Adoption Secrets

“The heart of a mother that abandons her child holds a sea of secrets, hiding in the dark like a vampire ready to jump out and bite you. Some family secrets are generations old and others newly created. Healthy families tend to avoid keeping secrets.” Judith Land

Adoption Detective | Judith Land | Adoption Secrets

Shame is a powerful motive for keeping secrets. Birth mothers that relinquish their children to adoption fear their actions will be discovered and judged. Adoptive parents often fear that if children learn that they are adopted, they will want to find their biological parents and turn away from their adopted ones. As a result, they desire to keep the adoption a secret from their children.

Closed confidential adoption is a process by which an infant is adopted by another family and the record of the biological parents is kept secret. The name of the biological father is often not recorded, even on the original birth certificate. 

Minnesota was the first state to pass an adoption confidentiality and sealed records law to prevent the adoptee and the biological parents from knowing anything about each other to “protect” the adoptive parents from disruption. Infants were placed in state-mandated foster care for several months until the birthparent was certain about relinquishment and the adoption process was completed. Children treated this way often developed psychological problems identified as orphanage-type behavior, often evident even in adopted adults.

The infant from a closed adoption was issued a second birth certificate identifying the adopting parents as the child’s parents. The revised birth certificate became the legal name and identity of the child. If the city of birth and the name of the hospital were omitted from the revised birth certificate, adoptees from closed adoptions were denied passports.

Closed secret adoption has been increasingly criticized as being unfair to both the adoptee and the birth parents. Treating the identities of a child’s parents from a closed adoption as a state secret is a gross violation of human rights according to many adoptees, especially when genetic medical history is important for preventing disease and saving lives. 

Fortunately, there has been an increasing trend in recent years toward open adoption.

Judith Land


About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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