Monday, March 15, 2010

Should adoptees get a first mother's medical, cultural and social history?

A excellent piece on an issue I first brought to you here on March 5, and March 6...

an issue being heatedly discussed on Facebook: Adoptee access to agency files.

I encourage you to read the post and comments on BirthMother/FirstMother


maryanne said...

I have posted comments on this on FMF. The way those comments are going is rather upsetting, as the issue of medical records being given to adult adoptees has gotten mixed up with the Juman case where adoptive parents sued the Louise Wise agency for lying to them about the background of the son they adopted, with dire consequences.

Michael Juman was born to a lobotomized permanently hospitalized schizophrenic. The father was a mental patient as well, I believe also suffering from schizophrenia. The agency made up a false background for the child, that his parents were normal, successful college students, When they boy developed schizophrenia as an adolescent, the agency refuse to give his parents correct information.The adoptive parents sued the agency. The boy died, probably a suicide. He had wanted to search and to know what was in his background. It certainly would have made a difference in early treatment and diagnosis had his parents been given the truth when they adopted him, but the agency lied and covered it all up. Is this right???

I do not see where this tragic case has anything to do with "birthparent privacy rights" to medical records, but some people feel differently. This was not some social worker's skewed opinion of a surrendering mother, but a serious incurable medical condition that rendered the mother unable to raise her child. She was not competent to consent or deny release of information.

I feel in cases like this it is the agency's moral duty to inform prospective adoptive parents of everything they know about the child's medical background. They were wrong to withhold information they had, even more wrong to lie. The mother did not need their dubious protection in this case, and was in no condition to convey any sort of information herself.

That this kind of case has gotten mixed into the debate about whether or not adoptees should have access to mother's medical history has made me understand what some adoptees are so angry about, and fearful about the mean spirited attitudes on both sides. I do not think the letter of the law should replace compassion and common sense, as those who would deny this information to adoptive parents and adoptees even in cases of extreme mental illness seem to be favoring. This is a hard line with a hard heart.

AdoptAuthor said...

I have no have not read all the comments there however I know from the Facebook discussions that one of the concerns of mothers is that they too could be sued if it was REQUIRED that they provide updated medical info and then fail to. We live in a litigious society and too much morality is legisaltnd. What abut forcing FATHERS to contribute any information??? What about mothers who have gone back to their agencies to report a health update and it was not shared/ What about reciprocal sharing that could save the lives of a mothers' subsequent children? And WE are the one who are hard-hearted for trying to protect ourselves from abuse? I don't think so. We relinquished our right to raise our children, we did not relinquish any other rights and deserve the same protection under the law of confidential things told to a social worker as anyone else would enjoy.

It also proves that agencies lie and any information from them may or may not be true - yet it might contain same really basty stuff about us that is untrue and would keep our kids from ever wanting to know us.

The moral thing is to have enforced open adoption or common adoption! That's morality! Not agencies who play God with people's lives!! The other moral thing is to allow adoptees access to their OBC and then they are on a level playing field with all others and can. As for the case you mention, I support access to the OBC for adult adoptees and foe the parents of minor adoptees for just such medical or emotional need.

I think it very unfair to blame us for the immorality of the adoption system and adoption gencies! We did not create these problems - we are victims of them just as much as adoptees. We didn't create the problems and we cannot be asked to resolve all of its short-comings even to our own undoing. No!

AdoptAuthor said...

Case in point: Should I be held legally liable for not knowing at the time of my relinquishment that depression and suicide ran in my family? Or not updating when I found out?

maryanne said...

Let's get back to the specifics of the Juman case which has nothing to do with anyone suing about providing updated medical information in an ongoing way. That is hypothetical. The facts of this case are that the condition existed at the time of surrender, the agency knew, they lied. Nobody is blaming the mother here. That has nothing whatsoever to do with this kind of case.

That some people think it does is really scary. I never thought I would see you defending a lying agency like Louise Wise.

AdoptAuthor said...

Fear of being sued by adoptive parents is a far cry from"defending" lousy agency practices! NO ONE is doing that!

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

actually, the Jumans did ask for updated information from the adoption agency. They asked for it when Michael was in high the 1980s. That was when they realized he had a mental condition. There was no evidence of illness in the child at birth, and none until he was nearly an adult.

