Our Mission

Bastard Nation advocates for the civil and human rights of adult citizens who were adopted as children. Millions of North Americans are prohibited by law from accessing personal records that pertain to their historical, genetic and legal identities. Such records are held by their governments in secret and without accountability, due solely to the fact that they were adopted.
Bastard Nation campaigns for the restoration of their right to access their records. The right to know one’s identity is primarily a political issue directly affected by the practice of sealed records adoptions. Please join us in our efforts to end a hidden legacy of shame, fear and venality.

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bytes: read about the adoptee experience


Andersen, Robert. Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted. Badger Hill Press, 1993.

Colwell, Robert. Love Leaves No Regrets: An Insightful View of Displaced Children Through the Eyes of a Former Foster Child. Duncan & Duncan, 1996.

Franklin, Lynn C. with Elizabeth Ferber. May the Circle Be Unbroken: An Intimate Journey into the Heart of Adoption. Harmony Books, 1998.

Gediman, Judith. Birthbond: Reunions Between Birthparents and Adoptees – What Happens After. New Horizon Press, 1991.

Kirk, H. David. Shared Fate: A Theory and Method of Adoptive Relationships. Ben-Simon Pub., 1984.

Kirk, H. David. Adoptive Kinship: A Modern Institution in Need of Reform. Ben-Simon Pub., 1985.

Kirk, H. David.. Looking Back, Looking Forward: An Adoptive Father’s Sociological Testament. Perspectives Press, 1995.

Lifton, Betty Jean. Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience. HarperCollins, 1988.

Lifton, Betty Jean. Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. Basic Books, 1995.

Lifton, Betty Jean. Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter. McGraw-Hill, 1975

Mason, Mary Martin and Daryl Parks. Designing Rituals of Adoption: For the Religious and Secular Community. Resources for Adoptive Parents, 1995.

Maxtone-Graham, Katrina. An Adopted Woman. Remi Books, 1983.

McKenzie, Richard. The Home: A Memoir of Growing Up in an Orphanage. Basic Books, 1996.

McKinley, Catherine E. The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts. Counterpoint, 2002.

Nelson-Erichsen, Jean and Heino R. Ericksen. Butterflies in the Wind: Spanish/Indian Children With White Parents. Los Niños International, 1992.

Paton, Jean. The Adopted Break Silence. Orphan Voyage, 1954.

Rosenberg, Maxine. Growing Up Adopted. McMillan Pub., 1989.


Saffian, Sarah. Ithaka: A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found. Basic Books, 1998.


Schooler, Jayne. Searching For A Past: The Adopted Adult’s Unique Process of Finding Identity. Pinion Press, 1995.

Severson, Randy. Adoption: Philosophy and Experience. House of Tomorrow, 1994.

Simon, Rita J. and Howard Alstein. Adoption, Race, and Identity: From Infancy Through Adolescence. Praeger Pub Text, 1992.

Skolnick, Sharon and Manny Skolnick. Where Courage Is Like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage. University of Nebraska Press, 1998.


Snodgrass, Ginni D. Tell Me No More Secrets, No More Lies: Life as an Adoptee. G.S. Enterprise, 1990.


Strauss, Jean A. S. Birthright: The Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birthparents and Adoptive Parents. Penguin Press, 1994.

Wadia-Ells, Susan (Editor). Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories. Seal Press Feminist Pub., 1995.

©2003. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

bytes: whose right to privacy?



  • Sealed records proponents claim that birth parents have a right to remain anonymous from their relinquished (now adult) children, and that this stems from the constitutional “right to privacy.” Generally, however, the courts have determined the right to privacy to mean protection of individuals from government intrusion, not the right of one individual to remain anonymous from another.
  • Birth parents (or other family members as some legislators have claimed) should not have special rights. The right to privacy is not the same as a right to secrecy. No one has a constitutional right to anonymity from another person.
  • Adoptees do not want special rights. They only want what everyone else can take for granted. They should be able to access their original state-held birth certificates in the same manner as all other adult citizens.
  • It’s really adoptees’ rights to privacy that are being violated. An original birth certificate belongs to the person whose history it records. It does NOT belong to that person’s parents.
  • OBC access does not violate a birth parent’s privacy rights because there is no public disclosure. Only the adoptee whose birth occasioned the creation of the original birth certificate would have access to it.
  • The original birth certificate was not sealed to protect the identity of the birth parent. The original birth certificate is sealed upon the decree of adoption, not upon the birth parent’s relinquishment. If protection of the birth parent were intended, the original birth certificate would be sealed upon termination of her ior his legal relationship to the child, not at the beginning of the legal relationship of the adoptive family. Even today, with records still sealed in most states in the U.S., birth parents must consider their responses to being found, since anonymity could never be guaranteed.
  • Birth parents give up their legal relationship with their children when they sign irrevocable relinquishment documents. The state must not allow birth parents to reappear decades  later and make encumbrances upon the civil and human rights of adult adoptees.
  • Only a tiny handful of birth parents want to conceal their identities from their children. Their possible embarrassment does not outweigh the civil and human rights of millions of U.S. citizens to their identity and to equal protection under the law.
  • There is no real conflict of interest between birth parents and adoptees. The apparent conflict is a creation of the opposition to OBC access, primarily a section of the adoption industry, which fears its past misdeeds coming to light and of special interest groups who use adoption secrecy to promote their own agendas which have little or nothing to do with adoption.
©2012. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

Bytes: pro-live conservative endorses open records


Opening birth records does not cause a rise in abortion rates. We have often heard the opposite argument coming from those involved in the adoption industry and from a few pro-life proponents. When questioned, their position is explained by stating that they have counseled birth mothers who would rather abort than face the possibility that their child may, one day, come looking for them. They state that it is better to save one child than to risk causing the abortion by opening birth records. This reasoning is, at the very least, one-sided and narrow. The argument is, at the most, extreme and haphazard.

