Adoptive Parents Favor Opening Adoption Records

By Lang, Susan S. | Human Ecology Forum, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

Adoptive Parents Favor Opening Adoption Records


Lang, Susan S., Human Ecology Forum


Parents of adopted children in New York are overwhelmingly in favor of laws that allow adult adoptees access to information in their birth certificates about their birth parents, according to a new Cornell study.

"One major argument for keeping records sealed is to protect adoptive parents who might feel threatened if their adopted children knew more about their birth parents," says Rosemary Avery, associate professor of consumer economics and housing and a specialist in family policy and foster care.

"Yet, these results indicate there is no justification for keeping such information from adult adoptees, especially nonidentifying information," Avery says. "And there is no reason to believe that New York State adoptive parents are any different from those in other states: they are overwhelmingly supportive of opening sealed adoption records."

As more adult adoptees pressured state legislatures to open sealed adoption records on the grounds that they are unconstitutional and important for healthy psychological development, Avery set out to determine how adoptive parents felt about the potential legislative changes and how common open adoptions were in the sample.

She surveyed 1,274 adoptive parents in 743 adoptive homes in New York. The study, which is the first intensive study on this issue in New York, based its findings on a diverse sample of parents who lived in rural and urban areas, adopted through public and private agencies, and adopted children of various ages.

Among her findings:

* Adoptive mothers were more in favor of opening adoption records than fathers: 83 percent of adoptive mothers and 73 percent of adoptive fathers felt that adult adoptees should be able to obtain a copy of their birth certificates; only 9 percent of adoptive mothers and 11 percent of adoptive fathers felt they should not have access.

* 78 percent of adoptive mothers and 66 percent of adoptive fathers felt that all adult adoptees should have the right to obtain an original birth certificate, regardless of when they were adopted. …

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