Traditionally, confidentiality in your adoption was crucial as an unplanned pregnancy was considered taboo or even a sin. Adoptions were kept secret and filled with shame. We have come a long way since then. Unplanned pregnancies happen and there is no shame in that. Adoption is a loving and brave choice. The adoption attorneys at Moore Law for Children do not judge you for considering adoption; we honor and respect you. Our team includes a birth mother, an adoptee, and adoptive mother. Our experienced adoption attorneys care about adoptions, confidentiality in your adoptions, and we care about you.
Confidentiality is an Important Right:
Moore Law for Children also understands that even though adoptions are no longer associated with stigma, confidentiality may still be very important. Your culture or religion may not be tolerant of unplanned pregnancies or adoption. You may fear violence by the birth father or be afraid of losing your job. Additionally, you might be scared your family or friends will not support your decision and try to influence you. Whatever your reason, you have the right to confidentiality in your adoption.
Anonymous Confidential Adoptions:
Decades ago, adopting families and birth mothers would not be identified to one another. The records were sealed and adopted children would have to petition the courts to unseal their records. In California today, there is no such thing as a completely closed private adoption. The law requires the birth mother and adopting parents to share names and addresses. If you are not comfortable with that, we can help you find an adoptive family in another state where it’s closed.
Open versus closed adoptions:
A closed adoption in California means there will be no contact between you and the adopting family after the placement of the baby. An open adoption in California means there will be some form of contact going forward. This may be annual written updates, photos, calls, or visits. This is something you agree to with the adopting family. It may be an informal verbal agreement or formalized in writing and filed with the adoption court. Our adoption attorneys will help you select an adopting family that will respect and share your wishes.
Confidential to Third Parties:
Other than the adoption professionals who work with you and who are bound to confidentiality, such as the lawyers, the adoption social worker, your medical doctor, and any therapist you see, no one else has a right to know about your adoption plan. An adoption plan is confidential and not to be shared with third parties. Adoption hearings and court records are confidential; the public is not allowed access. Your family, friends, and employers do not need to know. The birth father must be noticed by law of the adoption plan with some limited exceptions. However, his family has no right to notice. The adoption lawyers at Moore Law for Children can advise you on birth father rights and how that would affect you in your adoption plan.
We encourage you to find someone in your life that you can confide in to be there for you, but that is your choice. Our team will be a source of support for you. We can also help find you a therapist, birth mother support group, and additional birth mother resources to provide needed support.
Future Contact by the Child:
In the past, all adoption court records were sealed and could only be shared with the adopted child for specific reasons, such as a medical need. Now, in California, at the time of the adoption, you may sign a form that indicates you agree to your child having access to the adoption records including your name and address at the time of the adoption when they reach eighteen years of age if they choose. You may also choose not to sign that form, meaning the only way the records could be unsealed would be for specific legal purposes such as a medical need.
In today’s age of DNA testing, the right to privacy has diminished and people are finding a family with simple and inexpensive mail-in DNA tests such as “23 and Me” or “Ancestry.com”. There is no way to guarantee that your child could not find you in the future directly if your DNA is in the system or indirectly if someone in your family has submitted their DNA.
Personal and Private Choice:
Your pregnancy, your decision to make an adoption plan, or any other plan is your choice. We respect your privacy and right to confidentiality. At Moore Law for Children, we support your right to choose the level of confidentiality you want.
If one parent wants confidentiality and the other does not, each of your choices may legally be honored. The level of openness is something you should discuss before the baby is born. This allows the birth parents and the adopting family to be on the same page. It does not mean you can’t change your mind when the baby arrives. Open discussion early in the plan is the best way to avoid surprises and conflict.
In the case of dependency court adoptions, the birth mother may or may not be informed on who adopts the child depending on the circumstances.