They were able to get some help from a doctor who had some records on the natural mother. Michael's psychiatrist was able to communicate with a doctor who had some access to her history.

Michael also was able to search for his mother and he did find her family. But he was thwarted from meeting his mother. This was something that meant a great deal to him...and he was prevented from re-uniting with seems, from both sides of his family.

Sandy said...

I believe strongly that parents (mother and father) have a moral obligation to ensure updates to medical history are provided as info becomes known.

I also believe that agencies must and should contact the other party when an update is given and that the other party should recieve that info at no cost.

I also believe that if you do not agree that your placed child has the right to the same info your raised child/ren would know by the default of being raised in your family then you need to examine whether or not you truly love the child placed for adoption.

AdoptAuthor said...

If a mother doesn't care to have either her relinquished or kept kids knowing sordid details such as a rape or adultery or drug use or alcoholism, promiscuity, abortion(s)or whatever...then she doesn't love them??

I very much disagree and find your words a very harsh and cruel condemnation. It might be BECAUSE of her love that she wants to protect them as well as preserve a relationship with them and not be judged poorly - especially by a child who does not know her and might never know her based on reading some sordid tale packed with lies, exaggerations and judgments!

maybe said...

What some people just can't understand is that we are concerned about the industry's attempt to shift liability from themselves onto the natural mother. Yes, the Wise agency lied and was sued because of that lie and put out of buisness. Fair enough.

Shifting the burden to natural mothers to provide COMPLETE and ACCURATE (and even ONGOING, as argued for by another commenter, above) medical histories is a result of agenices being sued and looking for an "out" for any liability. Natural mothers are the perfect target, and if anyone is naive enough to think that neither APs nor agencies would stoop so low as to sue natural mothers, they are sadly mistaken. It is only a matter of time.

To the poster above who said we don't love our children if we don't provide ongoing medical info, I would like to suggest that APs who don't have fully open adoptions must not truly love their children. After all, if the child can see his natural mother on a weekly basis (or even more often) there would be no mystery about illnesses or other conditions. APs who refuse this interaction are not acting in the best interet of the child (LEGITIMATE safety reasons excluded in cases of TPR due to abuse).

Like Mirah stated on another blog, non of this would even be an issue if adoption was completely changed to be either common adoption or fully open (with legal enforcement).

AdoptAuthor said...

The likelihood of a SUCCESSFUL lawsuit against a mother for incomplete or inaccurate "back when", or for updated info is nil, IMHO. However, that doesn't preclude someone from trying and costing one bookooo bucks for attorney to fight it.

They'd have no leg to stand on in either case. We give s much as we can and what we know. Unless they actually want to subpoena our and our parents' actual medical records - HIPAA be damned - they will get whatever they get. And I have stated from the jump that there is no way on earth they could ever pass a law REQUIRING updated info be submitted because it is totally unenforceable.

I mean, I just got my census in the mail and it says "Your response is required by law" yet we know the census bureau spends big bucks tracking down those who do not file and they are not prosecuted for not filing!

How would anyone ever know that we had some new condition that needed to be updated? The idea is preposterous. The only issue is access to old records - which are just that, old and useless. If it upsets mothers - and it does - adoptees ought to drop it. It would help them pass their bills to keep them CLEAN. They'd more likely get the support of the ACLU without invading our privacy....and Donaldson!

maryanne said...

If there were no adoptions (isn't that the real agenda of some here) or they were all fully open, no, we would not be having this discussion. "if wishes were horses then beggars would ride...."

But there are adoptions, and will continue to be, and not all are open and there are many people who have no access to any information except through records kept by agencies, so there does need to be a way to deal with that.

I agree that it is selfish to withhold medical information that might be helpful to the child, and while that child is a minor to the adoptive family. I do not think any of us need worry about being sued over medical information or anyone being forced to give actual medical files from a doctor or hospital. Agencies keep their own records , but they are not actual medical records like a doctor would have. And agencies have always set their own policies for releasing this non-identifying info that has nothing to do with access to birth certificates.Even under sealed records such information is routinely collected and shared with adoptive parents and adoptees. This not something new and radical.

