' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: ACLU: Right on Kaepernick, wrong on adoptee and first mother rights

Friday, September 16, 2016

ACLU: Right on Kaepernick, wrong on adoptee and first mother rights

"We support Colin Kaepernick and every other American who has defended an unpopular opinion." So tweets ACLU National. (And we do too, see our current sidebar.)

The ACLU National support 49ers quarterback Kaepernick's kneel-down during the singing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, but they also support injustice against adoptees. They say they do this for those birth/first mothers who wish to remain secret from their children. Baloney. If that is their argument for being such a stand-up partner to adoptee injustice, they are ignoring what they actually support.

We understand that a few states support adoptee rights, but we do not know which ones. However, the ACLU in several states, including New York and New Jersey, support the stripping of a basic right to self-knowledge to an entire class of people, yet self-awareness in any other circumstance is seen as a positive, not a negative. 

The ACLU supports treating a whole class of people as secondary by refusing them true information about their birth. 

The ACLU supports fake birth certificates which continue not only throughout an individual's lifetime, but in perpetuity.

The ACLU supports treating all adoptees as second-class citizens, who do not have the right to make decisions about themselves for themselves. 

The ACLU supports treating adoptees as if they were always children, never to have the right of full autonomy. 

The ACLU supports the policies that make accurate identification, so important in today's world of threats of terror, difficult for adoptees to establish, since amended birth certificates are seen as questionable by authorities.

The ACLU opposes those natural mothers who had no choice but to go along with a law they did not want. 

The ACLU opposes natural/birth/first mothers who desperately wish to know their children but cannot find them through other means, as long as the original birth certificates remain sealed. 

The ACLU, in the name of protecting a subgroup, continues to marginalize natural mothers who gave up their children during an era of wrong-headed social policy--even when even strong moral voices opposed such laws. 

The ACLU supports the continuation of social engineering that has led to endless grief for millions of both mothers and children. 

While they are doing all this, they claim it is to support those mothers who wish to remain anonymous from their children. But those mothers--unless they too were adopted--always knew their own identity and could answer the question: Who am I? Today, it is no longer good enough to deny someone their identity because it might embarrass someone. It is time to let adoptees be free of the shackles of the past and give them their rights, without restrictions, without caveats, without vetoes. 

I have long suspected that the ACLU's unyielding support of sealed records merely reflects the preferences of the liberals running the organization. Such organizations are no more than the coming together of like-minded individuals, all with their own hopes and prejudices. Those in a position to shape policy may feel that adoption--even closed adoption--should be available to them, should they need it. So they cling to the idea that birth mothers must be "protected" from their children because that narrative suits them.  Or they may know a birth mother who is terrified of being found. Or they, the good studious girls of the past, imagine how they would feel if they had ever had a child out of wedlock and been forced to give it up. What would people think? 

So who runs the ACLU? Susan N. Herman is the current president, elected in 2008; she has been on their board of directors for twenty years, and their general counsel for a decade, and their national office is in New York City. The likelihood that she is a stalwart upholder (or the author of) of their anti-adoptee policy of the NY chapter is high. Next thing I'll hear is that she is Helene Weinstein's best friend. (Weinstein is our nemesis in the state legislature, having staunchly opposed any effort to give adoptees their original birth certificates.) Whatever Ms. Herman's thinking, the ACLU's unjust and immoral policy hides the messy truth of adoption: sometimes necessary, always traumatic. Adoption is not a pretty choice for a mother, or a child, and the sealed records insure that the grief and the pain are never ending.

These are the words I would like to bring to Ms. Herman's attention: "Apart from slavery there is no other instance in our laws, or in any other jurisprudence in civilized system of jurisprudence, in which a contract made among adults, in respect of an infant, can bind that child once he reaches his majority." Cyril Means, the (late) attorney on the suit brought by ALMA to unseal birth records for the adopted. We lost the lawsuit on the grounds that unsealing the records would discourage adoptions, something we know is patently false. It is time for the ACLU to get its head into the 21st century and change their policy on civil rights for adoptees and work to undue the harm they have caused in the past. It is time for the ACLU to have a national policy that supports adoptee rights, not an antiquated notion of "birth mother privacy."--lorraine

