But there is one thing no person can compromise without serious consequences to his own self-esteem, and that is his right to direct his own life and make his own personal decisions free of the interference of the State. The price of the intermediary compromise is too high in terms of pride, dignity and self-respect. The adoptee position rests on two principles that must remain inflexible. The first is that each person has a right to his own history and identity. The second is that adult adoptees have the same competence and right of non-adoptees to manage their own affairs without supervision of the State through its agencies. The underlying principle of the adoption movement is the determination to be free of those limitations that have not been imposed on non-adopted citizens. The issue is whether adoptees are to be allowed to emancipate from chattel-child status into autonomous adults, or are they to continue to be infantilized by the ongoing control of the State and agency, birthparents and adoptive parents? Lincoln once said “for although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it by being a slave himself.” Would legislators either seek or accept social work supervision of their own personal affairs? On what evidence do they decide that they are capable of managing without supervision, but adult adoptees are not?
In March of this year, the NJ Senate approved legislation to allow adult adoptees to get copies of their original birth certificates and medical histories. The bill still needs Assembly approval. In the interim, many parties are adding their voices to this discussion, one of which is the NJ State Bar Association (NJSBA). Dan Serviss, a partner in our Family Law Group and a member of the NJSBA committee that is submitting draft legislation, will discuss the important issues in this debate, for example:
* Should there be an intermediary between adult adoptees and birth parents?
* Is a one year opt out period for birth parents to register to remain anoymous?
* What are the concerns of adoptive parents and how might they be affected if any form of legislation is approved on this issue?
* What has been the history of both sides of this discussion?
Who should attend:
* Adoptive parents
* Biological parents
* Social Workers
* Human Resource professionals
* Anyone with an interest in the issue
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