The law discussion that started all this was about asking mothers of adult adoptees to fill out a medical form if they did not want contact with their child. I doubt there would be any way to force anyone to fill out that form, nor any way to prevent them from leaving off salacious details of their abortions, rapes, affairs, VD etc. Most of us have very boring and routine medical histories anyhow:-)

Why has this become such a big deal? No, I do not think requiring a form like that, nor any veto on information release, is a good idea, but really folks, it is not the end of civilization as we know it!

maybe said...

Successful, who knows, but one could go bankrupt trying to defend such as suit.

All adoptees need and should have a legal right to is the OBC; they have confused the issue by asking for medical info, ancestry, etc.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

Unless one has seen their medical file, one does not know what the agency actually has on file.

and unless one has spoken with the agency about their policies on releasing information, one does not know that either.

I have in my possession my medical file from my agency, and it is indeed, a medical file, filled out and signed by my own private obstetrician. it contains highly personal female gynecological information that has no bearing whatsoever on (1) my grandchild's health or (2) genetics.

there is also some "history" that is totally fabricated concerning the natural father,and his family, who were not even there and never met the doctor.

My agency has told me, in writing, that they *will* release this personal medical file to the mother of my grandchildren or even to my great-children.

I am fighting them on this. there is no law that says that they must do this.

I have been re-united for over 20 years and have met the adoptive family. There are no hidden identities. We have been exchanging medical information since we first re-united.

I do understand the need for "necessary medical information"..but my gynecological pregnancy issues are not my grandchildren's business.

AdoptAuthor said...

Kitta, very effective argument! May I have your permission to use it in full or in part with the NJ CARE legislative team? Also,let me know how you'd like to be identified, if t all. You can email or Facebook me (Link to the right, right here).

I have bene in contact with my agency repeatedly over the past 40 years and cannot get a redacted copy of the surrender I signed!! Can you believe it!!

Sandy said...


I clearly stated MEDICAL HISTORY, not social, not rape etc. I needed mine and had nothing. I am now disabled and would not have been IF I had been told that my two previous generations had died early deaths from the same cause...I did not die but should not have survived my event...but with knowledge I may have avoided it all together and still had the life before my event.

AdoptAuthor said...


Yes you did say medical in your opening sentence.

However you ended with: "I also believe that if you do not agree that your placed child has the right to the same info your raised child/ren would know by the default of being raised in your family then you need to examine whether or not you truly love the child placed for adoption." I was unsure about was included in "the same INFO..."

I should have asked if you are you still referring there to medical info in that sentence? I apologize if I made an incorrect assumption.

Even so...Kippa's last reply shows clearly that the agency's "medical" records can contain unnecessary and embarrassing information.

I agree with you that things should be equal for adopted and non adopted offspring. No non-adopted person has access to their mothers' medical records. They can ASK their mothers. As adoptees can with access to their OBC.

And I stand my statement that your judgment of lack of love is harsh. I understand how, as an adoptee you might feel that way, however, as a mother, I feel that many adoptees are being very selfish and have no regard for their mother having any rights of privacy whatsoever. They seem the think that because they are adopted they are entitled to things non-adoptees are not.

Mandy Lifeboats said...

""Ideally, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) proposes in Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services, agencies should supply pre-adoptive parents with complete medical, mental health, developmental, psychological, educational, and social information about the child, as well as his or her immediate birth family, and other birth relatives back several generations. CWLA also calls for detail, asking for instance that agencies disclose the child's prenatal care (including drugs or medications used during pregnancy) plus genetic links to diseases or disorders or positive family traits like longevity.""

Note above is speaking about "pre-adoptive parents" and ""as well as his or her immediate birth family, and other birth relatives back several generations.""

Several generations????? They gotta be kidding me!

Please take a read at the above link..I thought it quite interesting.

""In a February 17th Information Memorandum, HHS states that "[s]ome title IV-E child welfare agencies may be defined as health care providers." The memo concludes, however, that "HHS and the Children's Bureau cannot determine whether all child welfare agencies are subject to HIPAA's regulations."
In short, most state agencies have had to decide for themselves whether HIPAA regulations apply. Unfortunately, many agencies that try to follow HIPAA have begun to limit key medical information disclosure to pre-adoptive parents.""