Recently one of our readers contacted the New York chapter of the ACLU about their policy of defending sealed records. She agreed to let us share it:  
Thank you for contacting the American Civil Liberties Union. 
The ACLU understands that there are many very sensitive issues that come into play for birth parents who give up their children and for the children who are adopted. The ACLU is sympathetic to the needs of each of these groups. However, the ACLU firmly believes that granting adoptees access to original birth documents would violate the confidentiality of the adoptee’s birth parents. 
The civil rights issue at stake here is privacy. Several constitutional amendments protect our freedom to make certain decisions about our bodies and our private lives without interference from the government. The ACLU’s mission is to work to protect the rights and liberties provided for by our Constitution. While we understand the deep desire and need of adoptees to obtain information about their birth parents, there are no constitutional rights to obtaining that information. 
In addition, to be clear, the ACLU does not have an ongoing campaign focused on this issue. However, we get involved when states propose legislation that would open birth records without consideration of the rights of the biological parents.
The ACLU supports laws that respect the importance of an adult adoptee’s access to the medical, genealogical, and social history of their birth parents, information that is helpful to understanding many aspects of a person’s future health and social decisions. 
Nevertheless, throughout the years, numerous women have placed children up for adoption with an understanding that such information would remain confidential. Our organization opposes laws that significantly undermine the privacy rights of birth mothers by potentially revealing a history that a woman wants to keep in the past. 
Allowing the release of identifying information without the consent of the parties involved would alter past jurisprudence and interpretations of existing adoption confidentiality statutes and the intentions of legislators who created such statutes. There must be a balance between the adoptee’s need to know his or her biological parents and the biological parents’ desire for privacy. 
While we realize that this may be a controversial issue and that many may disagree with our position, the ACLU believes that our defense of the privacy of birth parents is consistent with our 96-year history of sticking to our principles even in the face of public criticism.

Thank you again for getting in touch. I hope you find this information helpful.
Let's make some noise ourselves: One email address is membership@aclu.org. For snail mail: ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004.

The above piece was edited (9/17/16) to reflect that some states apparently do support unsealing records. If readers have any knowledge of any state chapter that does, please leave a comment.
TO ORDER (click on the link)
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades  Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

The title says it all...

Split at the Root: A Memoir of Love and Lost Identity by Catana Tully
"Tully, an able storyteller, relates an interesting, enlightening story. ... In engaging, elegant prose, this memoir unveils the blessings and pitfalls of growing up among an ethnicity and a culture different from one's own." -- PW Select review, Publishers Weekly

Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption by Lorraine Dusky
My story with true facts about adoption today. I hope you will laugh at times; I can't do anything about the tears.

Thanks for ordering through FMF.


  1. Ironic that all I once knew about Colin Kaepernick came from you at FMF, about how he declined to meet with his mother Heidi Russo.

    The flag flap came later.

  2. I have already forgotten everything Lorraine wrote about in her post. My blood is boiling after reading that response by the ACLU. I lost count of how many times they repeated the lie about birth mothers being promised privacy.

  3. I understand what the ACLU says about past jurisprudence. It would be decent of the ACLU to speak out on the intrinsic gender bias issues involved in the old system of coercing unmarried mothers to surrender their children for placement with supposed better families. My guess is that the ACLU will NOT do this because it is often professional women who didn't have the time to gestate a baby for nine months who seek to adopt poorer women's children now.

    1. YES! Agreed, that is the absurdity of their position. I totally hold Susan N. Herman and her partner in injustice, Helene B. Weinstein, responsible. They are perpetuating the bias of the past.

    2. And there is this: within the past few years, I attended a discussion on Human Trafficking co-sponsored by the NYS Dept of Social Services, the NY State Police, the NCLU, and the LOWV. Most of the discussion involved prostitution, nail salons, and restaurants. I asked about Craigs list type adoptions and the rehoming of adopted children. The social services rep seemed to nod her head at the word "rehoming" and the State Police were not involved with such cases unless they were called for an abduction, but the NCLU rep said she knew of no trafficking in adoption because the birthmother or surrogate is paid only for her medical and living expenses during the gestational period and no other payments are made. Now I was a grammar school girl when the rudiments of "adoption" were explained to me and I absorbed the theory that no money was paid to the mother because of her altruism or her "sin" which meant she didn't deserve payment AND because it is illegal to sell one person to another. The "thinking" behind the transfer of life from the mother to some other person is carefully calculated to protect the legalisms and not the persons. And the ACLU protects the legalisms as it did in Skokie by defending the Nazi marchers.

