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1 Whittier J. Child. & Fam. Advoc. 85 (2002)
Right to Privacy verus the Right to Know: The Movement to Unseal Adoption Records

handle is hein.journals/wjcfad1 and id is 87 raw text is: RIGHT TO PRIVACY VERSUS THE RIGHT TO KNOW:
THE MOVEMENT TO UNSEAL ADOPTION RECORDS
I. INTRODUCTION
The debate over whether states should allow adult adoptees
access to their birth records has raised emotions on both sides of the
equation. Clyde Tolley, an adult adoptee, notes: After you've had a
kid for 21 years, you've got as much of that kid's childhood as you can
get. What's the threat? How can you say to a 21-year-old adoptee,
'You can't know this'?' While Cindy, a woman who gave up her
child for adoption counters: It is very, very difficult to feel our pain
and to see our side. We were faced with unwanted pregnancy, an
untimely pregnancy that threw your life into utter chaos.2
The adoption process has traditionally been enshrouded in
secrecy. The adoptive parents usually do not know the biological
parents; the biological parents usually do not know the adoptive
parents. The child is given a new name, new birth certificate indicating
the names of the adoptive parents, records are sealed after closed
judicial proceedings, and the child bonds and thrives with their new
family.3 All emotional and legal bonds between the birth parents and
the child are severed and the child is raised in a new family becoming
exclusively and 'in all respects' the child of the adopting parents.'4
Up until the last ten years, the adoption process was closed and despite
efforts by adult adoptees to gain access to their records, they were
1. Joan Jacobson, Law Unseals State Records On Adoptions; Legislation Helps
Parents, Offspring Locate Each Other; 100 Applications Already In; Critics Say
Opening Files Could Lead to Privacy Violations, Baltimore Sun lB (Oct. 24, 1999).
2. Bill Graves, Birth Mothers Fight for Their Privacy With Empty Arms: Women
Opposing Oregon's New Adoption Records Law Feel as Though They Have Few
Weapons, Portland Oregonian DI (Nov. 21, 1999) (quoting a mother who's child was
conceived by rape).
3. Joan Heifetz Hollinger, Adoption Law and Practice vol. 2, § 13.01 [1] [a]
(Matthew Bender & Co. 2001).
4. Id.

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