Anyone care to interpret, comment, opine and/or expand on what is written at this link?

AdoptAuthor said...

Thank you, Mandy! This is just classic. they are scrambling to circumvent HPAA by declaring agencies "health care providers" who them would be entitled to share information from doctors!!

I also LOVE the section entitled "Parents" that addressees the rights of the PROSPECTIVE adopters!!

I was at a conference once in a workshop I had all I could do keep from literally throwing up as they discussed their right to drug test "their" prego "birthmother"!! It sounded like they were breeding prize bulls or race horses or show dogs. Their other MAJOR concern was STD testing!! I was so SICK to my stomach!! And so saddened. They wanted the highest quality PRODUCT possible! They treated these expectant moms like total brood stock - surrogates, handmaids...


Sandy said...


In my last paragraph I am only talking about what the raised child would learn about by default of having been raised in the family relating solely to medical history. Grandma died of a heart attack but she was old, grandpa died of a stroke and I don't remember him as I was really little, aunt sue had breast cancer when I was about 10, my sister has diabetes...all those things we learn by being part of the family.

That is the information mothers and fathers must insure all their children have access too. I am talking about mothers and fathers writing their own family histories updates. No names need to be provided, the degree of relatedness is all that is necessary to provide the doctor a roadmap of what might be instore for the patient...a direction to turn to. Insurance companies do not pay for testing without medical history if you do not fit the standard risk profile. If you are not willing to hand over that document to the agency/state then you could place a letter in the file stating you have life saving family medical info but will only give it to a judge, through a lawyer etc - something that gives an avenue to follow.

I stand by my last statement because if there is a will there is a way to say at least you tried to make sure the child will have info that could save their life. If a person has not tried to give that info what does it say?

AdoptAuthor said...


I totally agree that a mother should TELL her children that information. With OBC access, they cna ask and she can tell.

BTW - when my grandparents passed we were told they died of "old age." I am not adopted and have no idea if any of my grandparents had heart disease, strokes or what. And guess what? I never will know because have no records I can access t find out that information. I have what my parents told me. Nothing more and nothing less. Why should adoptees have MORE?

AdoptAuthor said...

Correction to me comment of March 16, 2010 8:12 AM.

I said "Kippa" and that should have read KITTA.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

"HHS and the Children's Bureau cannot determine whether all child welfare agencies are subject to HIPAA's regulations."
In short, most state agencies have had to decide for themselves whether HIPAA regulations apply. Unfortunately, many agencies that try to follow HIPAA have begun to limit key medical information disclosure to pre-adoptive parents"

Mandy thank you for this quote. This fits with my experience with my agency.I note that HIPAA *limits* what agencies can tell pre-adoptive parents, because medical information is private and protected under HIPAA.Without a consent,from the person whose information it is, the information cannnot be released without court order.

The agencies, like mine, are trying to *avoid* HIPAA's rules by saying they are not a medical provider, so, in other words...*they are outside the law*. My agency has said to me in writing... they can release my medical files to any of my descendants and their guardians. They have tried to play fast and loose with my medical file, which did indeed come from my obstetrician...and is signed by him....a file I never saw in my life until just a few months ago.

However, they are not being honest...they were indeed a medical "provider" of mental health counseling under the laws of the state at that time and that was confidential,protected, just like a psychiatrist's patients' counseling would be(I even asked the LCSW social worker at the time). They were a covered entity at that time under the privacy laws that existed then.

Furthermore, they assumed medical guardianship for my child. They were required to get consents and explain what they were for.They got medical care for my child. There were limits for the medical information, limits for the release, and limits for the use of it. They kept medical files on both of us.

It wasn't their medical information.It was/is still my and my child's medical information(one file was a pediatric file). We were the patients/clients. State law defines those records as mine, even now, and that is why I was able to get copies of them.

State law does allow them to release "medically necessary information" but the request has to be specific and it has to show cause. There is no law that says that any descendant of a natural parent, in an adoption, has an automatic right to the entire medical file, on demand.

AdoptAuthor said...