  4. The ACLU makes the statement that, "Several constitutional amendments protect our freedom to make certain decisions about our bodies and our private lives without interference from the government".

    The majority of birth parent and adoptee lives CAN BE and ARE being interfered with. It is the very few who say they want "privacy"/no contact. That has been shown in the states that have contact preference forms.

    Since they are so quick to jump into the legislative battle to make certain that less than 1% is "considered", why isn't the ACLU blocking FOREVER the use of DNA testing for all members of and future generations of each birth parent's families?

    Why isn't the ACLU blocking every, any and all family members, friends, and any strangers who have information about the existence of said relationship /existence of baby, forever from ANY AND ALL FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA... and snail mail for that matter? How far to the extreme are they willing to go to make certain that this poor excuse of gross injustice will be upheld!? DNA testing is a happening thing, there is NO privacy or confidentiality that can be upheld with closed adoption records.

    They state, "While we understand the deep desire and NEED (emphesis added) of adoptees to obtain information about their birth parents, there are no constitutional rights to obtaining that information." Didn't they just say that there were several constitutional amendments to protect our freedom to make certain decisions about our bodies and private lives ...? But, according to this position, that does not include the majority who can be 'interfered with'.

    Do they not understand there is NO privacy guarantee with the availability of DNA testing, Facebook, interpersonal communication and sharing of information?

    I can't help but think that they would have stood for slavery to continue, due to their perceived principle of the 'needs' of the few outweighing the needs of the many.

    In regard to Colin Kaepernick, I can't help but wonder if the fact he has not been told who his father is (as I understand it) hasn't caused great distress in considering and worrying if his father may be one man who may have received unjust treatment ..or been killed. He does not know. That must hurt.

  5. Reading this post makes my blood boil. The ACLU is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. The ACLU imagines a conversation that goes like this: Mothers says to social worker, "Unless you promise me that the state will never disclose my name to this child, I'll keep him." Social worker than says "absolutely, the state legislature will never pass a law allowing your child to know your name." The mother says "Very well. Based on your promise, I'll sign the consent." I defy the ACLU to find one mother who had such a conversation.

    Every court that has considered the issue has upheld laws allowing adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates in spite of claims that mothers had a constitutional right to privacy.

    Some ACLU chapters support adoptee access which makes this letter--apparently the position of the national office--even more ridiculous.

    1. And let's not forget the right-wing counterpart to this imagined conversation: Mother says to social worker, "Unless you promise me that the state will never disclose my name to this child, I'll abort him." Social worker than says "absolutely, the state legislature will never pass a law allowing your child to know your name." The mother says "Very well. Based on your promise, I'll refrain from having an abortion and carry the pregnancy to term."

  6. Except that there is NO Constitutional right to privacy. That and I have never yet spoken with a birth parent who signed for privacy. Then what about those birth mothers who can prove they never signed for privacy?? Recently, we pulled up a consent to adoption with no mention of privacy from 1970. What the privacy protects is all those who ran grey and black market adoptions from the Baby Scoop Era. Many of them are...attorneys. In my case in 1968 a Catholic Priest coerced me and sent me to another state. For years the church denied he did adoptions until last year when I asked for an investigation. So far this obscure priest who the church said did not do adoptions, I have found did multiple adoptions from beginning to end of evening signing as witness. All that this privacy does is protect the perpetrators of coercion from that era. And the priest in my case gave babies to well known, wealthy and frequent donators of the church.

  7. Repeating what I put in the last post:
    In 1980, after numerous hearings around the country, the then U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare issued a Model Adoption Act stating: “There can be no legally protected interest in keeping one’s identity secret from one’s biological offspring; parents and child are considered co-owners of the information regarding the event of birth….The birth parents’ interest in reputation is not alone deserving of constitutional protection.”

