I’ve already posted my main response to this week’s writing prompt for one of my classes, in which I argue adoption is not a reproductive right but I thought I would share my response to a fellow student who argued that adoption is a right for adoptive parents.
At one point in my life, I felt very much the same way you did: adoption is a right. However, when I started listening to the voices and lived experience of the very people adoption is supposed to benefit—adoptees— I unlearned many of my biases regarding what is and what isn’t a reproductive right. I figure since they are the experts on what it feels like to live an adopted life, they probably have a lot to teach the rest of us. And this is what I learned.
No one should be prohibited from adopting based on sexual orientation, race, religion, or gender. If a person is a fit parent, they should not be prohibited from adopting and courts across the land agree. However, not prohibiting a person from adopting does not grant them the right to adopt. Framing adoption as a right sets adoptive parents at odds with the rights of their adopted child when he or she reaches the age of majority. It also creates an environment where entitlement abounds and can lead to grievous violations of human rights for both the adoptee and the birth parents.
Adult adoptees have been engaged in an ongoing struggle since the late 1970’s to have their civil rights restored so they can gain access to their original birth certificate, as well as to end the human rights violations that occur when a person’s original identity, heritage, and culture are obscured and even lost in the adoption transaction. Opponents to open records cite the primacy of the birth and adoptive parents’ rights, claiming they are superior to that of the adult adoptee. While 42 of the 50 states still prohibit an adoptee from accessing their original birth records, people across the country are beginning to realize that an adoptee’s rights are human rights and are moving to open records in their state. The most recent state to declare the supremacy of adoptee rights over birth or adoptive parents’ rights is Indiana, who just passed an open records bill today—the bill now moves on for a signature from the governor, which it looks like he will do.
As a mother of four children, I understand the deep-seated psychological need to be a parent, but this is one of those instances where we must listen carefully to those whose rights are most vulnerable, and that is the rights of the adoptee. If you would like more information about adoptee rights and how viewing adoption as a reproductive issue thwarts those rights, you can read more at Americans for Open Records, the Adoptee Rights Coalition, and Bastard Nation.
All the best-
P.S. I address this issue at length in my discussion board post, too. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am what is known as an “adoptee light.” My step-father adopted me when I was 27-years old. While I have my original birth certificate tucked securely away, there are millions of Americans who are prohibited from accessing their original birth certificate.