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Adoption Is not a Reproduction Rights Issue


The opponents of open records on both the Right and the Left have tried to connect open records for adopted adults to issues of abortion and reproductive rights. This is a mistake and misuse of words, as all issues of reproductive rights cease once a living child, a separate individual with citizenship and rights of his own, is born. Adoption IS NOT a reproductive rights issue, nor is family preservation, any more than child abuse, breastfeeding, day care, or decent schools are, although all these issues are important and relate to children.

Once an adoption takes place, the reproductive part is done, the child is born and a separate person. There is no longer one person, the mother, and one legal non-person, the fetus, but two individuals with their own rights that have nothing to do with reproduction. I think we need to keep stressing this, to try to make it clear that however one feels about reproductive rights or abortion, it has nothing to do with adoption issues or with open records. Reproductive rights issues are birth control and access to it, abortion, and perhaps infertility treatments and assisted reproduction. Once a child is born, no matter what happens next, the "reproductive" part no longer applies because that is done, ended for everyone with the birth of one who is now a separate human being, not an object or less than a person.

Mothers do not have unlimited "choice" concerning what they do with their children once they are born, nor do they have rights that supersede those of that child when he or she becomes an adult. "Reproductive rights" do not last forever; they end when the reproduction part of the process ends after nine months with a live birth. And men have never had a "reproductive right" to anonymity, as witness the paternity suits filed every day! A particularly virulent outgrowth of the idea that a mother's supposed reproductive rights last forever and always trump the rights of the child are the awful baby dump "Safe Haven" laws that are springing up everywhere like weeds. Generally, where the law must step into family matters at all, it is assumed that protection of the minor child is more important than the rights of negligent or abusive adults. And all laws pertaining to minors but sealed records adoption laws end when the person becomes a legal adult.

There are only two choices, not three, that a pregnant woman makes that fall under the category of reproductive rights; the choice to abort, or to carry the child to term. The choice to surrender a child for adoption, which can only be made a legally binding choice once the child is born and a surrender document is signed, is NOT the third reproductive rights choice, nor is the opposite, the choice to raise the child and the right to assistance to do this. These important decisions that a mother makes once her child is born are in no way connected to the superior rights she had under the law while the child was still a fetus. No mother has life or death power over her child once it is born, nor does she have any right to permanent anonymity from that child under some misguided notion that this is a "reproductive right" that goes on forever. No one has a "right" to adopt, that is a privilege granted by the state for the good of the child, not to fill the needs of the adoptive parents, Nobody has a right to surrender a child and be given any promise of perpetual anonymity from that child either. Nobody has a right to raise a child if they are proven dangerous and unfit. And once again, none of these things should be viewed under the category of reproductive rights, although often they are.

In my view, both the extreme pro-choice and extreme pro-life groups are fundamentally dishonest, neither will look at any grey area, and both try to suppress anyone's experience that does not reinforce their preconceived notions.

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