  8. This makes my blood boil. I may have the luck to have an open adoption but should it ever close I want my children to find me. They have a right to know who they are. The same goes for their biological father who has never been in their lives. He asked once for me to stop telling our kids about him as he didn't want to know them and I flat out refused. My son is 7 and a half years old and my daughter is 4 in a few days. Slowly they start to question me about him and I answer. Despite his lack of contact he does not deserve privacy, my kids deserve to know their history and background! These kids never asked to be adopted, it was the best option I had to still be part of their lives, so I sure as hell won't give him the anonymity he wants.

  9. I am so glad you wrote about this.

    What I want to know is, how and why is the ACLU so comfortable violating the 14th amendment, which it does when it comes to adoptee rights? I am absolutely not being treated equally under the law since, as an adoptee, I am denied my original birth certificate. The sealing and replacement of the truthful record of my birth occurred without my consent and was based on decisions other people made when I was too young to participate in the legal matter. That's why adoptions are done "in re" because one party (yours truly) was incompetent to be part of the legal proceeding.

    On another note, actress Amber Heard has given a huge financial contribution (to the tune of millions of dollars) to the ACLU with her divorce settlement from Johnny Depp. In my opinion, she unnecessarily caved to social media, aka strangers, who were calling her a gold digger, when she announced that she would give her entire 7 million dollar settlement away. Mr. Depp advised his lawyers to give the money directly to the ACLU and the other organization she chose without the money ever going to Ms. Heard at all. So we can also thank her and other liberal Hollywood types for causing further harm to adoptee rights.

  10. "Past jurisprudence" was WRONG. That is all ACLU has got? Gosh, the 1930's and the "baby scoop era" are OVER, folks.

    Anne Johnson
    Potsdam, NY

    1. Anne--Since you sign your comment (thank you!) perhaps you could move from the "Unknown" in the name section. When you comment, where it says, reply as, pull that menu down and choose the "Name/URL" choice. Add your name there. You do not need a URL to use that. It is confusing.

  11. The ACLU fails to realize that, at the moment of birth, a child is a newly-minted U.S. citizen, vested with the same Constitutional rights as his mother. No more and no less. So his rights are independent of his mother's, and ACLU needs to represent his rights separately from hers. Granted, his rights don't include having access to her personal or medical records. But access to HIS OWN document of U.S. citizenship - his authentic birth certificate - is the separate right ACLU owes him support to obtain. Moreover, our laws are not based on oral or assumed "assurances" given to any citizens. Legal documents provide the basis for implementation of our laws.

    The Michigan relinquishment form I signed said that I was "solicitous that said child be cared for or placed in a suitable home by adoption or otherwise." So there was not even an "assurance" that she would be adopted. She could have been placed in an institution or long-term foster home, in which case her authentic birth certificate would have remained in her possession. So how could I have been guaranteed "confidentiality" by the State of Michigan? Additionally, my relinquishment document stated that: "...having signed this release I thereby lose any and all rights in, to and concerning said child forever." Notice I didn't just relinquish physical custody of my daughter. I gave up all rights to every document that would be generated, filed, archived, or released for any purpose whatsoever in conjunction with her birth, adoption, "or otherwise." I wasn't even accorded a copy of the document I signed.

    So for ACLU to manufacture a frivolous argument for failing to fight for the rights of an entire segment of U.S. citizens, it is nothing short of a mockery of justice.

    1. Even though the state said that mothers lost "all parental rights forever" on a Michigan relinquishment form, the state could, among other alternatives, restore parental rights if it so chose. States have returned children to their birth parents in a number of situations, even when stating that parental rights were "terminated forever."

      Parental rights are not life-long in any case, and adult-children should be free to associate with whomever they choose. We are all someone's adult-children and our parents do not have the "right" to tell us with whom to associate.
      This is a basic "First Amendment" right.

      This is difficult to do with sealed records and falsified birth certificates hiding identities. The culture of "privacy regarding the hiding of names" has created a culture of fear that has extended beyond the original "fear and loathing baby scoop era."

  12. @adoption digger: where does it say on your relinquishment form that you gave up all rights to every document you signed in regard to the birth of your daughter or her adoption,relinquishment, etc.?
    My documents were from California in the 1960s.

    I have copies of nearly all of the documents I signed when I was pregnant, and when I surrendered my son. I did not "give up" the rights to those documents.They are legal documents, as well as medical ones.
    If you actually did sign something that said you were giving up your right to your signed legal documents, that would be a violation of your legal due process rights, and your medical rights to your medical history.

