Should biological parents be able to contact the child they gave away in the case of a closed adoption?A young mother made the difficult decision to give her baby up for adoption thirty years ago,...

Should biological parents be able to contact the child they gave away in the case of a closed adoption?

A young mother made the difficult decision to give her baby up for adoption thirty years ago, She was never allowed to hold her child and only briefly saw her daughter through a window as the baby was held up by a nurse to the glass. The mother always regretted her decision and has tried for years to get to know her child. But, in Georgia, as in many states, adoptions are closed and once a mother gives up her rights, she has no access, official or otherwise, to her child. We hear a lot about children trying to find their birth parents and the rights they should be afforded, but should parents have similar opportunities to reverse, or at least modify, a decision many made at a very young age?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me that some of the difficulty lies with our current sentiment about adoption. I wonder if e-martin might agree or otherwise? In other eras, adoption was a thing of joy and pride for the adopted person and the adopting parent (and often relief and comfort for the biological parents). I'm not a Classical Literature scholar so can't say definitively (if wordprof or thanatassa chime in, they could say) but the impression I have from Homer and Biblical literature is that adoption was celebrated because of the willful choice made. By choice and selection, the name, the lineage and the full inheritance (whatever that may or may not have consisted of) would be given to and continued in the adopted person.

In this scenario--whether it was the exception or the rule--an encounter with the biological parents didn't hold any of the contemporary dread: would you/won't you; why did you/do you/don't you; who will you love love/who won't you? So my first thought is always: we need to revitalize the contemporary adoptive sentiment and social evaluation so these questions won't carry the power they now have.

On a practical, immediate level, in our present socio-cultural environment, biological parents pose an emotional and psychological threat to both adopted person and adopting parents. It seems the first duty of biological parents is to recognize this and act to protect their estranged child and respect their right to peace and contentment, especially in states with laws imposing separation (as e-martin says, there are agencies that can help in searches). A biological parent's duties, it seems to me, remain the same whether present or separate: the well-being of the offspring is paramount and comes before all personal desires or needs (I expect that will be seen as a controversial statement in itself).

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an adopted person, my story goes like this: I told the mother who adopted me, my "mom", that I was ready to meet my biological mother. My mom then contacted the adoption agency that had arranged my adoption. My biological mother then had a choice as to whether or not she would like to meet me. 

Having the agency as an intermediary was critical, I think, to providing myself and my birth mother a chance to consider the situation without having to answer directly to one another. 

Were the case different and had my biological mother contacted me or my parents directly, I don't know how well things would have gone. I know that I was not ready until, well, until I was ready. Before that, regardless of my birth mother's feelings, I would have been unequipped to handle the question, "Would you like to meet me?" coming from my biological mother. 

Keeping the possibility of a meeting open via an intemediary agency feels fair to me. Giving either side direct access to the other seems less safe; less fair. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with Post #2's stance about having the adoption agency act as an intermediary, but can also respect the adopting parents' wishes to maintain a degree of separation between themselves, their child, and the birth mother.  Ultimately, I feel that the birth mother should respect the original terms of the adoption; both sides sign legally binding documents, and even though the birth mother may come to regret her decision later, she should stand by her word that was originally given in good faith to respect the adopting parents' privacy. 

Ultimately, the choice to meet the birth mother should be given to the adopting parents, especially if the child was still very young.  He or she may not even know or understand the original terms of the adoption, so it could be extremely damaging for the birth mother suddenly to make an appearance in their life or show up on their doorstep. 



litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it very much depends on the families whether biological parents should stay in contact with their offspring.  Some families really make it work.  Children often wonder.  I do think they should know about their parents.  It seems like many adopted kids have a hole in their lives until they know.