I’m a computer professional by trade, so I’m very familiar with technology. And a recent column by Network World’s Mark Gibbs illustrates why today’s technology makes sealing adoption records pointless.
Gibbs explains how, with a bit of cash, you can find out just about anything about anyone. As an example he uses debt collectors, who have access to databases that describe everything from your Social Security number to your medical records to your most recent neighbors. As more companies cross-reference data, he says, it will become harder and harder to control where that data goes:
Every IT person with experience knows that it [availability of personal data] is not a question of the cat getting out of the bag; the cat and the bag will never even be in the same room.
He further quotes one of his readers:
‘There is no way off the grid… unless you just want to be a hermit and live in a hole somewhere. Computers were released to the world, the Internet tied them together, [now] Pandora’s box is wide open and the data has already hit the rotary oscillator.’
We adoptees are constantly accused of channeling Pandora by daring to ask questions about our origins. Advocates of closed adoption records, primarily adoption professionals and adoptive parents, claim records must be sealed because “birth mothers were promised privacy.”
But that’s not true. Birth mothers were told if they searched they would get drawn and quartered. The ones who were promised privacy were the adoptive parents, who were less likely to adopt if they thought birth parents would come banging down the door (one of many adoption stereotypes).
Birth parents cannot have been promised “privacy” because there is not one of us who lives in a vacuum. To use this as the main argument against the restoration of adult adoptee access to original birth certificates–a right that was revoked to cover the more clandestine aspects of the adoption trade–is ludicrous. Sealing birth records does not prevent adoptees and birth families from finding one another. All it does is create unnecessary and emotionally-draining loopholes for those of us who have no other method to obtain the same information others take for granted.
Privacy has never existed; the Internet just makes it more obvious. This is another reason why the sealed adoption records system should be abolished.