Cross-posted from Bastard Nation.
The April 2019 (#130) edition of NCFA’s long-running newsletter Adoption Advocate is out. This month’ focus, The Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights, is written by Mark L Melson President and CEO of the Gladney Adoption Center. It caught my eye immediately because Texas HB2725, which restores the right of unrestricted OBC access to all Texas adoptees, is coming up for a hearing in the House Public Health Committee in a few days. While Gladney has remained publicly silent on the bill, no one seriously believes that Gladney, Keeper of the Seal in Texas, has fallen asleep at the wheel. Backooms exist for a reason and its not as if Gladney doesn’t hold a long-term lease on a suite.
The Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights is not particularly unreasonable as a whole. Like capitalism, adoption stays fluid in order to survive. The industry is always ready to tweak and grease its gears to keep running. Just look at how open adoption took hold 25+ years ago when product sources began to dry up.
The Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights reflects how much adoption procedures and ethics have changed over the 39 years since Gladney established NCFA to “ensure” records remain sealed from adoptees. How aparent rights, as outlined in this document, works itself out in practice, of course, can be another story. Moreover,I don’t see that The Adoption Advocate has published a companion piece on the rights of adoptees.
I am not here today, however, to analyze and deconstruct the Adoptive Parent Bill of RIghts. Instead, I want to point out the curious “Right 8” and ask what it actually means. The title should be clear, yet it’s ambiguous. Just what is Gladney advocating? Read it:
8. The right to have confidential information protected.
Confidentiality is critical in both the pre- and post-adoption relationships. Adoptive parents (along with expectant parents and individuals who are adopted) have the right for their personal information to be protected. For adoptive parents, this includes the right for some information to remain confidential until the person who was adopted reaches the age of majority. In some cases, sharing information from the adoptive parents’ case file is only done at the discretion of the adoptive parents or adoptee. The level of confidentially is usually determined by both parties (see point 6 above on openness) prior to the adoption. Please note that agency policy and state laws may determine how much information an adoptee can access in his/her file.
The key phrase here is:
For adoptive parents, this includes the right for some [confidential] information to remain confidential until the person who was adopted reaches the age of majority.
This brings up a couple of questions:
- Is Gladney saying, with the save-face caveat (or warning?) that disclosure “may” be dependent on state laws–which of course, Gladney can influence in Texas and perhaps in other states?
- While making adoptive parents the domestic gatekeeper, is Gladney saying that it is OK for adoptees (usually) 18 and over to get access to the OBC, court records, and other records
- Is Gladney back-door endorsing the QuadA endorsement of record access?
Then there is this weird statement:
In some cases, sharing information from the adoptive parents’ case file is only done at the discretion of the adoptive parents or adoptee.
“Discretion of adoptee?”
- What is an “adoptive parents case file?”
- Is Gladney actually suggesting that adoptees be given access to their own agency file?
- To whom would this information be shared?
- Is this a vague reference to first family contact?
I don’t have answers to any of these question, and I am sure I am leaving out others. What do you think?
Point 8 of the Adoptive Parents Bill of Rights is murky. Texas adoptee rights advocates need to look at that statement closely, suss it out, and see how it ties to Gladney reaction to HB2725. Can it be taken literally to mean that Mother Gladney will stand down and give us our ticket to ride? Or can only some ride the train? Or is it meant to diffuse and confuse the issue? Or is it a feelgood throw-away published in a relatively obscure newsletter that no one is expected to read and question? Is it word salad?
No matter how desirable, it is hard to believe that the Keeper of Secrets is limply waving the white flag. Will Gladney refute its own list of rights over HB2725? Texas adoptee rights advocates need to hold Gladney’s feet to the fire on this and demand answers. Weaponize!