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Academy of Pediatrics Endorses National Adoption Center’s Open Records Policy

The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the National Adoption Center’s open records policy which calls unencumbered access of adopted adults to their original birth certificates an ”inalienable right.”  (Read policy here.)

The Center believes that copies of both the original and amended birth certificates be given to the adoptive family when the adoption is finalized unless specifically denied by the birthparents.  In any case, the Center advocates that when an adopted person becomes 18, he or she should be able to receive the original birth records, and be given access to medical and historical records.  These should be available to adopting families before the adoption is finalized.

Children who have been adopted often express the need to learn about their genetic background .  It is not, they say, because they are not happy or have a fraught home life.  Their desire to know comes often from curiosity about their origin and whether they have siblings.  “It’s a like vital part of us is missing,” says Alison, 22, who was adopted when she was three.  “I love my parents and I am not looking for ‘new’ parents.  I just want to see if I look like my birth mother or whether I have a sister or brother who also has a good singing voice.”  Alison is concerned, too, about any inherited medical condition and wonders about the general health of her birth parents.

Birth records are sealed in most states, but access to them is permitted in Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oregon.  Just last month, New Jersey, after a 34-year long effort by adoption advocates and birth parents, passe  a law that would open records.  It will not be effective, however, for three years, giving birth parents who want their names expunged from the records time to do so.