EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ADAM PERTMAN’S LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE ASHBURY PARK PRESS (NJ) ON OPEN RECORDS
The Asbury Park Press
3601 Highway 66
PO Box 1550
Neptune, NJ 07754
RE: Letter to the Editor
Deborah Jacobs’ commentary (“Registry best for reuniting” 4/21/05) offered persuasive-sounding arguments to support the ACLU’s contention that mutual consent registries are the best way to unite birth parents and adopted people. Alas, both research and experience demonstrate that every one of those arguments is based on inaccurate information, faulty stereotypes, and wishful thinking.
So few people know about mutual consent registries in other states that, according to all available data, they have been rendered virtually useless; furthermore, since some people move and all eventually die, tend to be of limited use (at best) unless they are very well publicized – which they never have been, anywhere.
Current law does indeed allow adopted people to request access to their records under certain circumstances, but they are generally so limited that even some who truly need information for serious medical reasons are routinely denied. Adoptees are not stalkers, children in search of new mommies and daddies, or horrible people who want to ruin the lives of the women and men who gave them life; they simply want to know the same things about themselves that everyone else takes for granted.
No legal document has ever been produced showing that any birth mother – anywhere – was assured of anonymity; some were certainly verbally promised they would receive it, but many others were promised exactly the opposite. The real point, though, is that research shows more than 90 percent do not mind their information being released, regardless of what they might or might not have been told.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the proof is in the putting: The dire predictions of supporters of continued secrecy simply haven’t come true in the growing number of states that have opened their records in recent years. The vast majority of birth mothers have said “yes,” there is no evidence that lives have been undone, and thousands upon thousands of adopted adults finally feel they are on a level playing field with their counterparts in biologically formed families.
As a professional in the field, that gives me hope for adoption itself. As an adoptive father, it gives me hope for my own children.