The subject of adoption came up in conversation with a friend recently. I realized that, strangely, I don’t know many people involved with adoption, either as adoptors or adoptees. My mother has a friend and former coworker who was adopted. And I know an old family friend, a former babysitter of mine, who adopted a daughter. But I’m not in contact with either of them. I posed the question on Facebook if anyone was adopted, I have 655 friends there, I figured that statistically speaking at least one of them must be.
Two friends answered that they were adopted. And one friend said that she gave up a child for adoption when she was a teenager.
I thought of a news story that I read last month:
The state of Ohio unsealed decades of adoption records, after lobbying from adoption-rights activists, which will now enable thousands of adoptees to look up and possible contact their birth parent(s). Well, I’m going to take the possibly controversial position that I do not believe that anyone has an inherent “right” to know whom their biological parents are.
Yeah, I said it.
If your parents gave you up for adoption and don’t want you to know whom they are, that’s just tough luck for you. As I’ve written about before, my biggest “political” concern is in protecting our Right To Privacy. And in this situation, I believe that the parents’ right to privacy trumps the adoptees rights. And I worry (as is expressed by some in that news article), that if this right isn’t protected, it could negatively impact future adoptions.
Look, we know that many mothers consider adoption because of horrible circumstances, and if some are worried that if they give the child up he or she could unexpectedly show up on their doorstep 30 years down the line, whether they want to or not, they may decide that it’s not worth it and just get an abortion instead.
And, for the record, I’m 100% pro-choice, but I’m just saying if we want adoption to be a viable alternative to it, then the birth mothers’ privacy should be protected.
And this goes the opposite way too. If the adoptee doesn’t want to ever know or meet their biological parents, they shouldn’t have to worry that some stranger will show up on their doorstep someday saying “I’m your real mom/dad!”
In my opinion it should be voluntary. Such as in an open adoption from the beginning, which my friend who gave up a child told me she’s done (she chose the adoptive parents and gets regular updates from them on his progress), or the parent(s) can volunteer to put their names in a registry so if the adopted child ever wants to seek them out, or vice versa, they can be contacted.
Of course I realize that my viewpoint may be colored by the fact that I’m not adopted, nor have I given any children up for adoption. So I don’t really know what that’s like, this is all theoretical to me. But I think a lot of times that the media romanticizes adoption-reunions, both in fiction and real life. I’ve seen tons of biological child/parent reunions on talks shows over the years, where everyone is always happy and crying at being reunited and finding their long lost relatives. But I’m sure that’s not how it always goes. We don’t see the reunions where it goes badly. Let’s face it, like I said, some adoptions can occur for horrible reasons. The 14 year old girl who got pregnant after her stepfather raped her and has managed to get on with her life and put that all behind her may not want to be faced with the reminder of that event 20 years later. Sure, that’s probably an extreme example, but I’m just saying.
In many of the articles I saw about this some of the adoptees in support of the law would make claims about how they just want “medical information” from the parents. But, for the most part, I think that’s just an excuse. That’s rarely really necessary, science can detect what you have or are likely to get good enough if you get proper checkups. Y’know, I have ocular hypertension, which could develop into glaucoma. So I have to use eye drops every day, and likely will for the rest of my life, to prevent that. My mother, who I am close to, doesn’t have that. But I haven’t spoken to my father in over 20 years (voluntarily, I know who and where he is) I have no idea if he has it, or if anyone from his side of the family has it. But I didn’t need to know that beforehand. I just went to the optometrist for a check up and he caught it and sent me to an ophthalmologist for a better diagnosis. So there ya go. I think most adoptees who seek out their bio parents are looking for some kind of emotional connection. And while I can sympathize with that, as I said, I don’t think they have a “right” to it.
Just my opinion.