Closed Adoption System: 50+ Years of Stolen Biological Rights and Broken Identities

The closed adoption system in America is broken, and has been for more than fifty years.  Just look to Facebook for proof of the lifelong wounds inflicted by the closed adoption system. Everyday, hundreds of desperate adoptees post photos embellished with birth dates and non-identifying information in hopes of finding family.

The closed adoption system steals identities and often results in lifelong personality issues.  Even after reunion, many adoptees report a sense of not feeling bonded or belonging 100% to their biological or adoptive families.  We adoptees live in a limbo that tests the concepts of nature vs. nurture and like a science experiment gone horribly wrong, many of us can only guess at the biological tendencies that define us.

Having experienced the all-encompassing sense of loss that adoption brings, and knowing that my birth mother suffered the same emotional trauma, I have been thinking about the origins of closed adoption.  Who first decided that it was ok to take a child from one woman, charge a fee, and hand it over to another family to raise? Who decided that stealing and sealing away the medical and birth records of adoptees was a just legal procedure?

Adoption in America started informally in the mid 1800’s, as a way to place orphaned children. According to, “In 1851, Massachusetts passed the nation’s first adoption statute. It required that judges determine if adoptive parents had consent from the adoptee’s guardian or parent, “sufficient ability to bring up the child,” and that it was “fit and proper that such adoption should take effect.”

Two years later, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society of New York in 1853. The Children’s Aid Society was meant to serve orphans, and created the Orphan train phenomenon. InfoPlease writes, “Between 1859 and 1929 some 200,000 orphaned children were transported from coastal cities to rural areas in the Midwest.”orphan train

After World War I, modern day adoption methods started to take shape. The choice to close off the records of adopted children was not a result of too many unwanted babies. It was a decision born of married couples wanting babies with no strings attached.  Adoption and social agencies supplied well-off couples with children and promised that biological families would not contact them.  Agencies claimed that closed adoptions would protect children against the social stigma of being illegitimate, and help them to bond.

Those of us who have searched or are currently searching know that the real stigma of closed adoption is being citizen with less inalienable rights than American’s who were raised by their biological families.  The idea that sealing away records would help a child to bond is the most laughable aspect of the closed adoption model.  Books like ‘Primal Wound‘ and ‘Being Adopted‘ chronicle the lifelong search for self, and the biological need to imprint that is inherent in all animals.

In the 1970’s, Roe vs. Wade and a change of social attitudes allowed for some open adoptions, but by then an entire generation of adoptees had been damaged. Many states are now considering laws that will allow adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates (OBCs), but for some the awakening of America will come to late.  How many biological mother’s went to their graves without ever once looking at their child? How many adoptees have searched in vain for information sealed away in their best interest?

It is sickening that in a country that prides itself on freedom of religion, protection of civil rights and freedom of speech, adoptees are still denied the right to know. Slavery was a broken system based on inequality, oppression and denial of basic human rights. It was abolished and slaves were freed.

When will adoptees be freed?
Blessings for equal access,

7 thoughts on “Closed Adoption System: 50+ Years of Stolen Biological Rights and Broken Identities

  1. This document, “Birth Records of Illegitimates and Adopted Children”, goes a long way to explain the sealed records system. It was written in 1930 and explains the mindset that sealed records even in step parent adoptions. A friend of mine posted it online, and when I read it my jaw dropped. This is about as close to a “smoking gun” of sealed records as you can get.

  2. The civil rights bill passed becuase the business community learned that segregation was not financially profitable to them.The same is occurring with same-sex marriages..the mortage and housing industry will have a boom as these couples build and buy homes. This is occurring not because all had a sudden these financial organizations find they have an empathy to the 13th amendment to the constitution. They are greedy. So ae the adoption agencys and prospective adoptee parents. But in different you just posted.
    Find a money issue to open OBCs. It may start with adoptees in a class action law suit against one adoption agency for not advising the adoptees parents that their mental health care cost for famiily councelers could be HUGE, between birth and age 18, and most likely would continue for life to the adoptee. But better yet, is to go public in the biggest way you can…SOMEBODY has to be the first to attempt a class action law suit against an adoption agency…this would make it very public that adoption does not work..or why would these adopyed adults be filing such a class action suit? Opra learned recently her mother reliquished her sister for adoption..present her with your case. FIND A GOOD high profile LAWYER.
    There is the 13th Amendment, but adopteed are an injured party that have not been protected by the US Consitutiton, but have been denied their legal rights…Here is a Federal Law your lawyer can use as a foundation to the suit.
    Google this: 42 USC Stutute 1983: Civil action for deprivation of rights, which states that “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Terriroty or the district of Columbia, subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Consititution and laws, ( including the 14th amendment) shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought agaist a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.

    KEEP THE WORLD UPDATED regarding this law suit…
    Thanks, Ginny

    • Thank you for your comment. Being adopted and having your identity locked away is dramatic. No way around the fact that closed adoption is ruining lives. I have heard from far too many adoptees and birth mother to think otherwise. Thanks again for reading!

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