    1. "....thereby lose any and all rights in, to and concerning said child forever." I wasn't signing away my right to "every document I signed". But from the moment I signed that document, I had no control over anything pertaining to my child's care, placement, adoption, or any other matter. If I was to retain any rights over documentation regarding any of those things, it would have needed to be spelled out on the relinquishment. "In, to and concerning" clearly includes everything necessary to obtain care, either temporarily or permanently, for my daughter. In other words, anything and everything having to do with my daughter from that day forward was out of my control - and none of my business.

  13. Actually, a US newborn child does not have the same "constitutional rights" as ever other US citizen. Some rights as "status" rights, that is, they have to do with the age of the person.

    Children do not have the right to vote, for example. That will be a right they will be granted upon reaching adulthood. Children are not "independent" in the sense that adults are independent. Children are in the custody of adults. This is why birth certificates are initially issued to the children's parents/ and/or those who have an interest/ connection to the registrant.

    The OBC, for every person, is filed by the government because the idea and purpose for birth certificates was started by the government in the first place.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. Rights withheld from a child until age of majority are restored to him at that time. And therein lies the ACLU's faulty thinking. They assume that because a child's birth certificate is handed over to adults for safekeeping during his minor years, that means they have perpetual ownership of those documents. Not to so. Can you imagine the reaction of a non-adoptee if he needed his birth certificate for college and his mother withheld it from him because she considered it hers? And even if she did try that, because he was then 18, he could just apply or his birth certificate on his own. She would have no right over it. So why should an adult person who was born into one family but adopted into another be treated differently than a non-adoptee?

      When the mother signs away her rights to parent, she signs away only her OWN rights, not those of her child. And yes, the government started the issuance of birth certificates, documents which now are considered necessary for proof of identity, eligibility, and other legal purposes. For the government to deny one segment of the population access to those necessary documents is a miscarriage of justice.

    2. "Can you imagine the reaction of a non-adoptee if he needed his birth certificate for college and his mother withheld it from him because she considered it hers? And even if she did try that, because he was then 18, he could just apply or his birth certificate on his own. She would have no right over it. So why should an adult person who was born into one family but adopted into another be treated differently than a non-adoptee?"

      I get what you are saying here, adoption digger, but it isn't quite accurate. The mother is not the one who is "witholding the adoptees'original birth certificate"...it is the government. And, if the adoptive mother of an adopted person tries to with-hold the legal (amended) birth certificate, the adoptee can also apply for another copy, if he or she needs one for something....if he or she is an adult.

      I don't support sealed birth certificates. I don't support amended birth certificates. I don't support hiding members of the "adoption triad" from each other.
      Adoptees are not special people and neither are birth or adoptive parents.

  14. The above piece was edited (9/17/16) to reflect that some state chapters of the ALLU apparently do support unsealing records. If readers have any knowledge of any state chapter that does, please share the information here in a comment.

    1. This was one chapter, way back in 1987. I don't think this chapter exists anymore. But at the time, it went on record in support of access laws.

    2. The SW Florida Chapter (policy statement below) and I believe the Michigan ACLU.

      The Rights of Adult Adopted Persons
      Policy Statement

      Adopted April 21, 1987
      SW Florida Chapter of the ACLU

      This chapter agrees with the policy statement accepted by the Oakland County Chapter (Michigan Affiliate) and hereby accepts their policy which has been adapted to conform to Florida.

      In recent years, the issue of adoption has increased in complexity and has involved the interest and efforts of the courts, social agencies, and media. A person adopted in infancy, unfortunately continues to be referred to as an “adopted child” even after reaching adulthood. If this person chooses (or in some cases needs) to discover his or her birthparents or birth records, they find such records are sealed by the courts and are inaccessible.

      Historically this was considered to be for the protection of privacy, and maintenance of secrecy was ostensibly for the good of all involved. However, careful scrutiny of adoption statutes and practices has indicated that legal changes are necessary, and that civil liberties of adopted adults are being violated in the absence of any state or national policy on this matter, and with the belief that adopted persons should be treated no differently than other citizens, the Southwest Florida Chapter Board has
      voted to endorse the following policy:

      “Numerous states have laws or procedures which impede the ability of adopted adults, their birthparents and other relatives to ascertain each others’ identities. The ACLU believes that so long as state and/or local governments choose to maintain birth records, such records must be maintained and accessible without discrimination by virtue of adopted or non-adopted status.

