Title

Identity and Personhood: Advocating for the Abolishment of Closed Adoption Records Laws Note

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Adoptees are denied access to identifying information about their biological heritage in myriad ways. Accessing adoption records, however, is critical to the deeply personal identity formation processes of many adopted persons. This Note urges the abolishment ofclosed adoption records laws by addressing social science and constitutional arguments in support of unfettered access to adoptees who wish to obtain identifying information about their natural origins. This Note highlights the identity struggles faced by many adoptees who lack access to this information, and suggests an expanded understanding of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to include the right ofdecisional autonomy in the context of identity development as a liberty interest. This Note also argues that adolescent adoptees should be permitted to obtain access to their adoption records through a parental and/or judicial approval procedure, and briefly considers children's role within the constitutional penumbras encompassing familial and other privacy rights. Adoptees have distinct liberty and privacy interests in identity, personhood, and decisional autonomy, and evidence strongly suggests that many adolescent and adult adoptees could benefit profoundly from complete access to their adoption records.

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