Updating The Institution Of Adoption

As a birth mother, psychotherapist and adoption reform advocate, I am acutely aware of how much myth and misinformation surrounds woman like me who relinquished their children for adoption. One of the most persistent myths is that were “promised” privacy, and that it would be wrong to break this promise by letting our now adult children find us.

The very sad fact is that most of us – young, pregnant and frightened – were never promised anything. We were told we had to give our babies away or live a life of shame, we were told we were unfit to be mothers, and we were told we would forget about our children. For almost all of us, these statements turned out to be lies.

Adoptees who are stymied by the lack of their original birth certificate (and their birth mother’s names) are now turning to consumer DNA testing and social media to search. DNA testing reveals the adoptee’s identity to all other biological relatives who also tested their DNA. Adoptees are inadvertently “outing” birth mothers to their cousins, siblings, nieces, aunts, etc. simply by submitting a saliva sample to Ancestry.com. How private is it when a birth mother gets a call from a distant relative asking her, “Did you have a baby in 1958? I’ve got an adoptee who showed up in my DNA test results who believes you are his birth mother.”

If privacy really matters, the better route is for an adoptee to get his original birth certificate and make personal, private and direct contact with his birth mother. Any birth mother I know would prefer this to receiving a call from a distant relative.

Thomas Jefferson said it better than anyone;

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”


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