Redacted Adoption Records In Illinois, Part II

Okay, this is really funny, in a gallows humor kind of way. Apparently some wag at the University of Illinois redacted the name of a famous local ballplayer in an overzealous attempt to redact information presented to the Chicago Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act. From the Tribune article:

It looks like the University of Illinois dropped the ball — and violated the spirit of the law — when redacting public documents connected to its shadow admission process for well-connected students.

The e-mail is dated March 2, 2005, the day Santo failed in another bid to enter Cooperstown. U. of I. spokesman Tom Hardy said the employee handling the redactions didn’t know who Santo was and assumed he was a rejected student.

“I know it may surprise the Tribune and die-hard Cubs fans, but Ron Santo is apparently not a household name,” Hardy said.

This is a wonderful example of how arbitrary and capricious the redaction process can be. Mistakes like this happen ALL THE TIME when adoptees and birth relatives try to access records. Except we typically don’t have the clout (heh!) that an organization like the Tribune has to fight it.

We don’t need uninformed office workers redacting stuff willy-nilly from adoption records, because when mistakes are made, there are often no second chances. We need transparency in access, a clear-cut mechanism that treats everyone equally whether adoption is involved or not. And guess what? We already have one: the same process everyone else uses to access birth certificates. Illinois should eliminate conditional access in favor of legislation like Maine’s, which restores adult adoptee rights to unmodified, unredacted original birth certificates. Anything less is a strikeout against our civil rights.


  1. When are we as a country going to move into the 21st century? Why as a counry are we so secretive? What are we hiding? Why do we make up addendums to laws such as the “Freedom Of Information Act”?

    There should be no grey area in this. It is black & white. We all have the same rights do we not? Well, I guess we don’t as someone added an adendum to adoptees.

    I think what has begun to gnaw at the back of my neck about this like an imbedded tick sucking my blood is how the powers that be get away with it and how as a strong group of adoptees we allow it.

    We are strong in numbers, the millions, and yet we don’t always stand together as a group to not be wreckoned with.

    One day!


  2. Amen!

  3. Chynna, someone recently reminded me that people who are satisfied with their experience don’t make waves. For the most part, adoptees seem to be content with their experiences and may not even know the extent to which they are disenfranchised by law. Perhaps if they did, adoptees as a group would be more vocal. There is also the matter of the continual shame we suffer as adoptees. We are so used to bowing our heads and turning away that it takes a great deal of effort to get over that. I know plenty of people who have been treated abysmally by the states holding their records, yet they don’t do anything because they have been made to feel they have no right to, or have even been threatened with legal action. Even if such a threat holds no water, the mention of it can be enough to send us back into our shells. Which is why it’s vital for all of us to stand up against that and insist upon our civil rights.

  4. Hey Miss Triona:
    Don’t get me wrong. You and I have discussed in blog before the shame that comes alongside of relinquishment. I myself am by no means exempt from that shame. Hell, I built the closet!

    Heck, at a party last week that I went as my sisters date, her husband was away fishing w/the boys, once again she felt the need to tell one person after the other that I was adopted as soon as the chance reared it’s jagged head. And….she said it each time in that leaned in body language stance and that whisper voice. Come on, we all know the stance and that voice! So I know the shame of it all believe me.

    I guess I just think this withholding of information for ADULT adoptees, whom no longer need protecting or someone to make our decisions for us, is a bunch of crap. I further see now that we OURSELVES are allowing it.

    The shame keeps us quiet, in the closet, like it is all okay when it isn’t. As if saying nothing and acting like it doesn’t bother you makes you just like the REAL adult next to you. Well, you don’t feel okay and it doesn’t make you any less an adoptee with no rights.

    So we need to draw from the shame and use it to come together as a group that just won’t stand for this treatment and second class citizen standing any longer. I get the shame, I feel it myself, but I finally learned to use it to take a stand.

    If we in the millions banded together we would have to be heard and rights would have to be recognized. Really when you look at it it is like we are enslaved to adoption stigma. From a psychological stand there are many similairities to the impact on the person. Scary right?

    I guess what I am trying to say is..IT JUST REALLY SUCKS!…so lets use that strong feeling of anger and shame to make a difference and shred those enslaving feelings to bits! Let’s take a stand and say we have the right to this information.

    Whew…my novel is done! Thanks for listening.


  5. Chynna–I totally agree with everything you have said, and I know you know the inside of that shame closet intimately! Mostly I said what I did for the benefit of others who may not have experienced what we have. I hope people will go back and read my blog about your horrible experience with the Florida DMV and how you were basically treated like pond scum just for being adopted. That is the sort of thing adoptees experience every single day, yet we are expected to shrug it off and “move on”. I for one refuse to do so.

    Enslaved to adoption stigma… oh, that is SO true! I hope more adoptees will find the inner strength you have to stand up and speak out against it.

    P.S. Good to hear from you! I hadn’t heard from you in a while and was worried. I’m glad you’re still around and still kicking butt. 😉