Bill Would Jeopardize Confidential Adoptions
Special Report - July 28, 2009
A small group of North Carolina senators are trying to find some compromise on a bill that would jeopardize the confidentiality of parents who choose to place a child in a closed adoption. Sen. Don Vaughan’s subcommittee of Senate Judiciary II scheduled a second hearing on HB 1463Expand Access/Confidential Intermediaries last week. The bill seeks to amend the existing law regarding which relatives to an adoptee or biological parent may attempt to establish contact with each other through confidential intermediary services once the child is an adult.
A confidential intermediary is defined as “a licensed adoption agency staff person who may act as a third party to facilitate the sharing of information” between adult adoptees and biological relatives in an attempt to establish contact. House Bill 1463 would expand the list of persons able to access confidential intermediary services to include not only adult adoptees and biological parents, but also adult biological siblings and half siblings of adult adoptees, adult family members of deceased adoptees, and adult family members of deceased biological parents. It would also allow confidential intermediaries to obtain a copy of a death certificate if the subject of the search is deceased, and allow the confidential intermediary to provide the death certificate to the individual who contracted for the confidential intermediary services to search for a relative.
Members of the subcommittee expressed a particular interest in protecting the identity of mothers who may choose a closed adoption when pregnancy results from sexual abuse or assault. In such cases, senators fear that without a guarantee of complete anonymity forever, mothers may be less likely to give their child up for adoption and more likely to choose an abortion. The automatic release of a biological parent’s death certificate, if requested by his or her adult child, worries legislators, who point out that a victimized mother may never have revealed her pregnancy to her family and friends. Because of the identifying nature of a death certificate, adult adoptees would find it much easier to contact relatives of their biological parent without consent.
The North Carolina Family Policy Council has argued for the superior responsibility to honor and protect the interest of the minority of mothers who choose a closed adoption.
“The changes proposed in this bill would violate the understanding of confidentiality many parents have when they place children for adoption through a closed adoption process,” said Brittany Farrell, research associate for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “North Carolina law is very clear that an adoptee’s legal ties to their biological parents are entirely severed at adoption. This bill would compromise that bright line and eliminate adoption as a viable solution for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who desires to maintain her anonymity.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.