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.

Home » Search Results for ",":

The Mythology of the Right of Privacy as Justifying Birth Parent Anonymity in Adoptions

The Myth of the Right to Privacy as Justifying Birth Parent Anonymity in Adoptions

Proponents of sealed adoption records often argue that a birth parent’s right to privacy justifies letting them stay anonymous in adoption records. That notion overextends the constitutional “right to privacy.” It also misrepresents the meaning of “confidentiality” in adoption records, a mistake we must not make.

The United States Supreme Court addressed the right to parental privacy in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973):

• During the first trimester of pregnancy, the abortion decision must be left to the judgment of the woman’s attending physician.

• During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion in ways reasonably related to maternal health.

• During the third trimester (viability), the state may forbid abortion except where needed to preserve the mother’s health. Id. at 163-165.

Roe v. Wade has been modified to the extent of requiring an undue burden test. But its main holding remains: By late pregnancy, the mother’s wishes are inferior to the state’s interest in preserving the infant’s health. Thus, parents lack a constitutional right to stay anonymous in the adoption context. Having open adoption records, for example, “does not impede traditional familial privacy rights such as marrying, having children, or raising children.” Doe v. Sundquist, 2 S.W.3d 919, 926 (Tenn. 1999). And: “Because a birth mother has no fundamental right under the federal Constitution to have her child adopted, she also can have no correlative fundamental right to have her child adopted under circumstances that guarantee that her identity will not be revealed to the child.” Does 1-7 v. State, 993 P.2d 822, 836 (Or. Ct. App. 1999). Anonymity, therefore, is not constitutionally required under any theory.

In fact, the United States Supreme Court rejected the notion that anonymity was needed to achieve privacy in sensitive proceedings. In Ohio v. Akron Center, 497 U.S. 502 (1990), the Court held that it was constitutional and necessary to require a minor seeking an abortion to identify herself when asking the court to bypass notice to her parents:

“…[W]e do not find complete anonymity critical. H.B. 319 takes reasonable steps to prevent the public from learning of the minor’s identity….H.B. 319, like many sophisticated judicial procedures, requires participants to provide identifying information for administrative purposes, not for public disclosure.” Id. at 513.

In addition, the only state court that has yet dealt with the constitutionality of anonymity in child surrender found a parent’s statutory right to remain anonymous unconstitutional for hindering court procedure. In re Baby Boy Doe, 880 N.E.2d 989 (Ohio Com. Pl. 2007). Ohio juvenile proceedings remain confidential, however.

Confidentiality in adoptions, therefore, can serve a legitimate interest. But it differs from anonymity, which is improper where the potentially opposing interests of parties must be balanced. Adoption proceedings, like the notice bypass proceedings in Akron Center, are sophisticated judicial procedures. As such, they require participants to give identifying information for administrative and other procedural purposes, even if not for public disclosure.

Opinions differ on whether adoption information should be open. But do not be misled by those who portray “anonymous” and “confidential” as synonyms. They want the public to blur the concepts and thereby lose the ability to differentiate between laws that aim to protect and laws that aim to tyrannize.

Erik L. Smith

[Erik L. Smith earned a law degree from the University of Dayton in 2012 after having worked as a certified paralegal for several years. He has published several articles on the internet and in hard copy publications such as Ohio Lawyer, Air Force Law Review, Probate Law Journal of Ohio, Adoption Today, and Midwifery Today.]

2012 Erik L. Smith. Published by Bastard Nation with premission

Share This!

The Myth of the Right to Privacy as Justifying Birth Parent Anonymity in Adoptions

The Myth of the Right to Privacy as Justifying Birth Parent Anonymity in Adoptions

Proponents of sealed adoption records often argue that a birth parent’s right to privacy justifies letting them stay anonymous in adoption records. That notion overextends the constitutional “right to privacy.” It also misrepresents the meaning of “confidentiality” in adoption records, a mistake we must not make.

The United States Supreme Court addressed the right to parental privacy in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973):

• During the first trimester of pregnancy, the abortion decision must be left to the judgment of the woman’s attending physician.

• During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion in ways reasonably related to maternal health.

• During the third trimester (viability), the state may forbid abortion except where needed to preserve the mother’s health. Id. at 163-165.

Roe v. Wade has been modified to the extent of requiring an undue burden test. But its main holding remains: By late pregnancy, the mother’s wishes are inferior to the state’s interest in preserving the infant’s health. Thus, parents lack a constitutional right to stay anonymous in the adoption context. Having open adoption records, for example, “does not impede traditional familial privacy rights such as marrying, having children, or raising children.” Doe v. Sundquist, 2 S.W.3d 919, 926 (Tenn. 1999). And: “Because a birth mother has no fundamental right under the federal Constitution to have her child adopted, she also can have no correlative fundamental right to have her child adopted under circumstances that guarantee that her identity will not be revealed to the child.” Does 1-7 v. State, 993 P.2d 822, 836 (Or. Ct. App. 1999). Anonymity, therefore, is not constitutionally required under any theory.

In fact, the United States Supreme Court rejected the notion that anonymity was needed to achieve privacy in sensitive proceedings. In Ohio v. Akron Center, 497 U.S. 502 (1990), the Court held that it was constitutional and necessary to require a minor seeking an abortion to identify herself when asking the court to bypass notice to her parents:

“…[W]e do not find complete anonymity critical. H.B. 319 takes reasonable steps to prevent the public from learning of the minor’s identity….H.B. 319, like many sophisticated judicial procedures, requires participants to provide identifying information for administrative purposes, not for public disclosure.” Id. at 513.

In addition, the only state court that has yet dealt with the constitutionality of anonymity in child surrender found a parent’s statutory right to remain anonymous unconstitutional for hindering court procedure. In re Baby Boy Doe, 880 N.E.2d 989 (Ohio Com. Pl. 2007). Ohio juvenile proceedings remain confidential, however.

