Sadly, adult adoptees in America must confront the reality that, in most states, their right to access their original birth and adoption records is a very narrow right statutorily granted only to those who can show good cause. Part II of this paper will explore the reasons why adult adoptees search for information regarding their biological origins and the history of adult adoptees' access to original birth and adoption records. Part III will give a brief overview of the concept of constitutional privacy and discuss the several categories of privacy currently recognized in American law and the relationship between privacy and open access statutes. Part IV will assert that birth parent privacy interests are an insufficient basis for blocking adult adoptee access to original birth and adoption records. Part V explores some recent judicial and legislative approaches supporting and expanding upon the arguments made in Part IV. Finally, Part VI will briefly discuss one state's mitigation of the possible negative effects of open access systems and suggest that these measures might be a fair way to balance the interests of birth parents and adult adoptees. In the end, it is quite clear that legislatures and courts should not rely on birth parent privacy assertions in their examination of the validity of open access statutes. Instead, these governmental bodies should espouse open access statutes as a means to a more equal and healthy society.
Note, Only Americans Legally Prohibited from Knowing Who Their Birth Parents Are: A Rejection of Privacy Rights as a Bar to Adult Adoptees' Access to Original Birth and Adoption Records, 55 Clev. St. L. Rev. 429 (2007)