      Toward this end, the ACLU believes that laws suppressing information about adoptees and/or their birthparents, and laws allowing access to such information only upon consent or registration, or laws allowing access to such information only upon court order, deny adopted persons, their birthparents, and their relatives equal protection of the laws and constitutes unwarranted interference by the government with the right of people to choose whether to associate.”

      The political debate on the adoption issue has tended to be framed in terms of psychological issues; emotional issues; medical issues and sociological issues. The above policy confines itself to a civil liberties analysis.

      Respectfully submitted,

      Nancy Stone Farley
      Chapter Chair SW Florida, ACLU

    3. While I agree with all the points in this blog post, I don't understand the language in your last paragraph. When you say "some states do support unsealing records", are you talking about state legislatures? Or ACLU affiliates?

      I am on my state ACLU board of directors, and also an officer. The ACLU does not have chapters across the country; we have "state affiliates", and each of these is able to set policy independent of the national ACLU. A couple of state affiliates have local county chapters, but this is rare. My state does.

      There is no longer a SW Florida chapter of the Florida ACLU, and in any case, local chapters have no power to set policy. This is exclusively done at the state or national level by their respective boards of directors.

      I will be glad to research what position, if any, my affiliate takes on adoptee rights, and introduce a proposal to ensure that we are on the right side of justice. I concur with the ACLU official who stated that the constitution always governs; I just have a different take on whose rights take precedence in our constitution.

    4. Eric Stone, thank you for clarifying how the ACLU is organized. Instead of "chapters" I will use state affiliates. Our anger directed at the ACLU comes from the fact that in several states when there is a legislative push to give adoptees their original birth certificates, the ACLU comes forward with a campaign to oppose that on the grounds that it violates the so-called "right to privacy" that a women who relinquishes has. But how on god's given earth can they equate a woman's right not to be embarrassed by her past deeds (paternity suits did not allow for a "right to privacy") while in granting that they ignore the obviously stronger right is that of an individual to know who he was at birth. It is human engineering; bad social policy left over from another era. Humans are not tadpoles, they are self-aware, they have an inviolate right to know who they are and who gave birth to them. The only reason they don't know is that they were too young to be taking notes when they were born. If you can knock some intellectual sense into the body of the ACLU, you would be doing the world a great service.

      The ACLU is governed by the same ideology that worships adoption as A Good Thing; and on this issue--because it is convenient to the membership--falls back on age old stereotypes about women and sex. And it is wrong, unjust, immoral on very level. If you have further thoughts on how we can stop the ACLU from being the opposition to an ally, or wish to talk further about this, email me at forumfirstmother@gmail.com.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. @BonBon,

    Good letter!!

    I wonder if ACLU can even understand a mother visiting her child in foster care because she actually might not want to lose her child.

    ACLU seems to think that adoption is a "reproductive right" and that mothers cannot wait to give away kids...at least that is what they implied to me when I spoke with them some years ago. It was a discouraging conversation.
    But,then, they do not know much about it.
    Your mother visited you, she saw you, and was probably like most of us, trying to find a way to keep and raise you. Foster care bought her some time. And it gave her a chance to see and visit with you.

  17. Thanks, Lorraine. I agree we have to make some noise. Here's my email:

    My respect for the work of the American Civil Liberties Union is severely damaged. I am a 67 year old adoptee. And you believe I do not have a right to my original birth certificate? You should be ashamed to call yourself a civil liberties union.

    My birth mother relinquished me to foster care. There was no such thing as a privacy agreement. In fact, according to my non-identifying information, she visited me in foster care. Had I not been adopted but remained in foster care, I would have kept the name she gave me along with my original birth certificate. Then, months later, upon adoption, again there was no promise of privacy. Where do you get that idea? How, in God's name, can you justify the denial of an original birth certificate to an adult simply because you think her birth mother wanted privacy forever and ever, even after her death, according to a document that never existed?

    If you are protecting a few self-absorbed or misinformed individuals, then I suggest you do the responsible thing and think it through on your own, as a civil liberties union, and not stray from fundamental human rights. How many more adult adoptees will die without knowing their heritage before you think this through and advocate for our civil rights?

