Give adoptees right to their identities

States should reconsider policies on releasing birth parents’ identities.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, and as evidenced by a doctor’s inquisition into a patient’s family health history, knowing the health of family members is essential to prevention, early detection and diagnosis.

But not everyone has the luxury of knowing even their own parents’ health history. In many states, adoptees are treated as a separate class when it comes to knowing their own identity and having equal opportunities to access family health history.

This week the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a leading adoption advocacy organization, released a report urging states to reconsider their policies on giving adult adoptees access to their birth records and birth parents’ identities.

The report found that prohibiting people from accessing information about their birth parents could have negative effects on their mental and physical health. Being able to find out the health history of birth parents could help people who’ve been adopted find out if they are at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and some mental health conditions.

Every person has a human and civil right to know basic information about oneself, especially when it influences their physical and mental health.

Some critics of releasing birth parents’ identities say that abortion rates will rise, and adoption rates will fall. But according to the report, evidence shows just the opposite. Providing access and the possibility for adopted adults to find their birth parents can have positive consequences for the birth parents too. Birth mothers often feel a sense of resolution when they find out about their children’s lives, according to the report.

In the states that allow access to original birth records, there’s no evidence of “problematic behavior by adopted parents” or harm to the birth mother, according to the report. Knowing family health history is vital to a person’s well being and every human being has a right to that.