The AAARA Resolution and Incremental Change

The adoption reform community was stunned and elated to read the January 13, 2018 resolution from the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAARA), formerly known as the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (AAAA), endorsing "an individual’s right to know and access their full personal history, including the identity of their biological parents" and therefore, by extension, direct, unfettered access to:

1. original birth certificates;

2. agency records which relate to them and their biological family; and

3. court records of their adoption.

The Academy has come a long way from its position in 1995, when it endorsed the Uniform Adoption Act (UAA), which was promoted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). The UAA endorsed the release of identifying information between adult parties only by mutual consent, and would have sealed adoption records for 99 years in every state. I remember going with a nervous, mortified, outraged group of birth/first parents and adoptees who were members of Adoptees in Search in 1995 to testify before a Colorado Task Force Committee against the UAA. We had no idea what we were doing, but we knew we had to make our voices heard. Our testimony reportedly made a difference, and Colorado ultimately rejected adoption of the UAA.

Here is a partial description from a 1995 article by law professor Joan Hollinger(1), who drafted much of the act:

"The act’s mutual consent registry is a 'user friendly' approach to the contentious issue of whether and when to disclose identifying information to and about the members of an adoptee’s birth and adoptive families. Birthparents and adoptive parents are free to remain anonymous or to maintain contact with each other. Alternatively, birthparents can indicate at any time their willingness to have their identities disclosed to an adopted child when the adoptee is 18 or older. The registry can easily be tailored to accommodate differing state policies, including the confidential intermediary services that many states now have.20