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: 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

bytes: why it’s an issue


Adult adoptees in most of the advanced, industrialized nations of the world have unrestricted access to their original birth records as a matter of right. In contrast, adult adoptees in all but seven states in the U.S. are forbidden access to their own original birth certificates. Archaic, Depression-Era laws created “amended” birth certificates, which replace the names of the adoptee’s biological parents with those of the adoptive parents, and frequently falsify other birth information as well. The original records are permanently sealed in most states by laws largely passed after World War II, a legacy of the culture of shame which stigmatized infertility, out-of-wedlock birth, and adoption.

In Scotland, adoptee records have been open since 1930, and in England since 1975. Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela are only a few of the many nations which do not prevent adult adoptees from accessing their own birth records.

Why are they still sealed in most of the U.S.?

Well-funded lobbies representing certain adoption agencies and lawyers , religious, and civil liberties groups have a vested interest in keeping adoptee records closed.  These special interest groups would continue to deprive adult adoptees of their rights, presumably to prevent the disclosure of controversial past practices (baby-selling, coercion, fraud  ), which are now hidden by state-sanctioned secrecy, as well as create special parental privacy privileges or right  that no other parent enjoys.

While many adoptees search for their biological relatives to discover the answers to questions regarding medical history and family heritage, all adoptees should be able to exercise their right to obtain the original government documents of their births and adoptions whether they choose to search or not. At stake are the civil and human rights of millions of American citizens. To continue to abrogate these rights is to perpetuate the stigmatization of illegitimacy and adoption, and the relegation of an entire class of citizens to second-class status.

For everyone else, it’s “Vital Statistics” — for adoptees, it’s “None of your business.”

All Americans, adopted or not, have a right to access government records about their own lives.

©2012. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

bytes: good for adoptive families


Is Open Records the same as Open Adoption?

NO! Open records are NOT the same as open adoption. Open records refers to an adult adoptee having equal access to legal documents which pertain to him or her, including original birth certificate and adoption decree. Open adoption refers to an arrangement for raising an adopted child.

Will Open Records threaten my relationship with my adoptive child?

NO! Adult adoptees having access to their records does not threaten parent-child relationships. With open records, nothing is changed while the adoptee is a child under the care of her adoptive parents Whether the relationship becomes better or worse when the adoptee is an adult depends a lot more on how parents raise their children as members of an adoptive family rather than on whether the adult adoptee has access to birth records.

Will Open Records cause a birth parent to try to reclaim my child.

NO! Open records are only meant for adult adoptees who have reached the age of majority.

Don’t only ungrateful, maladjusted adoptees need to search?

NO! Many high achieving, well-adjusted adoptees have a desire to search at some time in their lives. Having respect for this natural desire will only bring you and your child closer together. On the other hand, if your child does not desire to search, you should not push the issue. The issue is respect. It should be the choice of the adult adoptee.

Isn’t Open Records a dangerous, radical experiment?

NO! Actually, sealed records are the experiment. Adoption records were only sealed in this country after World War II in most states. Adoptee records were sealed based on a then-fashionable, highly ideological conception of adoption as starting with a clean slate that is widely acknowledged to be bankrupt if not pernicious today. The records were sealed to protect the child of adoption from the prevailing stigma of illegitimacy.

Will Open Records cause fewer adoptions?

NO! Studies indicate that the rate of adoption is not adversely affected when adoption records are opened to adults. This is another baseless scare tactic. In Great Britain and elsewhere more adoptions took place after records were opened than would have before. There is no indication that records access in the US has lowered the rate of adoption.

©2012. Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization

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