Kitta said: "they were indeed a medical "provider" of mental health counseling under the laws of the state at that time and that was confidential,protected, just like a psychiatrist's patients' counseling would be(I even asked the LCSW social worker at the time)."

Bingo! Exactly! Which makes all conversations with our social workers - or nuns, etc. - confidential like anything said to a shrink or clergy. (Not like we re saying we committed murder or intended to.)

You mentioned GYN records. Happened to be at mine today and had to answer some very personal and sensitive questions about my sexual history for medicare, such s how old I was when I had intercourse fo first time and if I had more than five partners in my life.

It really got me thinking. I don;t know if questions like this were asked back "in the day" but they are being asked now for medicare and may also be asked for medicaid.

Additionally, suppose a mother was raped, or had had an abortion or had an STD. This NONSENSE about it all being info that ANY of our kids would have access to is total BS as these are NOT things I would share with any of kids if it applied to me! Would you? It's in the category of none of their damn business as it would not be genetically inheritable - or contagious to them!

Yet, such info could be either in our "social" or our medical history.

And you ask why I don't think out adopted out kids should have access. And this makes me - or any of us protecting our rights - not love our kids! Then fine, I don't love my kids if it means they'd have access to knowing any sick stuff like that about me! Not their business! Does not effect them! I have a right to some darn privacy without being accused of being a bad or unloving mother!!

I'd cut out my own heart to save ANY one of my kids! This would not help them in any way.

I hope Sandy, you are still reading here and understand the difference. If asiked, I'd gladly share all medical history i know - which have doe for my subsequent kids, including psychological family history.

KITTA - special request. A couple of my followers PM'd me to ask if I knew who you are.

If you are comfortable - is there anything you can share about yourself. Disclaimer: It won't be confidential! :-)

Sandy said...

Adopt Author:

If you go back and read my comments I am talking specifically about medical history being "updated" as info is known - whether it is actual info placed in the file (and you would be the author of that info) or a letter placed in the file that there is important info that needs to be known but will not provide in this avenue and must be done via the court.

No where did I state that I should get my mother or fathers intimate medical/social file that is from the time of the adoption. I am talking about the mother or father "updating" their file for their child at the agency or noting in a letter etc. With info that you determine to be of benefit because it pertains to hereditary info like early breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes etc. The same info a raised child would learn by default of living in that home. If you would not tell your raised child something - no where did I state you should give that info to your adopted out child.

We are not at odds on what should not be released - and even though the courts opened my file I did not ask for that info and one of the deciding factors in opening my records was the need to provide my info to my family - I just believe files should be "updated by both the mother and the father" even if it is simply a letter.

As it stands right now we don't have access to OBC's in many states unless we have become sick enough that the judege opened our files - this currently is our only access to info and it would be nice if there was an update...waiting until the laws have changed will be too late for many of us from the that can change the care we currently receive or don't receive because we don't have a familiy medical history showing the need for that early screening, additional tests etc.

Mirah Riben said...

And the irony of all of this is that the use the excuse of protecting our privacy to keep OBC's sealed!

Would you rather have someone knock on your front door, and have an opportunity to speak,invite them in or say no and close the door....OR, have them sneak in your back door when you're not home and rummage through your personal papers...some I don't even know about?

The later feels FAR MORE invasive and lacking in any protection of my privacy or confidentiality. We each deserve the right to share what we chose to share. Period. That is how it works outside of adoption.

Not only do adoptees deserve equality - but so do mothers!

Let us not forget that in order to love someone, we do not have to be doormats or accept abuse. That is NOT love!

AdoptAuthor said...

Sandy - I am in full agreement with VOLUNTARY reciprocal medical updates placed in the file specifically to be shared and think agencies should be liable when they do not share such information, including a waiver and an interest in reunification - as has happened.

I am sorry I have been slow to see that we are in agreement. Yes, sadly far too any of us will likely be dead before proper changes take place.

Mirah Riben said...

21st century issues: If a mother stores cell blood at the time she births a child that is subsequebtly relinquished. Do the adoptive parents have a right to sue for access to that life sving mateiral - or to even enquire if it exists? Is there enough stored for more than one chld who might need it??? I see Lifetime movie!

As with all these type of issues - enforced opennes si the sane, moral, sensble solution.

