Psyched up and armed with ammunition from the conference I sent my friend the following via email:
"Do you think you could ask Jessica if she thinks NIH would be open to a study on the negative health impact of preventing those are adopted from access to their original birth certificate and the names of their biological progenitors, which thus prevents them from knowing their medical history?
"More than 4,000 diseases are caused by a single defective disease, as I am sure Jessica is well aware. Missing and sketchy health histories put adoptees at risk, especially as they age, yet only 4 states allow uncompromised access to original birth certificates for this stigmatized and discriminated population. Another four states allow some access with caveats and restrictions not applicable to non-adoptees.
"The arguments for keeping these records 'sealed' and secretive (which has only occurred since the 1940's and as late as the 1960's in some states) are fear of increased abortions and the alleged protection of 'promises' of confidentiality made to mothers when they relinquished. Both are false politicized propaganda by those who profit from adoptions, which is a multi-billion dollar industry. Adoption is entrepreneurial and unregulated with few regulations and ethical lines are crossed frequently with no protection for any consumers of adoptions services. Practitioners who arrange adoptions - and that can be ANYONE - work better under the cloak of secrecy.
"Although in theory adoption puts the best interest of the child first, the paying client in adoption is the adoptive parent. It was for their protection from invasion into their lives by a birthparent that the records were sealed in the first place - not the adoptee or the mothers who relinquish. Adoption practitioners still believe people will be less inclined to relinquish and adopt if they records are opened. Neither claim is substantiated. Inasmuch as there are far more people seeking to adopt than babies being relinquished and a demand that is causing kidnappings of children in less developed countries, there is no harm in reducing these numbers except in terms of profit. Kansas and Alaska which never sealed their records have witnessed no decline in adoption with the records remaining open and accessible, nor have they witnessed and increased in abortions. The same is true in England and other countries which never sealed records or have opened them.
"The medical community is well aware of the great importance of obtaining and maintaining an updated and as accurate and complete as possible medical history. US Surgeon General, Dr. Benjamin Carmona, for instance, heads the Family History Initiative. Adopted persons are issued a 'birth' certificate that lists their adoptive parents as their parents, and if there is no ethnic difference in their appearance, they may never even know that they are adopted. These people spend their lives giving their health care providers false medical history.
"As Vice President of Communications of Origins-USA, a national organization of such women, I have finger on the pulse of mothers who have relinquished and can testify to the fact that mothers are far more likely to release HIPAA protected medical information information directly to their child than to an agency. Attempts at establishing ways for medical information to be transmitted while still denying an adopted person access to his original birth certificate are not the solution.
"Of course, I would also really love to see $$ put into researching the creation of more family preservation programs to prevent unwarranted family separations via adoption.
"Again, of the money being made and a demand to fill, expectant moms are often pressured to permanently relinquish all rights to their child because of very temporary and easy to ameliorate issues such as youth, marital status, finances --- LACK OF ADEQUATE CHILD CARE - substance abuse.
"Pilot programs that foster mother ands child together have been very successful and cost effective.
"In Australia, when they made family preservation a priority they reduced the need for out-of-family placements almost entirely!
"The United Nations CRC and the Hague Convention on the International Adoption, both state that adoption should always be a last resort after all attempts at keeping the family together have filed. Family preservation should be first the priority, kinship care with extended family second - all before stranger adoption is considered. But because of the privatization of infant adoption and the profiteering in it, this is never done here.
"At-risk mothers are never given any legal counsel nor are there any requirements he is fully informed of her choices and the lifelong impact of her decisions. Often they are taken out of state and removed from any support system they may have otherwise had (the opposite of all family social service practice). Many expectant mothers once they get involved with adoption 'agencies' through ads in newspapers etc. are made to feel obligated to them because of payments made for their support. Some have been coerced by being told if they change their mind and want to keep their baby they would have to replay all their medical costs. They are matched and enmeshed with prospective adopters who call them birthmothers while they are still moms-to-be and who refer to the baby they are carrying as THEIR baby. babies are routinely handed over in the delivery room to prospective adopters who are present for the birth, allowing the new mother absolutely no time alone to bond and make a decision based on her child as a living human being who is related to her. States are routinely REDUCING the time mother shave to change their mind after signing papers that are also often give to them immediately after birth - even a c-section, even while not fully recovered from anesthesia.
"Pat, these are not hysterical undocumented tales. I can refer you or Jessica to professional journal article sources for all of this.
"And, now I promise I will preach no more. I am sorry to have gotten on my soap box, and hope it is not out of line to ask you to possibly as Jess, but I will leave that decsion to you. You can forward this information to her and see what she thinks, or not. I hope I have not over stepped any lines of our friendship in asking you if this is possible. I will understand if you feel it inappropriate to go about in this manner."