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In adoption, the practice of preserving privacy or anonymity and refraining from providing information on the identities of birthparents and adoptive parents, either to each other or to the adopted children or adult adopted persons.

An adoption agency social worker, attorney or other intermediary is aware of the identities of all concerned and retains this information in confidence. Original birth certificates become SEALED RECORDS upon finalization of the adoption, and a new amended birth certificate is issued with the names of the adopting parents as parents.

Confidentiality in adoptions has been the standard in the United States since infant adoptions became widespread in the 1930s. A particular focus on confidentiality arose during and after World War II, according to historian E. Wayne Carp.

Today confidentiality is under attack by a variety of groups and individuals who seek to open all records and insist OPEN ADOPTION is in the best interests of all concerned. They are greatly opposed to confidentiality in adoptions. (See CONCERNED UNITED BIRTHPARENTS INC.)

Critics of confidentiality believe "secrecy" in adoption is wrong and also argue that, should the adopted person need to contact his birthparents for whatever reason, no SEARCH would be necessary-the adopted person would know who his birthparents are and probably could learn exactly where they are. These critics believe it is wrong to deprive a birthparent or an adopted child of identifying information.

Advocates of continued confidentiality assert that all parties in an adoption, including the adopted person, birthparents and adoptive parents, are protected by confidentiality. They believe these groups could be negatively affected if identities were revealed. They also insist that some birthparents might choose ABORTION over adoption if confidentiality and privacy were banned in all cases.

In addition, advocates state that the child benefits when only NONIDENTIFYING INFORMATION is provided and the child can be raised by parents who are allowed a stronger sense of ENTITLEMENT.

Organizations such as the NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION believe the best solution to the debate over confidentiality is for states to pass laws such as the UNIFORM ADOPTION ACT, that would feature MUTUAL CONSENT REGISTRIES. Registries will provide identifying information to adopted persons, siblings or birthparents if the parties involved have registered their interest in such information. Some states also require the approval of adoptive parents as well, regardless of the age of the adopted person.

Information is generally not provided unless the adopted adult is at least 18, and some states have a higher age limit (usually 21 years). (See also TRADITIONAL ADOPTION.)

Find more information on confidentiality

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