Another issue changing with time...the adult adopte population will continue to be made up more and more of transnational adptees whose OBCs are in their homelan. and thus not under the auspices and control of US law, it would seem?? Di Korean adult adoptees, for isstance, suppot equl access legisaltion, I wonder...

Anonymous said...

Health history related to adoptees is routinely offered by agencies in the context of post-adoption services. Are the many people posting to this blog aware of this? I have not seen anything in the OBC movement in any state that calls for the transfer of medical records of birth parents to adoptees. If anyone can find this specific language, I'd really like to see it posted here. Thanks.

AdoptAuthor said...

S799 currently proposed in New Jersey as discussed in the blog post mentioned (herein (with link) as well as here: and

AdoptAuthor said...

Note that S799 does not speficially state medical records, but it too vague and that is the concern. If you've read the comments you can see the concerns.

S799 is one current specific example. The problem is far more widespread and occurs every time reformers use vague language about access to "records" such as in their petition:

Some (many? most?) adoptees totally defend their alleged "right" to medical history. You can see that even in the comments here that mothers are not all of one opinion on the issue.

Most post-adoption information is limited to non-identifying.

Anonymous said...

kitta, reunited mother here:

AdoptAuthor. I am just one of many reunited mothers, and that is my identity. I recently got my medical files, which I was entitled to by state law, from the agency which had placed my child. I was shocked when the agency told me they would pass on the very personal and private ob/gyn information from decades ago to my descendants. This was very definitely a medical record, and signed by the ob/gyn.

There was also 'information" under my name that referred to the natural father of my child, and to his family. But..he had never met my ob/gyn and neither had his family members and I had not supplied any medical information on any of them. So..could I be held responsible for that?

This medical record is not the adoption agency' is mine..
Every year, when I go to my ob/gyn where I live now, I have to sign a privacy agreement. Same with any other doctor I see.

Yet, the adoption agency says they will release a decades-old private medical record to my descendants without my consent.

Disclaimer:you may use my comments if you wish, with your work in NJ. This is a public blog, and I don't think you need my

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

to Sandy:

I too agree that updated medical information should be accepted by agencies. There should be ways that adoptive families can exchange information with the natural families.

Direct communication is best, but if that is impossible, then the agency can act as an intermediary and pass on the information.

Legal consents would be required in order to start the process but that really is not a difficult issue. It is accomplished mainly by the use of one of those "hold harmless" clauses that is put into the contract when a third party handles the transfer of information.

maryanne said...

Agencies have been giving out non-identifying medical information at their own discretion for years. Medical information by itself is not identifying. Generally I think adoptees having access to any information they can get is good thing, but should not be part of OBC bills, a separate issue. Mixing the two is unfortunate.

Bills like the current NJ one specify that birthmothers who do not wish contact fill out a medical history form instead that will be given to the adoptee, anonymously. This creates its own problems, as in why would someone who did not care enough to want to meet her kid care enough to fill out a medical history form? Also, as a condition that a veto stay in place it is state blackmail.

I may be mistaken but I do not think any of that kind of legislation involved access to anyone's medical records as held by a doctor or hospital, so I do not see all the furor about HIPPA(sp?) laws as really relevant here.

Some mothers are upset that what the agency has on file about them is not accurate, or is embarrassing or damaging to their reputation or both. They do not want their child to read what the social worker said about them. While I can sympathize with this, I do not see it as the huge problem or invasion of privacy that some do. I am not a supporter of "birthmother privacy" from their own kids in any guise including this one.

My son can (and my other kids) can have any records on me that exist, as I have nothing to hide. I do not really understand how this all became such a hot issue with some people.

Mirah Riben said...

"I may be mistaken but I do not think any of that kind of legislation involved access to anyone's medical records as held by a doctor or hospital, so I do not see all the furor about HIPPA(sp?) laws as really relevant here."

If you do a more thorough read of the comments here you will see that this being debated. Some of us believe that what is said to a professional social worker as counseling iS held to that standard.

