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Posted on March 18th, 2011 by David R. Ford
I grew up (in the 1950’s and 1960’s) at a time when adoption was treated as a secret. The assumption seemed to be that the adopted kid was the product of an immoral liaison (unwed parents and so on). So it isn’t surprising that most state adoption laws of that era ensured that all of the facts of an adoptee’s birth were kept secret from the world. The paternalistic view seemed to be that the state was protecting the birth parents from the shame of an unwanted birth and the adopted child from the judgmental eye of the community.
We live in a different world now. We are more accepting (if not always tolerant) of complex family circumstances. Adoption sometimes seems almost a fad among celebrities. I am proud to have been adopted by my parents, and have had no qualms about writing a memoir of looking for my birth family. It’s hard to believe that so many states in America still don’t have laws that guaranty access to identifying information for adoptees and their birth and adoptive parents. If you are interested in this issue, consider checking out the organizations that are pursuing change, such as the American Adoption Congress (www.americanadoptioncongress.org).