When an adoption is finalized, the adopted child's original birth certificate, records of the court proceedings, agency reports and other documents pertaining to the adoption are "sealed" from public view. With few exceptions, U.S. states and Canadian provinces do not allow parties to the adoption to access these records.
While state legislatures debate legislation that would unseal or "open" these records to adult adopted persons across the U.S., it's often forgotten that adoption records were not always sealed. In "Sealed Adoption Records: Knowing and Noing," Douglas Loomer wrote for a law school class:
"This situation results in large measure from the efforts of adoptive parents organizations in the 1940's. As a result of lobbying pressures, the traditional American policy of open adoption records was reversed in all but two states. The rationale behind closing the records was that it would protect the process and the parties, and encourage adoption, by insulating: the child from the stigma of bastardy; the biological parents from possible embarrassment; the adoptive parents from intrusions; and, the state from the need to build more orphanages." (read more)
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