The fact that you, yourself - or any other individual mother - have no problem is really irrelevant, just as is the fact that many adoptees don't give a hoot at all about any of this and could care less if they never see their own OBC or ever meet a relative. It is no different than the few mothers trotted out by NCFA who want no access at all. Rights are still rights - adoptees and ours, whether you think so or not, last I checked I was a citizen of the US and did not give that up with my daughter.

You ask: "why would someone who did not care enough to want to meet her kid care enough to fill out a medical history form?"

MaryAnne, this, like your other comment seems to me to indicate that it is difficult for you to think outside your own experience and imagine anyone else's. I myself cannot imagine not wanting to meet my child - it was all I thought about from the moment I let her go. But I am quite cognizant of the fact that some mothers are scared to death that such a knock at the door will shatter a life built on lies! Being afraid of their subsequent kids or their husband finding out is not, however, inconsistent with not wanting to cause harm to their child by releasing medical records - as long as no one else knows about it.

Can't you understand being conflicted and having mixed emotions? Caring about the child's life and welfare but being afraid to actually meet? Adoptees feel that way all the time - wanting info but not wanting to meet.

MaryAnne, you are you. Each of us is unique. people have different reasons and different feelings about the same situation. I have compssion and can see MANY things that a mother might not want ANY of kids to know, nor as I have I said, do they NEED to know!

Did you read the questions I was just asked by my OBGYN? Why does ANYONE on this earth need to know how many sexual partners I have had in my life or when my first sexual experience was? YOU my have nothing to hide. Your husband may be your first and only. I know several women like that...but not so for others.

Why does anyone need this info and why should anyone have access to it is beyond me and and I support and defend anyone's right to keep it private. It doesn't have to be a law that helps me personally for me to support it or be opposed to it! That's a very narrow view of life, IMO and a selfish, self-centered one --- the view, not you.

Like many people say: If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. But keep your laws off my body! Many of us do not want law that violates OUR privacy. If you don't care good for you - but others DO and they have rights, too!

Mirah Riben said...

BTW - I am not posting under two different identities to hide anything or mislead. I have 2 gmail accts and am sometimes logged in on one and sometimes the other. Mirah Riben IS AdoptAuthor. No secrets about that!

maryanne said...

Oh come now Mirah, I was not "pure as the driven snow" all my life either:-) But none of my "bad taste in men" is in any of my medical records because I never had any condition where that might be relevant. And my kids are aware of what an asshole I was in my younger days. Like just about everyone from our generation except the deeply religious or terminally ugly! It is not really shocking, especially not to younger folks.

From what I can see, everyone commenting here is speaking for themselves, their personal preferences, fears, hang-ups etc, not just me. And as you say, we are all entitled to our point of view, but mine is no less valid than that of those holding the opposing viewpoint.

I do not see this argument about rights as much as about control, mothers wanting total control about what their kids can know about them. That may be a valid point of view, but it is not especially noble or grand or altruistic, no more than the opposite. Just two different takes on the same issue, from two different personal perspectives.

Can you ever get off your high horse as Defender of All Mothers?

maryanne said...

"Too compassionate"??? It has already gotten plenty ugly and not just from my side. Yes, indeed end it, lest you keep reminding me why we are no longer friends.

Sandy said...


Thank you - I was at the point of giving up.

I would have loved the chance to meet and get to know my one thought to find a way to provide the info that would have helped me avoid the same event that took her and my grandmother too early...

People need to realize info needs to be voluntarily "updated" by whatever means they are comfortable with and that it can save the life of one of their family. That message is lost and impacts many.

And at the same time as providing that message (which would remove that topic from the OBC topic because a voluntary update or letter is available) we can fight for the right for adoptees to have access to their OBC's on its own merits as a human rights issue.

Anonymous said...

Kitta here:

S799 specifically states,on page 9, line 10, section 10 (a) "An adopted person 18 years of age or older,a direct descendant 18 years of age or older if the adopted person is deceased, or the adoptive parent or guardian of a minor adopted person, may request the approved agency or intermediary that placed the child for adoption or conducted an investigation pursuant to section 12 of P.L. 1977, c.367 (C.9:3-48) to provide any available non-identifying family medical history information concerning the adopted person contained in that person's adoption file.

b. Upon receipt of a request pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the approved agency or intermediary shall provide the requester with a detailed summary of any available non-identifying family medical history information concerning the adopted person contained in the person's adoption file.