Confidentiality in adoptions, therefore, can serve a legitimate interest. But it differs from anonymity, which is improper where the potentially opposing interests of parties must be balanced. Adoption proceedings, like the notice bypass proceedings in Akron Center, are sophisticated judicial procedures. As such, they require participants to give identifying information for administrative and other procedural purposes, even if not for public disclosure.

Opinions differ on whether adoption information should be open. But do not be misled by those who portray “anonymous” and “confidential” as synonyms. They want the public to blur the concepts and thereby lose the ability to differentiate between laws that aim to protect and laws that aim to tyrannize.

Erik L. Smith JD

[Erik L. Smith earned a law degree from the University of Dayton in 2012 after having worked as a certified paralegal for several years. He has published several articles on the internet and in hard copy publications such as Ohio Lawyer, Air Force Law Review, Probate Law Journal of Ohio, Adoption Today, and Midwifery Today. He currently practices law in Columbus, Ohio.

©2012. Erik L. Smith.  Published with permission of author.

Print Article Print Article

bytes: quotations

QUOTATIONS

“In a democratic society like ours, relief must come through an aroused popular conscience that sears the conscience of the people’s representatives.” – U S Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter

“Our constitution… neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal under the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.” – U. S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Reformers who are always compromising have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“… a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – John F. Kennedy

“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man’s lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the people, the whole people, who formed the Union.” – Susan B. Anthony

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

“If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.” – Carl Schurz

“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.” – Aristotle

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Please call me by my true name so that I can wake up.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” – Sir Walter Scott

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” – Aristotle

“The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself. – Robert Ingersoll

“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

©2003. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
www.bastards.org

bytes: internet resources

INTERNET RESOURCES

INTERNATIONAL SOUNDEX REUNION REGISTRY: the oldest and largest free reunion registry of its kind. You can request a free registration form via mail or telephone. I.S.R.R., P.O. Box 2312, Carson City, Nevada 89702-2312, (775) 882-7755.http://www.ISRR.com/

SHEA’S SEARCH SERIES: An excellent 6-part series of articles on the “how-to’s” of adoption search geared towards adoptees, but also useful to birth families.

HOW TO FIND PERSONAL SUPPORT GROUPS

  • U.S.A.: http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/faq-2.html
  • U.S.A.: http://www.webreflection.com/aiml/aimlring.html
  • Canada: http://www.canadopt.ca/
  • International: http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/faq-3.html
  • Classified telephone directory – “adoption”

 

ONLINE REGISTRIES

C.A.R.E., the Coalition for Adoption Registry Ethics, has stringent standards for endorsement and all C.A.R.E. online registries are free. http://www.plumsite.com/care/

NATIONAL INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ASSOCIATION: www.nicwa.org

VOLUNTEER SEARCH NETWORK: Volunteer Search Network ( VSN): www.vsn.org

THE LATE-DISCOVERY ADOPTEE: People who discovered they were adopted as adults. http://www.ibar.com/voices/mainpgs/main9.html

©2003. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
www.bastards.org

BASTARD NATION THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

BASTARD NATION THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Real adoptees speaking out about the secret and sealed adoption system. Bastards Unite! You have nothing to lose but your anonymity! Go to the BN Thought of the Day archive. Hit the pic!

Bastard Nation Action Alerts

bastard photos

Bastardly Books by Bastards and Friends

-

  Photobucket

Click Here To Enter

-

 

Recent Comments

  • maddogmarley: Isn't your arm getting tired flogging your dead horse? Righ...
  • Mary Cannon: Your discussion on 'rights rhetoric' is outdated, going no w...
  • Marie Riley: you go girl!!...
JOIN

Join Bastard Nation to be part of the effort to establish respect, dignity, and equal rights for adoptees.

-

The Bastard Quarterly!

Sign up for our quarterly newsletter. We will not share your information with anyone. We follow a strict privacy policy.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

Help us prevent spam:
9+6=? 

-

Bastard Nation’s Sample Resolution Against Vetoes and Other Restrictions

Bastard Nation’s Sample Resolution Against Vetoes and Other Restrictions

Any political organization seeking to enact true open records legislation should be very clear with both their constituents and the legislators they work with about what the essential provisions of the proposed bill are. Any modification or deletion of the essential provisions of a bill should be immediate cause to have the bill killed.

Any political organization seeking the assistance of Bastard Nation to pass open records legislation must hold unconditional access by adult adoptees to the original record of their birth as an essential provision that cannot be modified or deleted. Read our Mission Statement.

Bastard Nation will not assist any political organization to pass open records legislation unless their governing board or other leadership

... passes a written resolution such as the following that commits the board to a strategy of no compromise on key provisions
... informs its constituents of this commitment and this strategy
... informs the sponsoring legislators of this commitment and this strategy.

WHEREAS we recognize that disclosure and contact vetoes, redactions, mandatory intermediaries and registry provisions are an affront to the dignity of adopted persons everywhere and a violation of their right to due process and equal treatment under the law,

WHEREAS there has been a demonstrable negative effect on the ability to pass unconditional open records in states that have passed veto legislation and/or any provisions that are less than unconditional access on demand by the adult adoptee,

WHEREAS our primary goal is to restore the right of adult adoptees everywhere to be treated as full citizens under the law,

WE HEREBY DECLARE that under no circumstances will we accept the addition of veto, redaction, intermediary, or registry provisions, or any conditional provisions to our legislation that would be less than unconditional access for adult adoptees to the original record of their birth. All legislative sponsors and members of this organization will be informed of our policy on this matter to ensure that the bill is pulled promptly in the event of such revisions.