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Who Are We?

F.R.E.E is an organization made up of many people, all of whom are interested in the same thing. That is securing access by adult adoptees to their own original birth certificates in the State of Florida.  But who are these many people? Are they all adoptees? Are they an unhappy minority of those affected by adoption? Many discussions of adoption address the issue as it concerns minors who are adoptees, but the membership of F.R.E.E. consists of adults including adult adoptees.

First we should list some broad categories of people involved. Our first category is that of people who are commonly called “Triad Members” and who are most directly affected by the adoption process. The Adoption Triad is made up of three subgroups of people. The first group is adoptees, who are people that were relinquished as children by their birth parents and placed up for adoption. The second subgroup is made up of adoptive families, and  are the adoptive parents, adoptive siblings and extended adoptive families. The third side of this adoption triangle is made up of the birth families which relinquished a child and includes birth parents, birth siblings, biological grandparents and even the extended birth family of the adoptee. The adoption Triad is made of people who are either adopted or related to an adoptee through either birth or adoption.

Also active in this issue of adoptee rights are people who are less directly affected by adoption, but who deal with adoptees and adoptee issues. This includes physicians, counselors, social workers, ministers, adoption agency employees, attorneys, judges and lawmakers. All of these people deal with adoptees and issues of adoptee rights, health and well being regularly as a part of their professions.

Another group of people active in dealing with these issues are those who are neither directly affected by adoption nor deal with adoption issues in their professions. At times they are friends or acquaintances of Triad members. Some people are just involved simply because they have a personal interest in equal rights and ethical treatment for all. This category includes human rights activists and many others who join with adoptees in seeking equitable treatment under law.

Though the movement for adult access to original birth certificates is occasionally characterized as representing a small minority of Triad members the actual published studies and surveys would disagree with this. In order to better understand just how many people actually desire adult adoptee access to original birth certificates we should look at some of the studies that have been done and published concerning this issue. All of these studies may be found on a United States Government information web site by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, a branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/index.html

*A survey conducted in the late 1980s estimated that 500,000 adult adoptees were either seeking or had found their birth families. (Groza and Rosenberg, 1998)

* In a study of American adolescents the Search Institute found that 72 percent of adolescent adoptees wanted to know why they were placed for adoption, 65 percent wanted to meet their birth parents and 94 percent wanted to know which birth parent they looked like. (American Adoption Congress, 1996) The adolescents surveyed in the mid 1990s are now voting adults.

*Sachdev’s 1991 study found that 85.5 percent of birth mothers and 81.1 percent of adoptees supported access by adult adoptees to identifying information about their own birth parents. (CWLA,1998) 

*Avery’s 1996 research on the attitudes of adoptive parents found that 84 percent of adoptive mothers and 73 percent of adoptive fathers either agreed or strongly agreed that an adult adoptee should be allowed to access identifying information about his or her birth parents. (CWLA, 1998 )

What these studies show is that a consistent and overwhelming majority of adoption triad members approve of adult adoptee access to their own original birth certificates. The studies also show that not only is this a majority of Triad members in total, but a majority of each of the three categories of Triad members, adult adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents. It is this majority of Adoption Triad members that wish to see adult adoptee access to original birth certificates that is represented by the activities of F.R.E.E and similar organizations active across our Nation.