Adoption Records And Privacy In The Internet Age

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this as the main argument against the restoration of adult adoptee access to original birth certificates–a right that was revoked to cover the more clandestine aspects of the adoption trade–is ludicrous.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.


  1. Hermits are probably the only ones who have privacy now. But years ago I don’t think that even a birth mother who lived as a hermit would have had privacy. No matter how hard someone tries to keep a pregnancy a secret it is next to impossible. Even when an unwed mother goes east to take a summer class, the real reason for her absence becomes known by someone.

    To keep records sealed to protect the privacy of birth mothers is nothing but an excuse.

    If an adult adoptee is strong determined, they often will find their birth mother. Sealed records can result in a search taking longer to complete. Some searches might not be possible to complete as a result of records being falsified.

    We have to show legislators there are reasons to open records.

  2. Secrets and lies kill. They maim. They haunt your every waking moment, threatening to emerge from the shadows. There can be no joy with the fear of exposure lurking in the back of the mind.

    I do not understand how these people, the closed adoption records supporters and the legislotors who continue irrational statutes, can be so deep into denial not to see that what they are advocating is destructive to every party involved.

    The “good” birth mother must live with unacknowledged grief and the shame that accompanies the secrecy of adoption. She is not allowed to be curious or concerned about the fate of her child.

    The “good” adoptee must live with the idea that their origins are so undesirable that the truth is taboo. The “good” adoptee is forced to ignore obvious differences and only see the similarities between herself and her adoptive parents. Curios about your origins? You ungrateful little bastard!

    The “good” adoptive parent must pretend that their child never existed until the moment he or she was placed in their arms. [Ta-Daa! It’s a miracle!] Unless of course, the adopted child does something wrong. Then the child’s prior existence is acknowledged and given full credit for the adoptee’s lack of moral character.

    Wake up world. We aren’t playing by those ridiculous rules any more.

    It has been said many times in my lifetime with regard to politics –
    It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.

    Time to come clean, folks.

    The system and the laws purport to be designed “in the best interest of the child.” When you base policy on a foundation that you know is a lie, you end up with a disastrous set of rules and laws. And you are guilty of all of the colleral damage you have wrought, dear legislator.

    Lisa Kay
    Florida Adoptee [black-gray market]
    Born Jan. 1963 – Gainesville, Florida
    ISO Truths, bFamily, Info

  3. I know my pregnancy was a secret. People were incredulous when I found my son.

    I never wanted anonymity. As I always say it was the punishment imposed not the promise made.

    Yet the privacy commissioner in my jurisdiction bought the whole protect the birth mother argument and so there is a veto.

    When you go on the government website – that’s the first thing you see, How to set up the veto – not here’s how to find each other.