With so much access to information in the modern age through computers and mobile phone technology, it is often quite surprising to see instances where the flow of information is more guarded. Of course, in some scenarios, such as matters of national security, secrecy of details is of paramount importance. In other cases, however, though the details are of a decidedly less sensitive nature, confidentiality is still the norm, thus fueling much debate between more opinionated Americans.
In particular, the level of transparency in adoption records is something that has been contested for several decades now. Currently, the majority of legislatures favor closed adoption records.
In terms of what types of information are sealed within closed adoption records, details about an adoptee and his or her birth parents are typically included. Depending on these distinctions of the nature of the information, as well as who is asking for disclosure, closed adoption records may potentially remain unarguably closed.
For nonidentifying information, adoptive parents in all states may apply to review such data. As for adoptees, they generally can request the same, though usually they must be of a certain minimum age and may have to make their appeal in writing. Identifying information in adoption records, on the other hand, tends to be kept under tighter wraps. A large percentage of states require a court order for both adoptees and adopters to gain access, and this may not be possible without an urgent need for more specific details.
It should be noted birth parents might have a say on the release of identifying information in adoption records. As a matter of fact, some states may have conditions of opening closed adoption records based on the assent/dissent of biological parents prior to adoption. States like Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wisconsin require requesting adult adoptees to have explicit consent from their birth parents for the unsealing of records to proceed. Conversely, states like Delaware, Minnesota and Vermont will allow for the opening of adoption records but will also allow for them to remain closed if their biological parents filed a disclosure veto.
While closed adoption records may be protected by law, with court permission, independent intermediaries may help interested parties in negotiating easier access. Even with verbal consent from birth parents, though, authorities will likely still want to see a written affidavit confirming their willingness to reunite.