By Tami Fitzgerald
Christian Action League
Two weeks ago the Christian Action League reported that the Confidential Intermediary process that allows people who are adopted to find their biological parents, even if those adoptions were “closed,” might be expanded by a bill before the General Assembly HB 1463—Expand Access/Confidential Intermediaries. The bill would open up the process to siblings and half siblings of adult adoptees and to family members (defined as a spouse, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, grandparent, or grandchild) of deceased biological parents and deceased adoptees, even if the deceased biological parent or the deceased adoptee did not consent to having his/her identifying information released.
The 2007 Confidential Intermediary law allows adoption agencies and local departments of social services to act as “confidential intermediaries” between adult adoptees and biological parents of adoptees, but only after receiving the written consent of the parties involved. Adoption agencies such as Children’s Home Society of North Carolina have sought to expand the process ever since, allowing adoptees and siblings to “go around” the birth parent’s wishes to keep the adoption confidential once the birth parent dies. These agencies charge between $500 and $600 to act as a Confidential Intermediary that searches for the missing parties, and expansion of those who have access to the Confidential Intermediary process would increase their revenues.
Despite a statute that allows adoptees to go through a court proceeding to open their adoption records, the bill sponsor, Rep. Margaret Dickson (D-Cumberland), and the adoption agencies argue that for adoptees whose biological parents are deceased, there is no place to go to obtain identifying information for medical records or location of siblings. They argue that requiring a searching party to file a court proceeding is too costly and cumbersome.
The bill has been before the Senate Judiciary II Committee for almost two months, and a subcommittee appointed to work on the objections to the bill has been unable to reach a compromise. Senators Jim Jacumin (R-Burke), Tom Apodaca (R-Buncombe), and Doug Berger (D-Franklin) have expressed concern about violating the birth mother’s right to privacy and her expectation of confidentiality, even though it might occur after her death. Sen. Jim Jacumin (D-Burke) has been the primary defender of a birth parent’s right to choose to birth the unborn child and place it for adoption confidentially, so she will not be forced into aborting the child to maintain confidentiality.
It would be a shame for the confidentiality of birth parents to be compromised by the State. Many of the adoptions that would be impacted by HB 1463 took place 10, 20, or more years ago, when most adoptions were closed and there was an expectation of confidentiality indefinitely. The intervening death of the birth parent, while unfortunate, should not be allowed to act as the reason for overriding her wishes to keep the adoption confidential.
Your response to the Christian Action League’s request to make calls to members of the subcommittee made a difference! Your efforts to protect the unborn, so that birthparents can continue to make a purely confidential choice for adoption over abortion are greatly appreciated. The Christian Action League will keep you posted if the bill comes back up this session, but for now it appears the bill will not make it out of committee.