adoptees to access their birth certificates starting in 2009.

One of the bill’s main sponsors was state Sen. Paula Benoit, an adoptee who personally lobbied all her colleagues. While working on the bill, she uncovered her own biological background and learned, to her amazement, that two Democratic lawmakers she was working with were her nephews.

“There are so many adoptees who want to know who they are,” she said. “Can you imagine being denied your identity?” Among the many birthmothers grateful to have been found by children they relinquished is Eileen McQuade of Delray Beach, Florida, who is president of the American Adoption Congress and a fervent advocate of open records.

I was able to find my records in Ohio (not one of the “open” states listed here) because records are open for those born before 1964. States with open adoptions also tend to have higher adoption rates, so with appropriate controls in place, such as allowing release of records only upon the adoptee becoming an adult, or allowing the birth family to opt out, adoption records should be opened.

However, in my own case, my birth family’s inquiries at the adoption agency were never recorded in the file, otherwise, our reunion would have occurred much earlier. Records are not always kept in good order, unfortunately, but it would be a better system than is in place now.

What do you think about open adoption records? I promise I’ll be nice if you don’t agree with me (we always are nice here at RightPundits!).

***UPDATE***

Teri Brown, a birthmother, posted this very touching message and video in the comments below. I must admit that I was crying while I watched it. We adoptees do not know the grief our mothers went through when they gave us up for adoption.

I made a video that goes with a song I wrote to my birth daughter when she was only 15 (and before I met her). It has been sent to State Senators by others in the pursuit of open adoption records. “Child I Cannot Claim.”

My own birth mother last night told me she saw no reason why the records should be sealed.

CNN story here.
Donaldson Institute Web page here.