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Why adoption records should be open and available
for both PAST and FUTURE adoptions

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which was ratified by Canada in December 1991 and agreed to by every province except Alberta stated:

Article 2

  1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

  2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.

Article 7

  1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.

  2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

Article 8

  1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

  2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to speedily re-establishing his or her identity.

Sections 30, 101, 102, and 112 of The Adoption Act of Manitoba are in direct violation of Section 15 of the Constitution Act, 1982, Part 1, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The clauses prohibiting access to records by adopted persons are discriminatory and are prohibited under Section 15 of the Charter.

(taken from a letter to the representatives of the U.S. Congress from the members of ABORN: Adoptees and Birthparents for Open Records, February 2000)

quote: The offenses brought about by closed birth record legislation include the violation of constitutional rights.

Adoptees and their families are denied the enjoyment of various social and cultural privileges such as genealogical history, and tribal birth rights.

Without an original birth certificate, neither the adoptee, nor any of their future descendants will have an opportunity to possess a complete family medical history. A complete family medical history is a crucial foundation for quality medical care. Without it, genetically indicated preventative medicine, early testing and early diagnosis, a quick and accurate diagnosis, decisions on the best course of treatment, and ultimately, patient survival rate is severely impeded. The secrecy of adoption is not superior to the right to life, as closed birth record laws indicate. Allowing these crucial records to be kept a secret, even from those to whom they belong, trivializes and sacrifices these people's lives.

Our opponents would have you believe that granting an adoptee their original birth certificate would generate an increase in the amount of abortions performed. Statistics simply fail to prove that claim. The states that have always had open records, Kansas and Alaska, have two of the lowest abortion rates in the nation.

Another argument often raised is that of the Constitutional right to privacy which is often claimed by a minuscule amount of birthmothers. This is not a right to privacy that they are claiming, it is a right to total anonymity. Every citizen is afforded a certain level of privacy. This is evidenced by the passing of stalking laws that were written to protect this right. The granting of an original birth certificate at no time waives a birthparent's right to protection and remedies afforded them for a true and legally defined violation of privacy.

When the rights and privileges of any .....citizen are abused or denied, the rights of all ......citizens are in jeopardy. unquote

Child Welfare League of America Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services {Printed January 2000 by the Child Welfare League of America)

quote: 6.22 Access to Identifying Information

The agency providing adoption services should support efforts to ensure that adults who were adopted have direct access to identifying information about themselves and their birth parents.

The prevailing legal practice in the United States prohibits adults who were adopted as children from obtaining access to their original birth certificates or to identifying information contained in their adoption records. The practice of sealing records had come under scrutiny as the benefits of openness in adoption for the adopted individual, birth parents, and adoptive parents have come to be understood.

The interests of adopted adults in having information about their origins have come to be recognized as having critical psychological importance as well as importance in understanding their health and genetic status. Because such information is essential to adopted adults' identity and health needs, the agency should promote policies that provide adopted adults with direct access to identifying information. This trend toward openness has already been recognized by the Indian Child Welfare Act (P.L. 95-608). Under that Act courts must unseal records for American Indian children, on request, and provide any information necessary for the adopted individual to ascertain his or her tribal affiliation and membership. Such information may include the names of the adopted child's birth parents. unquote

(a similar law exists in Canada whereby aboriginal adoptees may apply to the Federal Government, Department of Indian Affairs, and receive their band numbers, which identifies the reserve where their birthmother lived. - RLK)

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