‘State government would break a promise and abortion could be more appealing for some’
Christian Action League
“The bill would end closed adoptions in North Carolina as we know it. Its not legislation that’s been high on the radar of most, but its significance is great. If House Bill 1463 ever passes in its current form, State government would break a promise and abortion could be more appealing for some.” That’s what Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said about HB 1463 – Expand Access/Confidential Intermediaries – legislation that would allow siblings and half siblings of adult adoptees and other family members of deceased biological parents and deceased adoptees, to have their identifying information released – even if the deceased biological parent or deceased adoptee never consented.
Currently, North Carolina law allows persons who were adopted to seek out their biological parents, even if their adoption was “closed.” The law, which was proposed by Rep. Margaret Dickson (D-Cumberland) and passed in 2007, allows adoption agencies and local departments of social services to act as “confidential intermediaries” between adult adoptees and their biological parents, but only after written consent has been received from both parties.
Dickson now believes the process should be expanded even further to allow siblings and other family members to trump a birth parent’s desire to keep an adoption confidential, whenever the parent has died. Also pushing for this change in the law are adoption agencies such as the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina. Such agencies can receive payment for serving as a “confidential intermediary” that searches for the missing parties.
Proponents of expanding the intermediary process argue that if an adoptee whose biological parents are deceased wishes to open their adoption records to obtain critical medical information or the location of siblings, they must go through an expensive and cumbersome court process. “But that’s the point of having such a stringent law,” said Rev. Creech. “Confidentiality in the adoption process should be considered a sacred trust that must be adhered to even after death. It should only be breached when a court determines the circumstances are so critical that the person seeking the information must be provided with it. To do otherwise could be too costly to the peace of some families. We must assume that, with many, there are very important reasons why the deceased didn’t want anyone to know about the adoption.”
Rev. Creech also noted that expanding this law could deter certain women from opting for adoption and choosing abortion if they couldn’t be certain anyone – including family members – would ever know about the adoption. “We have to find more ways to discourage abortion in our day. An unintended consequence of this measure, I fear, would only be to make the adoption process less appealing for certain women,” he said.
HB 1463 passed the House on June 6 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary II Committee the next day and remained in that Committee for two months. A subcommittee was appointed to work on objections to the legislation, but subcommittee members were never able to work out a compromise. The Christian Action League reported last week that the legislation would likely fade away.
Nevertheless, the bill caught a second wind this week (Thursday) when the Committee decided to take up the measure and after some debate passed it by a vote of 6 – 5, sending it to the Senate floor. After being calendared for consideration on the Senate floor the same day, the prospect of a floor vote was met by Senate members with considerable uncertainty, ambivalence or outright hostility. This prompted Senate Judiciary II Chairman Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, to move the bill be removed from the Calendar and re-calendared for May 19, 2010, which is when the North Carolina General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene for the legislative biennium’s short session.