A similar provision exists in the bill on page 7,line 7, but it also includes cultural and social history information, in addition to the medical history, about the family.

Having "nothing to hide" is not the issue. Medical records are private and privacy is a right. We have a right to decide who gets to see those records or not.While some mothers might be comfortable with sharing gynecological medical record information with their descendants, I know many mothers who are not comfortable with that type of "sharing" and I am one of them..... .and, in fact, so is my own mother.

There is such a personal privacy value as "modesty" that used to be taught. There are those of us who still value those boundaries of modesty and privacy.

And, modesty and privacy are also recognized legally. Our bodies are our own and anyone who violates our sexual privacy may be guilty of a crime.An obscene telephone caller is guilty of a crime. A voyeur is committing a crime just by "watching.". Unwanted touching may be a crime.

There are several serious issues that have been described in this on-going discussion. All relate to the release of personal family/medical/cultural/social history that was obtained under confidential counseling sessions or medical privacy laws, and especially if the information was obtained/released without consent. The fact that some mothers might not have any concerns with regard to their own or their family's situations doesn't change the problem.

AdoptAuthor said...

"I never had any condition where that might be relevant."

Well - that's my point. None of our GYN history is RELEVANT!

Do you remember when we used to comment that some single moms who looked down their noses at mothers who relinquished and said "I could never do that!" were just LUCKIER than us? That anyone could have rubber break?

Bravo to you and anyone else who was lucky enough not to contract herpes or chlamydia or a myriad of other sTDS that might me an embarrassment but are *NOT RELEVANT* medically for any of our kids to know. Maybe you never had an abortion or attempted or wanted one with the child you relinquished, but had - would you really want him to know that? Would that help him in any way to know you tried to kill him??? Is it ReLEVANT? I think not! It should thus be kept confidential.

I defend the rights of mothers. It's in the masthead of this blog "protecting the rights and sanctity of original families." It's what I do. However, I do so with both feel firmly on the ground, not an equestrian!

I prefer to "err" on the side of being "too" compassionate and caring than the other way around.

Anonymous said...

kitta here:

"I defend the rights of mothers"


And those equal rights to private, confidential counseling, are indeed real.

This is a 14th Amendment issue:
Section 1. second sentence: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Mothers who surrender their children have the same rights as other US citizens. Their rights are not diminished. Surrender is not a crime. We have equal rights under the laws, and that includes privacy rights and protections.

Privacy, including sexual privacy, is also a right by extension to be found in the 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The 4th Amendment was used to overturn the laws in Connecticut which forbid the use of birth control devices.(Griswold v Connecticut, US Supreme Court, 1965).

We do have a right to be "secure in our persons" and "our papers" and "effects" that means that the gov't does not have the right to force the exposure of our confidential medical/social files by turning them over to other individuals without our consent.

We have the right to confidential counseling, without fear that our family medical and social history gossip will show up, or even be sold by someone, on the front page of a daily newspaper, because someone has been given our files without our consent.

I have seen that happen...and the family members who were written about were distraught. They had not given consent, nor had they been informed.

There is no reason to assume we are guilty of anything: being pregnant is not a crime and surrender is not a criminal act. Therefore, there is no probable cause for these unreasonable searches and seizures.....and there is no reason for the gov't to violate the 'security of our persons"...our very own personal and dignified privacy.

Mirah Riben said...

And - whatever rights we relinquished were relinquished SUBSEQUENT to revelation of confidential information shared in "counseling." At the time of our alleged "counseling" we were still parents of our children with full rights - nothing relinquished.

It is not as if we willingly gave this info to be shared with our adopted-out children, because most of us were still hoping we'd be "rescued" by our parents or boyfriends and not suffered the loss of our children. And had they may not have been adopted.

I fully support mothers voluntarily signing a waiver of any or all info in the files - just as I fully support access to OBCs. The OBC belongs to ALL named therein - as it is for non-adoption separated people. But I do not, cannot and will not ever support violating us by revealing confidentially acquired info without our permission.

I get that adoptees want what they want, and feel like the world owes them living) ss they say) but I cannot understand how MaryAnne does not get that!

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