To the editor:
This letter is in response to your Jan. 20, 2006 article "Are you my Sperm Donor?" The story erroneously reported that adopted people have "gained the right to their original birth certificates." Not so, except in a handful of states; that battle is still being waged and will eventually be won. Knowing who you are and where you come from is a basic human need and right, whether you enter a family through adoption or through a modern reproductive technology.
Adoption still needs improvement, but it teaches valuable lessons to those who want to learn. Some in the fertility industry are doing that, but too many still don't realize that as profitable and cozy as they have become without monitoring or regulation, ethical standards and accountability inevitably yield better outcomes.
Fertility clinic personnel - who are not family therapists or child-welfare professionals - evidently are promoting anonymity irrespective of their clients' wishes and without understanding the long-term effects of this institutionalized deprivation of information. How did these clinicians obtain the right to decide two consenting adults should not be allowed to meet? Why do they not understand the potentially negative effects on the children they create?
Creating a climate of suspicion and secrecy did not serve the best interests of people in the world of adoption, and so it is changing. A cliché for the fertility industry: Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
525 Broadway, 6th Floor, NY 10012
617-332-8944 or 617-763-0134
Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D
Adoption counselor and author
19A Berkeley St., Cambridge, MA 02138