Adoption practices in the United States have been designed to protect each member of the adoption triad. Traditionally they preserve the anonymity and privacy of the birth parents. These practices have supported the concept that adoptive parents need to establish a relationship with their new child without concern of unwanted interference by members of the child's birth family. In addition, they emphasize protecting adopted children from potentially disturbing facts about their birth families and/or psychological confusion that might arise from any continued relationship with their birth families.
To protect confidentiality in adoption, all records of the adoption proceedings are sealed. The child's original birth certificate is sealed, and a new one is issued that typically contains only the child's adoptive name and substitutes the names of the adoptive parents for the birth parents. The original birth certificate and adoption records can be opened only by a court order and only for "just cause." Recently, however, three states have developed open adoption records, and more than 30 other states have developed mutual consent registries.1 The exact statutes regarding mutual consent registries vary from state to state, but the basic concept allows adult adoptees and birth parents to register their desire to meet each other. If a mutual consent is achieved, identifying information can be released and a meeting may be facilitated. Some states require both parties to register independently. Other states allow a state agency to locate the birth parent(s) to determine whether consent will be granted to release information to the adult adoptee.1
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics