Chapter

The right to information in practice: adoption records, confidentiality and secrecy

Gary Clapton

in Private and confidential?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9781861349064
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303077 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861349064.003.0008
The right to information in practice: adoption records, confidentiality and secrecy

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This chapter discusses the policy, practice, and attitudes that can restrict information for adopted people who seek access to adoption agency records. It focuses on the ‘closed’ adoptions of the 1950s–1970s – many of whose subjects are now seeking to trace their origins. The chapter illustrates how confidentiality for an agency and the birth parent(s) becomes a form of secrecy and gatekeeping for the adopted person seeking information. Despite changing attitudes towards adopted adults seeking information, it is argued that there are still ‘powerful beliefs’ that providing information on origins and adoptions may potentially be damaging. The chapter reflects on the ‘feelings of powerlessness’ which can be engendered by the process of adoption and considers the view that the adopted adult remains treated or viewed as a child. This infantilisation of adopted adults is reflected in institutional practices and in the reality that the power to control information about oneself lies elsewhere.

Keywords: adopted people; closed adoptions; information access; adoption agency; birth parents

Chapter.  6476 words. 

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