Imagine spitting into a tube and mailing your DNA off only to discover that you had a sibling who had been adopted by another family or that a parent’s affair had resulted in a half-sibling. For many individuals, these family secrets have been exposed due to direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies, such as 23andMe.
By the 1950s, most states had enacted statutes that sealed adoption record files in order to preserve the privacy of the birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive families. While some states have moved toward granting adoptees access to their adoption records, most states still have some type of restriction on an adoptee’s access to these records. However, with the advent of direct-to-consumer DNA tests, adoptees no longer need to rely on the court system to discover identifying information about their birth families. With a swab of cotton and a click of a button, adoptees can connect with relatives on 23andMe thereby completely circumventing the privacy goals of these adoption record laws.
This Comment analyzes the adoption record laws of four states and then compares those approaches to the privacy strategies being adopted by sperm banks to maximize donor privacy. This Comment also sets out the arguments for keeping the adoption files sealed and the counterarguments for allowing unrestricted access to adoption records. Finally, it proposes a Uniform Model Act that attempts to satisfy the arguments for opening adoption records while still mitigating the privacy damage to birth families who do not wish to be contacted.
Closed Adoption: An Illusory Promise to Birth Parents and the Changing Landscape of Sealed Adoption Records,
Cath. U. J. L. & Tech
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/jlt/vol28/iss2/7