  18. Regarding guaranteed anonymity and privacy to first mothers, there was absolutely nothing in the adoption papers that guaranteed that. This has been proven by a rather thorough study of those documents. See: Elizabeth J. Samuels, Surrender and Subordination: Birth Mothers and Adoption Law Reform, 20 Mich. J. Gender & L. 33 (2013). Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol20/iss1/2 Prof. Samuels is a law professor at the University of Baltimore. So I'd say the ACLU's research arm appears to be rather sloppy, or they are hell bent on a certain agenda regardless of the evidence.

    Besides, even if they wanted to, there is no way anyone could legally make such a guarantee, even before the internet & DNA. There are always ways to follow the paper trail and those who can afford to, hired a detective.

  19. I think the real issue is that adoptive parents want to be assured that the birth parents will never interfere in their adoptive family. I think Bon Bon's comments make it very clear that that was the real agenda - not the protection of birth mothers' privacy.

  20. The ACLU responded to my email with the same points Cindy quoted in her comment Sept. 16th. It is all so disrespectful, that I felt I had to respond. Here is my response back to Kitt Abad kabad@aclu.org.

    Thank you for getting back to me. However, I am more shocked and dismayed now than I was before. I am very disappointed that the ACLU positions itself against adult adoptees who want their original birth certificates.

    You state, "...throughout the years, numerous women have placed children up for adoption with an understanding that such information would remain confidential." What does this understanding look like? Is it a written document, a contract, an audio tape, or notes taken at an agency? If so, please send me examples. How do you know that birth mothers wanted their privacy protected - and from whom? Again, please show me the proof you have for your belief.

    This issue is monumental and needs your support. If you can't prove your position with documentation then I urge you to revisit your stance. Please study current research, and connect the dots with facts instead of unproven "understandings." A human being's identity cannot be denied--one's heritage and DNA cannot be erased and replaced with another family's like images on a white board.

    There are many books now written by adult adoptees that articulate the effects of stolen identity and the need for open records.

    This is a matter of civil rights, and therefore, the ACLU needs to address it.

  21. Civil rights/human rights. As treated now, it seems the majority of mothers and adoptees are not considered human. Human beings, with the same needs and wants for emotional, mental and physical health and well-being as the rest of the population. Are we only half human? 3/5th's human? Those who work to keep records closed do not understand the great mental, emotional, and physical turmoil that is caused by this practice of closed records. This practice of not allowing a human being to know HOW they belong to the tribe of man. When opening the records would cure much of that suffering.

    I have said, to some folks I know, that closed records (the 'not knowing how, where or who the missing family member/s are') is adoption kryptonite. Closed records and not knowing takes enormous amounts of strength and energy from a person. That energy all spent on wondering, searching, and desperately needing to know...something. The energy spent grieving something precious lost/missing.

    Those who wish to keep "promises" they say were made to certain mothers, fine. Search out those mother's who were promised (*surely* those who made the promises **know** who those mothers are. /sarc.) and protect them from being contacted or having their information revealed. Then open the rest of the records fully.

    What?? You can't remember who you made the promises to? Don't you have a written contract that states the mother's privacy will be forever protected? You don't? Well then, for the same reasons that open adoptions are not and cannot be protected/kept open, by verbal promises made by the parties, you cannot keep these records closed by promises said to be made to some mothers. Can we really choose which so-called verbal promises will be kept and simply toss the rest out the window and call that JUSTICE?

    I frankly think it was pompous, condescension that made the words of "no-one will ever know about this" come out of the mouths of the self-righteous folk involved, that saw unmarried motherhood as the 'unpardonable' sin. (Which it is NOT.) The mothers themselves didn't have *anything* to do with said "promise". I don't know any that wanted or asked for "privacy". That's not to say that the -forever after shaming- we all received didn't work a number on us. Oh yeah.

  22. Privacy is a sugarcoated version of dirty secret. The ACLU sees adoptees as dirty secrets, therefore the ACLU sees adoptees not as people, but as products, therefore the ACLU has the same thinking as slave owners of the 1800s who saw Blacks not as people but as products. Therefore why is the ACLU in business?



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