Support of Open Adoption Records
edited: Thursday, March 03, 2005
By Lawrence P Adams
Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Become a Fan
Why I searched for my birth parents and why I support "open adoption records" for adult adoptees.
Having had to spend eight years searching for my birth parents leads me to very firmly support open adoption records to all when they reach the age of majority.
My reasons are stated below:
Why search? Why not leave the past alone? What do you
hope to gain from your search? These are just a few
of the questions often asked of those with the desire to search.
Most questions come from people who were raised by
their birth parents. They know their heritage. They
have extended family to share their lives. They know of
potential medical problems that might arise in their
They have little or no understanding or appreciation for those of
us who have gone through life, without any of the
above or the void it left within us. They do not know
what it would be like not to have any of the above.
My search went far beyond even my wildest dreams.
The question still is; WHY? Why did I go beyond the
original intent of getting simple medical information?
Why did I want to find my birth Mother? Why did I ever
want to meet her? Why did I want to know my roots? Why
take twenty years spending great amounts of time,
energy and money researching my family history? Why
look for living members of an extended family?
Every child, at some point, questions who they are,
where they came from and so forth. Most are able to
have the answers easily provided by a parent or other
member of their family. Adoptees or many children of
the foster care system, such as I, do not have that
available to them. For adoptees in particular, of my
generation, it is denied them by law. We are expected
to go through life never knowing the answers to those
questions. Many are even ridiculed for entertaining
I searched for the answers to all those questions
because I am like any other normal individual. More
importantly, I have the right to know! I searched first
for information; then to fill a void in my life. I
would like to think if the search had ended with just
information, I would have been satisfied. Of course,
knowing all I do today, it might not have been. Each
person searching needs to know when enough is enough
My search had its ups and downs. My initial search to
just find the information needed to locate my birth
Mother to get medical information, took four years. It
would take another four years before I would find and
meet my birth Father. They have both since passed
away. During that time, I learned how to be a
detective; to ask questions, that to most would have
appeared stupid. I learned every necessary trick to play others game of getting information. I even had to learn to lie to just get the information I wanted.
Attempting to find my birth Mother only aroused more
questions within me. It was during the search,
receiving my Grandfather's death certificate, that I
learned I was Polish. My Mother's maiden name should
have been Piechowiak. It became Adams only because of
my grandfather, being ashamed of his heritage,
changing his name. I now know I had a heritage. I
wanted to find out more. I decided I would do a
genealogical search, whether I had ever found my birth
Mother or not. Each step of my search answered some
questions, but also raised many new ones.
I found my birth Mother, my birth Father as well as
siblings. None were very cooperative in answering my
questions about family health, heritage or genealogy.
If they had been, it might have saved me sixteen more
years of research.
I have found most of the answers to my questions. The
void that was in my life has been filled. I now feel I
am a whole person; I know who I am and where I came
from. I am now in the position that children raised by
their birth parents are in. I no longer have to feel
different or abnormal. I found far more information
about my family genealogy than I ever expected to. I
found and met members of my extended family. I can now
see in pictures family resemblance's and say...see I
belong! In learning about my great grandparents,
aunts, uncles and Polish people as a whole, I learned,
in so many ways, why I am the person I am today.
This is why I and so many others search. The desire to be made whole. The desire to know, that even when your birth parents may reject you...you still are a part of a family and
a heritage. I had a good life prior to beginning my
search and have done well during the search. The end
result of my search just has made it better.
I know adoptees who have been searching for years,
without success, to find the very basic of
information; a birth parent name. This is due to he
laws concerning adoption still on the books in many
Since the 1970s, some states have opened up their
adoption laws, opening Adoption Registries. Many
adoption agencies now enter into open adoption
agreements. However, in many cases, the adoptee is at
a distinct disadvantage if they choose to search for
their birth parents or any information that might
identify who they are.
Though things have improved in the past twenty or so
years, much more needs to be done. Most state Adoption
Registries require both the birth parent and the
adoptee to grant permission for identifying
information to be shared with the other party. If
consent is not given or if nothing is on file
indicating either way, any requests for information
will be denied.
Current laws, even with updates, still play havoc for
those adoptees from the 1930s, 1940s and even 1950s.
In many cases, the birth parents or adoptee, do not
know the new laws regarding Adoption Registries. Also,
the birth parents or now adult adoptees have passed
away. Even in death, information cannot be given.
In most cases, the law that supposedly was "in the
best interest of the child" has become, "best interest
of the birth parent, dead or alive."
