Personal Bias Against Adoption Records Access

Individuals in positions of power are locking entire groups of people out of their adoption records.

In some states, counties, courts and adoption agencies, certain people are known to block access to records based solely on their own personal bias. It’s common knowledge among adoption searchers that some places are much harder to search than others for this reason. Invariably the bias is against open records, not for it. These powerful individuals believe adoption records should not just be closed, but sealed in carbonite for all time. They control all avenues leading to adoption records, including the post-adoption services that purportedly exist to “help” adoptees and birth families.

Let’s talk to some people who have run into this experience. LisaKay writes:

As a CPA, I must disagree strongly with the CI system and the sealed files system as well. There is NO OVERSIGHT. There is NO AUDIT. There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY. There is NO INDEPENDENT 3rd PARTY who can verify or contradict what that one person says.There is no way that ANYONE can have any degree of certainty that 1) what they are being told is accurate and complete, 2) the CI and Post Adoption Services Units ever even carry out their job duties, 3) what the “client” adoptee/bMother is telling CI and PAS is being documented and forwarded to the other party.

Nikki says:

I have had trouble getting into my records.I have been told by Lee county FL that even if I petition all I will get access to is non identifying information.So that is a dead end since I’ve had what little info they gave me since 1994.So in my case I will have to find another way.

To share my own experience, I was told the judge in the Ohio county where my records are sealed never approves petitions for access. Interestingly, my petition to open my records was deemed “granted, in part, as to non-identifying information” – information that should be available without the expense and hassle of the court petition process. I call that carbonite, not records access. I could also mention the fact that my adoptive father was also the attorney who finalized my adoption and therefore had full access to my records, as he was the one who provided them to the court. These powerful people change the rules of the Adoption Game at whim, while the rest of us scramble to keep up.

One wonders what connects these powerful individuals to adoption. Are they adoptive parents with a vested interest in blocking the attempts of their adopted “child” (adult) to learn his/her origins? Are they affiliated with adoption agencies who might see a drop in those lucrative post-adoption profits? Or perhaps some of them have sired one too many bastards to be comfortable with open records.

As another example, let’s note that the woman who was recently arrested for child abuse, and was a leader of the Illinois Council On Adoptable Children, was also on the Illinois Adoption Advisory Council which oversees, among other things, access to adoption records. Is this really the sort of person YOU want having control over your information?

I would suggest independent oversight – that we put adoptees and birth parents on these advisory councils – except that’s already being done and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Instead, we need to do away entirely with the ability of the adoption industry to operate in a clandestine manner. Restore adult adoptee access to original birth certificates. Grant birth relatives the ability to view documents that pertain to them. Dedicate funds toward helping women in need raise their children. Make adoption rare, and about finding homes for children who need them instead of children for parents who want them.

People in positions of power may still abuse that power, but they should know the world is watching.


  1. Here is a quote that a lone adoptee can take to heart: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
    —Edward Everett Hale

    I have that quote on the cover of my upcoming book next month called Adoption Records Handbook. It’s getting some rave reviews and should really help adoptees and other birth families members find each other. That is always my goal. If you or your readers are interested in help, go to and check it out. I really think it’s going to make a difference to a lot of searchers.


  2. There seems to be so much corruption among the post-adoption in charge people. It has to be stopped and there is no better way than to have open records states across the U.S. I do feel that we need to continue to educate people with blogging, websites,as well as contacting legislators and news media.

  3. Teri – You are so right. If we each do what we ourselves can do, we will make a difference.

    Mary Lynn – I agree, we need total transparency in the adoption process. There is too much that goes on behind closed doors, to the detriment of those who are denied access to their records.

  4. Here’s a situation I know of. I have no idea how or if it was resolved. A man was trying to get his OBC. His mother was murdered a couple weeks after he was born. I won’t go into detail, but a state agency was probably involved in her death, directly or indirectly,and the case was never solved. He had all the records from her death, the police investigation, everything, but he could not get his OBC. It appeared that her petition never got past the judge’s secretary, who was an adopater, and told her outright that she didn’t approve of the man getting his obc. The response he got from the judge was, in fact, probably forged. Even a rejection of a petition must have the raised seal on it, which his denial did not. As I said this was a long time ago. I know that the man was looking into going around the secretary, but I never heard what happened.

  5. Personal bias against adoption? AMEN TO THAT.

    I tried to get records of the Advisory Council meetings for baby dumps , bumped into many brick walls, and finally received a copy of one “report.” The report contained contained statistics but nothing else that would indicate any meaningful or productive meetings had actually taken place.

    Adoptees did try to get on that advisory council but it was already hand-picked by those in the know.

    Oversight – that’s a laugh in Illinois!! According to HB 4623, The Illinois Adoption Registry Advisory Council will have as a member – MIDWEST ADOPTION AGENCY. The fox is in the chicken coop, folks.

    Also in HB 4623, section 3 of 18.07 has been ELIMINATED. This section required the council to submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2001 on the status of the Registry, an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Registry, and pertinent statistics regarding the Registry.

    Transparency is a dirty word in Illinois.


  6. Isn’t the problem with the ACLU, that they fight for people’s privacy rights in addition to fighting to end discrimination towards people? They have obvioulsy been serioulsy conned about “Birth Mother Privacy” and since that lie was cememted by Corporate America and the US government, I guess that is what they feel obligated to believe. It doesn’t help either that stupid churches like LDS and the Catholic ones instead of being moral and admitting BMP is a lie, they continue to push this lie. Unfortuantly it is going to be on the Real Mother’s shoulders to figure out how to prove to the ACLU that BMP IS a lie, and turn the situation rightfully around and show how this lie IS discrimination to them and to us. Boy, wouldn’t I love to see that-the ACLU on the Adoption Industrys ass calling them finally the haters they are.

  7. The ACLU thing is interesting. It varies state-to-state as you may know. Their concern about protecting mothers’ medical records is valid, but the birth certificate is not a medical record and should be accessible to ALL parties to it, including the mother. This is the official position of Origins-USA, the voice for mothers who have lost chidlren to adoption; and advocating for mothers’ rights and keeping fmailies together.

    IMHO adoptee groups messed things up by asking for “open records” which is far too vague and COULD include medical and other records from adoption agencies that might often contain character assassinating judgments and other private information that should be a mother’s CHOICE whether she reveal or not.

    If we clearly stick to “EQUAL ACCESS” to birth certificates – we would have a much better footing with ACLU and everywhere else…and we could get far more bi-lateral support with adoption reform stating that the original birth certificate is property of all parties it pertains to and are named therein.

    But…I’ve been preaching this to deaf ears for decades! Maybe eventually BN and other orgs will get on board – who knows.

    The real issue with ACLU – while they have a valid smoke screen to block equal access – is that they, like the general public, legislators etc…all too identify most and have the most compassion for adoptive parents – over adoptees and parents who lose their kids to adoption. This is because everyone knows someone who is just “so desperate” to adopt or who has adopted. Everyone has an adopted niece or cousin… yadayadyada.

    The records were sealed initially to protect them and stay so to protect the paid client ad keep the baby broker sin cash!

    That’s what its all about! (And you thought it was the hokie pokie!_) 🙂

    Teri – let ,me know if you are interested in having me review your book.

    Mirah Riben, Vice president Communications,

  8. I think that, in the interest of Homeland Security, we should require that paternity be determined at birth and do a complete end run around state secret-keepers!