Hiding The Happy


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:


    Do you think this is wrong?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Lemme make one of my, “I don’t want to speak for this person, but Imma gonna guess because that’s who I am” comments.

      Burt probably feels like it’s necessary for it to be this way, and feels that it’s an important bit of data that most people don’t realize, because their only intersections with the courts are unhappy.

      “Hey, remember they do good stuff, too! They just can’t toot their horn about it!”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I wanna play, too. It’s one of my favorite games…

        I’d say it’s more like Burt is merely observing that most everything that happens in court which is accessible to the public (and himself as a lawyer) is shitty, while the one happy thing is hidden.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          Stillwater is closest to the mark here. I think it’s a shame that adoptions are confidential. As I write below in reply to Patrick, I think there’s all sorts of good reasons they should be public.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I think that adoptions should be public unless the petitioner requests in advance that it not be.

        Yes, I wish that both the public could see that the courts do “happy” things.

        The need for confidentiality in adoptions has long since gone; our society has long ago abolished the stigma formerly associated with children born out of wedlock. Now, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t consider the idea of a child entering a family as a happy and joyful event. There is nothing shameful to either the child or the family about this. If there is a need for discretion, that can be accomodated by special request.

        What’s more, adoption is legally, socially, and publicly significant. The adoptive parents become just that: parents. They have responsibilities to their child and are held out to the world as having those responsibilities. As such, it is an act with public ramifications. If name changes are done in public proceedings (and they are) then a determination of which parents are responsible for which children is a public act as well.

        I think the court should celebrate adoptions. I’d like it if right the front wall right when I came in, there were a bulliten board saying “The Superior Court and its staff congratulate the following new families on their recent adoptions!” with pictures of the smiling parents and happy kids from all of last month’s adoptions. That would be a heartwarming thing to see and a little reminder to the public that good things do happen in courthouses.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I don’t have a problem with adoptions defaulting public, certainly. I didn’t know that most states still default private.

          I really like that last idea, I think it’s neat.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

          What does “public” mean in this case? I had thought the difference between public and private adoption is whether the identity of the birth parents is protected.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I hear ya, Burt. I see it both ways… as a teacher of young children, I’ve had many children who were adopted. Each family approached the topic differently in terms of what they told the child and when. I think discretion is important but ought to be worked out on a case-by-case basis rather than unilaterally required. You are right that we should celebrate the good that the court system does.Report

        • Avatar Miss Mary says:

          They can opt out of the billboard, right? Not everyone wants their business advertised. I would think more things would default to private. Divorce is kind of personal. What about the children (both adoption and dirvorce)? It seems more respectful to not flash their business about.Report