Birth mothers have also stated that they would rather abort than face the possibility that their adoptees would not have the right to choose contact. Some past birth mothers have traveled to states where birth records were not sealed so that their child would have the right to choose. One must agree, then, that those who demand to seal the birth records also place potential adoptees in danger. They sensationalize their argument to stir up emotion without considering that their position, in some cases, also leads to abortion.

Kansas and Alaska have long enjoyed the status of being open records states and also have some of the lowest abortion rates in the nation. When my home state, Alabama, opened their birth records to adoptees. Women have not run screaming to the abortion clinics. In fact, there has been very little opposition or even notice that the birth records were opened. It would seem that whether or not a state has unsealed their birth records to adoptees has very little bearing on a woman’s decision about abortion.

The current trend in America is for unwed mothers to keep their babies, or to opt for open adoption. Society has changed and the social stigmas once attached to unwed mothers are lifting. The result is a fall in the rate of traditional adoptions. We believe that the adoption industry is more upset about this fact than they are about abortion. The fact that open adoptions have become so popular with young birth mothers seems to prove that these women wish to be more involved in the adoption process, not to join some fictional birth mother witness protection program.

If one thinks logically through the argument of whether or not open records lead to abortions, one must conclude that the truth does not exist in the extreme. The truth does not exist in the scare tactics used by those who are only concerned with producing more adoptable children. The truth abides in the fact that adoptees who have already grown into responsible adults are treated as though they are dangerous criminals and are denied the simple right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificates.

The Reverend Jeff Gilbreath
Ordained Southern Baptist Minister,
Pro-life advocate, conservative Repubican voter,
and husband of an adoptee.

©2012. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

bytes: opposition


Organized opposition to adoptee rights represents the full range of political ideology in the United States, from the far-right Christian conservatism of Catholic  Bishops and the Family Research Council to the left-liberalism of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The enemies of adoptee rights fall into two basic categories.

Ideological opponents

Planned Parenthood and anti-abortion organizations such as Right to Life oppose open records because they feel that access to, or frequency of, abortion will be affected by changes in the law. In fact, abortion rates do not increase in states and countries with open records. Abortion rates are not relevant to adoptee rights.

State chapters of the ACLU have used a tortured argument based on non-existent privacy rights that neither the general public nor legislators have taken very seriously.

Industrial opponents

The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) is a national organization employing full-time paid lobbyists who claim to speak for waiting children, adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. In reality, they speak for many of the major adoption agencies in this country. NCFA has a long history of opposition to adoptee access to their own records, and in fact was founded in 1980 by politically influential adoption agencies such as The Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas, specifically to lobby against records access and other challenges to the secret and closed adoption system. In recent years, NCFA has aligned itself with ultra-conservative organizations and individuals. It has taken funds from the Scaife Family Foundation and the Bradley Foundation, and its former  president, Thomas Atwood, was previously with the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council and served as the Treasurer of Pat Robertson’s Presidential Exploratory team. In the last couple of years, under new leadership,  NCFA has backed down from its traditional hardline stance and now promotes mutual access.

The adoption industry’s primary concern, however, is trade protection. In the years since Bastard Nation has shifted the discourse of adoptee rights from psychologically based pleas to straightforward assertions of civil rights, the rhetoric of the industrial opposition has shifted in reaction, revealing an honest apprehension of tort liability and systemic accountability. Remember, adoption is big business, and those who are involved in the business of adoption will always be looking out for themselves!

As ultraconservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and Family Research Council heavily promote adoption as a primary remedy to a gallery of perceived social ills, large constituency churches (including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,) and their auxiliary organizations including church oriented social service agencies and crisis pregnancy centers have entered the adoption industry to facilitate their theologically based social policies.

Other organizations that oppose open records are: The American Center for Law and Justice; The Christian Broadcasting Network; The American Life League; The National Right to Life Committee, The Christian Coalition; The Eagle Forum; The Family Research Council, and   the Knights of Columbus. Increasingly we see special interest groups which have nothing to do with adoption use adoption to further their own agendas.

The opponents do not tell you what they are really afraid of:

  • Open records will reveal a vast array of unsavory practices that adoption agencies and private individuals have practiced in the past when facilitating adoptions.
  • Open records will scare away some prospective adoptive parents who are fearful of their adoptive children ever having any contact with their birth families.

Instead, the opponents substitute more “socially acceptable” excuses for keeping records sealed:

  • Birth mothers were promised confidentiality from their children. Not true!
  • Adult adoptees will return to sit on the doorsteps and stalk their birth mothers. Not true!
  • Adoption is too sensitive an issue for adult adoptees to handle on their own. They need the assistance of “intermediaries” – social workers who will look at the original birth records and decide what information should be imparted to adult citizens who were adopted. Not true!

The opponents of open records want the states to maintain the status quo of secrets and lies.

Adult adoptees want the states to return the truth to their adopted adult citizens.


©2013. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

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