There have been lots of poignant and pointed comments in the adoption community lately about confidential intermediaries. It’s great to see so many people throwing off the shackles of silence and letting the world see a broader picture of adoption experience.
I thought the Illinois legislators should know what the public has to say, so I sent them the following letter with excerpts from many recent blog entries and comments. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed their experiences, here and elsewhere.
Today is the last day of the Illinois legislative session. HB 4623 may die in the House, or it may be delayed, or a new disaster of a draft may be dumped on us at the last minute. We don’t know, it’s all part of the Adoption Game – a game we never signed up to play.
It’s not too late to make your voice heard. Click here for contact info for Illinois representatives. You can also find email addresses on the Illinois Open web site (although some of them seem to be bouncing).
To: Illinois Representatives
From: Triona Guidry
Re: Illinois HB 4623 And Adoption Records Access
As the legislative session concludes, your constituents urge you to vote against Illinois HB 4623, and to create a new bill that will restore the civil right, rescinded in 1945, of all Illinois adopted adults to access their original birth certificates without restraint or third party interference.
HB 4623 is a slap in the face to adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth families alike. These are the remarks of people who have experienced Confidential Intermediary (CI) programs for themselves. As you can see, such solutions DO NOT WORK. The only way to treat all people equally is to restore adoption records access to the participants, including adult adoptees.
From Triona Guidry, “Case Closed! Another Adoptee Becomes A Confidential Intermediary Statistic”
Ready for the scorecard? The Illinois CI program:
- Initially refused all applications from Illinois-born, out-of-state adoptees. Their web site states you don’t need a lawyer – but if I hadn’t had one my application would still be sitting in the reject pile.
Are other applications being rejected? Intermediary programs are not available to all adoptees.
- Deliberately discourages participants and contacted relatives from signing up with the state registry.
Why? Is it to ensure a steady supply of paying clients? The state registry is free (if you complete the medical section); the CI program costs hundreds of dollars.
- Redacts information not specifically stated in the 18.4 statute as being “identifying,” in my case information my mother obviously desired to tell me since she included it in her letters.
Are adoptees being denied even the minimal non-identifying information permitted by law?
- Can’t decide whether participants are permitted program information or not. I received a redacted copy of the first letter sent to my mother when I requested it, but requests for similar subsequent materials was denied.
Are programs using “confidentiality” as a cloak to hide their own shortcomings?
- Refuses to disclose the search steps taken on participants’ behalf.
How are participants to know if they have received the services they paid for, if they are not allowed to know what was done?
- Refuses to disclose their standard written policies and procedures.
What do these programs have to hide, that their very policies are secret?
- Accidentally disclosed my identifying information without my consent.
Why are adoptees expected to trust programs that consider their own policies more “confidential” than participants’ private data?
- Continues to fail to provide official written notification of said disclosure.
Why do proponents of intermediaries deny that mistakes occur? Is it because the primary focus is profit rather than helping adoptees and their families?
- Charges to re-open cases, with no way for participants to know what has or has not been done on their behalf.
Why are adoptees expected not only to pay extra fees, but to pay them multiple times, for the same information that non-adopted people may easily obtain?
Reader comments from “Case Closed! Another Adoptee Becomes A Confidential Intermediary Statistic”
Deanna: “I am a birthmother and I have to say that I don’t feel that I have a right to keep information regarding my family from the children I placed for adoption… I know that some birthparents will never want contact. I think they should have that right to say no… however not at the expense of the adoptee.”
BL: “I am shocked and appalled at the experience that you have had with the CI program in Illinois. I had NO idea that the CI interferes with the written correspondence that you have, once contact is agreed upon. I cannot comprehend that. If the parties did not want that information identifying) to be communicated, then it wouldn’t be put in the correspondence. The fact that the state feels they need to interfere,is incomprehensible to me. But, looking at it from a money making perspective, I get it. If they delete ANY identifying information from the letters, then you are completely dependent upon them to continue your search.”
Lisa Kay: “Most of us were already sadly aware that the internet is teeming with persons anxious to relieve us of our money with the promise of finding our original family. Call me naive, idealistic, whatever, but since I have discovered the complicity of state and local government employees (elected and not), I am beyond pi$$ed off. (It makes a professional skeptic such as me wonder if your CI did anything at all beyond typing letters to you.)”
From Anita Walker Field, “The Cheese Stands Alone,”
“I signed up with the [Illinois] CI program in 1994, about two years after its inception… When I was signing on, I was told… the beauty of the CI program was that CIs had the full power of the courts behind them. CIs could go where others couldn’t. The CIs could present a court order for information which otherwise would not be given out to adoptees. In other words, the CIs had super powers. I fell for it – hook, line and sinker… Be very certain of what treatment you can live with before you sign on with the CIs. Ask yourself if you can give up complete control of your search to a third party who is prevented by law from telling you any identifying information about yourself. Remember, your confidential intermediaries will arbitrarily tell you only those facts they want to. And they will arbitrarily withhold from you any facts that they want to.”
From Baby Love Child, “IL HB 4623 and IL’s Kafka-esque Confidential Intermediary Hell”
“More to the point, we were at an age when we were too young to protect our own interests. The State, as then supposedly ‘acting on our behalf’ abdicated its duty to some of its most vulnerable citizens, obliterating or at minimum confiscating our authentic history, and replacing it with what are in so many cases easily proven to be lies. Then they ‘get us on the back end’ by leaving us no recourse other than to be forced into chutes like their CI systems in vain attempts to regain the very documentation every other citizen takes for granted.”
As our examples demonstrate, “compromise” solutions like intermediaries are ineffective and inequitable. Please reject HB 4623 in favor of true open records legislation.