I firmly believe ALL have the right to know who they
are, where they came from, family heritage and
genealogy, no matter the circumstances under which
they came into this world.
To those who are not adoptees, I ask you; "Knowing all
that you know today about yourself, family, family
history...how would you have liked to have all that
information kept from you? Would it leave a void in
your life? These are the conditions under which
adoptees are expected to live. In truth, you know you
would not like to live this way; why would you expect
an adoptee to be any different from you?
I have known adoptees, even when the release of
medical information about family could have saved
their lives, were refused their request for
information. This is wrong and has absolutely no
Why, when millions around the world who were raised by
their birth parents do genealogical research to learn
more of themselves and their heritage is it considered
normal? When an adoptee or person in my situation does
the same its considered abnormal?
Seems hypocritical to me!
To birth parents, I have a message. We understand, in
most cases, your decision to give up your child was
made only after a great struggle within yourself. We
know what a painstaking decision it was that you made.
We know you made that decision because of the love you
had for your child, and that you wanted what was best
for him or her. I ask that you continue to act in the
best interest of your child, who is now an adult and
no matter how good a good a home they went to, or how
well they have done in life, may still feel
incomplete. PLEASE, file information with your
respective state Adoption Agency from which your child
was adopted. Give your consent to have it released to
your child when they reach adulthood. Let them fill
the void within their lives. Without your consent this
information will never be made known to them.
Adult adoptees, your birth parents also may be in the
same position as you are. They may want to see how
your life has turned out. To know they did indeed make
the best decision for you that they could. You could
do your part as well, provide updated information to
the same agency mentioned above and give consent to
have it released to a birth parent or sibling if
requested. This is a two-way street, not a one-way.
Adult adoptees, who search for answers, do not mean
you any harm. They do not want to disrupt the lives
you have since built for yourselves. They just want
and need answers to questions to which only you can
unlock the door. Even if you do not wish for any type
of relationship with your child, provide the
information that would allow them to be whole.
My search was satisfied when I was able to sit with my
birth Mother and find out the true story of my birth;
the gut-wrenching decision she made to give me up, and
why; my true Polish heritage and the vague medical
history that would allow me to better care for myself.
I would have been satisfied if she had just provided
me these facts in a letter and not agreed to meet me.
I would have had the basic information I desired.
The fact she agreed to meet me, despite how our
relationship turned out, was above and beyond what I
had hoped for or expected during my search.
Of course, because I found out I was Polish and
because my grandfather was ashamed of this heritage, I
continued my research to find out as much as I
possibly could about my family. I wanted to know why
and when my ancestors came to America, what they did
with their lives...I wanted to be proud of them. I
have achieved that goal.
My only real regret is that I waited so long before I
began to search. If I had begun at age eighteen or
twenty-one, I might have been able to meet many aunts
and uncles who were still living at the time. By the
time I did begin my search and found all eleven
children of my great grandparents, they were deceased.
What a missed opportunity on my part.
I have been privileged to get to know some of my
extended family and they have added so much to the
picture. Through them, pictures and stories have been
shared with me. You can only imagine the intense
feelings I had when I saw the pictures of my birth
parents, great grandparents or other family members
for the first time; the feelings when I walked through
the homestead my great grandfather built with his own
hands 112 years ago; the feelings when sitting with an
89 year old first cousin and hearing stories of my
great grandparents, her mother, aunts and uncles or
the feelings when being able, at the age of 52, to
spend my FIRST CHRISTMAS with family I could call my
Twenty years ago, I knew nothing of my birth mother,
my heritage or my family history. Today, I know more
than I had ever expected to be able to know. Even
though I feel I have had a successful life to this
point, it is only today that I can declare...I am
whole! I finally have a sense of belonging, of knowing
who I am. I am finally proud of who I am, where I came
from and of those within my family who came before me.
I am proud to be able to proclaim my heritage is
This is why I searched. This is why anyone would
search. To any adoption agency employee, state
Adoption Registry employee, state legislator or more importantly, birth parent who may read this ...allow adult
adoptees to have the thrill I have had. Allow them
access to the information they may need or want to
fill in the blanks in their lives. Allow them to
become whole! This is vitally important for adoptees
of earlier generations. They need the information
while it might still be possible for them to meet the
birth parents whom for whatever reason, had to give
them up. If the birth parent or adoptee is already
deceased, then the adoption records should be opened
It is OUR information locked behind vault doors and we
have a right to it!
© 2003 Lawrence P. Adams
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED