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April 28, 07

NEWS / Adoptees should have unfettered access to birth certificates


North Carolina has an opportunity to restore civil rights and dignity to adult adoptees to freely request and receive a copy of their government-held original birth certificate. The egregious laws of closed records effectuate a subclass of citizens who are not afforded the rights of every other citizen. That is a 14th Amendment civil rights violation unencumbered by slippery-slope social issues.

Access by adult adoptees to their Original Birth Certificate is a civil rights issue referencing their document under the purview of the state government and courts. Two very different agendas become commingled: the agenda of civil rights with the agenda of adoption reform from a social services perspective. The real issue, which grants to adult adoptees the same right to their birth record that is the right of all other citizens, becomes obfuscated with a subtext of search and reunion issues and birth mothersí privacy.

Precedence had been set on the specious argument by NCFA about birth mothersí privacy. In a Tennessee case where plaintiffs asserted that access to Original Birth Certificates by adult adoptees violated birth mothersí right to privacy, the court sided with the defendants, who argued that the right to privacy did not extend to the nondisclosure of personal information.

In general, 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. Importantly, the release of the original birth certificate is not a release to the public, rather a release to a private individual.

The purported privacy promise made to birth mothers has not been evidenced in adoption documents. The burden remains on those asserting a promise of privacy or confidentiality to substantiate:

1. That adoption records contain promises of birth mothersí privacy.

2. That the privacy promises in the records have legal standing. The claimants have not met this burden.

An appurtenant contact preference proposal gives a birth mother a voice in her desire for no contact. A birth mother may sign a contact preference form declining contact and add the required family medical history. Existing laws protect individuals from unwarranted intrusion.

North Carolina legislators are obligated to consider the cogent, rational arguments, and to expunge emotive, non-relevant pleadings. As a birth mother, I support without reservation adopteesí unfettered access to their original birth certificates.

CAROL G. HERMAN
Springfield, Va.

Tags: birth certificates, us law, birth certificate, birth certificat, birth record, document,
 




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