Response to the New York Times Column, "What If I Don't Want to See the Child I Gave Up for Adoption?"
I am writing in response to the January 24 article, “What If I Don’t Want to See the Child I Gave up for Adoption?”
As part of the adoption community, I take exception to several assumptions The Ethicist makes in his response to a woman who was uncomfortable when the adult adoptee (not “child”) wanted to get to know her and the adoptee's biological siblings.
It would not just be an act of generosity on the part of the biological mother to meet her child and answer her valid questions. I see it as an obligation of the biological mother for at least a one-time meeting (which this mother offered) with the adult adoptee who was too young to know the circumstances of her conception and birth. (I am not advocating "forced contact"; however, information, photos, and reasons for relinquishment, the father's name, etc. would be a kind response in the absence of a face-to-face meeting). Biological mothers are not entitled to perpetual anonymity, covenant* or not.
A loving adoptive parent would, of course, want to provide as much known information as to allow the adoptee to form a solid identity, experience genetic mirroring, understand talents and personality traits, in addition to gathering information on ancestry, ethnicity and medical conditions of family members. Knowing more about the genome can never take the place of knowing which blood relatives have diabetes, cancer, auto-immune disorders, mental illness, etc. Just ask the Surgeon General who urges everybody to gather their family medical history. The Ethicist minimizes the importance of the above information when he states an adopted child is just merely “curious”.
Is The Ethicist aware that the vast majority of adoptions today are open? This case illustrates a closed adoption, several decades ago. It is not representative of today’s adoption landscape. States are opening birth certificates, DNA testing companies match genetic relatives for $99.00, social media allows unprecedented connection, and the number of genealogy and reunion shows in the media point to increased awareness that all people (not just adoptees) desire and have a right to know where they come from.
Lynn Grubb, Adoptee and Adoptive Parent
*I did not sign a covenant or agree to be forever separated from knowledge of my biological kin.