Rights of Biological and Adoptive Term Paper

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S. until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (Samuels, 2001) According to existing sources, which are sketchy, the establishment of adoption procedures initially failed to provide elements of confidentiality however, these protections were eventually included. Adoption laws and regulations have been instituted in what may be described as a manner that is both illogical and non-uniform in nature. The historical account of the adoption process in the U.S. states that: "Early in the twentieth century, states began moving toward protecting the privacy of participants in the adoption process by closing court records to public inspection." (Samuels, 2001) During the 1930s and 1940s as well as into the earlier part of the 1950s nearly all U.S. states imposed secrecy upon the records in adoptions in order to keep the adoption parents and biological parents from knowing one another and as well to keep the adopted child from accessing information relating to their biological parents. While most states had closed birth records by the 1980s simultaneously: "...a growing advocacy movement for greater openness in adoption was encouraging many states to establish passive and active registries through which adult adoptees and birth parents could attempt to seek information about and establish contact with one another." (Samuels, 2001)

Confidentiality concerns in social policy formulation generally appear to be geared toward secrecy for adoptees and their adoptive parents however: "...virtually no discussion of a need to protect birth parents from adult adoptees seeking and acquiring information about their birth families." (Samuels, 2001) During the 1940s and 1950s the U.S. Children's Bureau "stressed...the desirability of shielding both court records and original birth records from public inspection to protect the parties from public disclosure of personal information in the court records." (Samuels, 2001) Earlier provisions for protection were focused on protecting the adopted child from public disclosure of their circumstances of birth as many of these children were born to un-wed mothers however: "In a 1949 publication, the Children's Bureau failed to mention any concern with birth parents' privacy as a reason for sealing records and specifically endorsed adult adopted access to original birth certificate." (Samuels, 2001) the Model State Vital Statistics Act was revised in 1959 and stated that: "...the original certificate and the evidence of adoption, paternity or legitimation shall not be subject to inspection except upon order of (a court of competent jurisdiction)." (Samuels, 2001) the Uniform Adoption Act was revised during 1969 with the inclusion of a provision "requiring the clerk of the court to forward information to the appropriate vital statistics office..." (Samuels, 2001) however the provision requiring the original birth certificate be sealed was omitted.

During the time period running from 1925 until 1935 it is related that: "39 states enacted new adoption laws or amended existing legislation to reflect in whole or in part the recommendations made by the Children's Bureau," (Samuels, 2001) Furthermore, during the years 1940 and 1045 "forty states...improved their adoption legislation." (Samuels, 2001) in a 1954 report of legislation relating to adoption in the state of Pennsylvania it is stated that: "[i]t is agreed that it is best for all parties if the natural parent does not know the identity of the adoptive parents."(Samuels, 2001) in a 1956 report of the Los Angeles Bar Association on law in California the view was expressed that the birthparent should have the right to know all information about the adoptive family except their real identities as it was believed to be "better for the child, better for the adopting parents, and better for the natural mother" that she not know the names, addresses and other information about the adoptive parents however, in the case where the birthparent is insistent, this article held that they should be given this information after having notified the adoptive parents that their anonymity would be terminated. During 1968 legislation was enacted that protected adoptive parents from learning the adopted child's surname. It is stated that: "...the actions of those state governments that foreclosed adult adoptee access to birth records in the thirty years after 1960 may be understood as a part of what Professor Lessig calls a 'defensive construction' of social meanings, that is, an attempt to 'preserv[e] an old meaning' when it is threatened." (Samuels, 2001) the logic of the time appears to be that "adoption was a perfect and complete substitute for the creation of families through childbirth. The new birth certificate issued after adoption substituted the adoptive parents' names for the birth parents' names, which showed the adopting parents as holding the place of the biological parents. The social understanding of adoption was based on the notion that "young, white unmarried mothers, by giving up their babies for adoption, could overcome the psychological problems that had led to their predicaments and make fresh starts in their lives." (Samuels, 2001)

During the 1940s and 1950s the theory purported concerning out-of-wedlock pregnancies among white women was that the pregnancy was a "form of sexual acting out of unconscious needs and as such was seen as an expression of unresolved parent-child conflicts... [and it was assumed that the unplanned pregnancy]...represented significant psychopathology in the mother." (Samuels, 2001) the cure for the white unmarried mother included three steps including the steps of: (1) "remorse"; (2) relinquishment of the baby for adoption; and (3) "a renewed commitment to fulfilling her destiny as a real woman." (Samuels, 2001)

Samuels (2001) relates that the literature relating to birth mothers who gave up rights to their children via adoption "suffer long-term psychological consequences and many desire information about or contact with their surrendered children." Furthermore, biological parents have been shown by studies to be very open and positive about being contacted by their adult children. In a 1990 survey which focused on the psychological effects of adoption upon birthmothers state findings "consistent with previous professional documentation of profound and protracted grief reactions, depress, and an enduring preoccupation with and worry about the welfare of the child..." (Samuels, 2001) the truth is that giving up a child for adoption is an unbearable loss for many mothers who were unable to "put the experience behind them" and later emerged "from long years of silence to express sorrow, anger and regret." (Samuels, 2001) Studies conducted report that approximately 90% of all birth mothers are receptive to meeting their adult children and that most welcome the opportunity.

Summary and Conclusion

It is clear that birthparents have not been historically protected in any form from the aftermath emotions and psychological effects of surrendering their child to adoption and in fact that the protections provided in the adoption process were geared toward protection of children from the stigma of their birthparent's circumstances and protection of the adoptive parents from being harassed or disturbed by the birth parent as well as protecting the adoptive parents from the fear of losing the child to the birth parent. It has been noted in research and related in this study the inherent wrongness of the view held traditionally by society relating to adoption and the release of information concerning birthparents to adopted children and the release of information concerning adopted children to the birthparents and how this has caused irreparable damage to the lives of individuals, who, if given only a little pertinent information concerning the welfare of their surrendered child might have been able to find a peaceful existence but whom were instead, doomed to live with uncertainty. Protection relating to adoption should end at the time the child is an adult because the purpose for the adoption has been realized in that the child has been given the opportunity for a better life than the birthparent believed they could provide. While there are cases in which the birthparent had little or no feeling for the loss of the child, the overwhelming majority of cases have been shown to be characterized by a love that is so unselfish that the birthparent bore a loss that is great in order to provide the child with a fair chance in life. Is the reward for such unselfishness sufficiently provided in untold grief, incessant worry, and a void concerning information relating to the child's welfare and well-being? Emphatically no, this is a poor reward for a parent that has unselfishly surrendered their child to adoptive parents for the purpose of bettering the life of the child. The inequity of adoption laws has been historically noted in this work as well as has the failure of the legal system in protecting the birthparent from suffering associated with denial of information as to their child's well-being. It is the belief of this researcher that provisions for adult disclosure of birthparent information and identification should be inclusive in laws and regulations governing adoptions in order to protect the individual who has everything to lose, and specifically for protection of the birthparent.


Feast, J.,…[continue]

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