Secret Origins

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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19 Responses

  1. Doctor Jay says:

    Both MrsJay and I are adopted. I do not support the “open adoption” laws. I’m perhaps a bit less concerned with abortion than you are. But I think we need to let people close that door and keep it closed.

    I have never searched for my biological parents, but my wife has. She found her biological mother, and reconnected with a big family that way. Her bio mother was very open to this as were many others in her family. Her search for her father was unsuccessful, due in part to him having a very common name. She turned up one good possibility, but he said, “No, that’s not me.” Who knows? Maybe that’s true, or maybe he had just turned that page, and didn’t feel he could explain this to anyone else.

    Nevertheless, I feel that was his choice to make. For someone who wants to make another choice, there are plenty of avenues available.

    And yes, Will, I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that biology doesn’t mean a lot. Families are made by decisions, not by biology.Report

  2. Damon says:

    I’m ambivalent on open or closed adoptions. I can see a process where the people giving up the child choose one or the other. The heartburn I have is a retroactive change. Assuming I and my partner gave up a child, we have essentially a contract. The state should not be able to go back and change that. Sure, change it going forward, but not back.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Damon says:

      Oh, I’m fine with open adoption as a choice people might make, and I agree that the state should not change this retroactively.Report

  3. Kimmi says:

    I think… that so long as people are willing to be mutual about it, that a closed adoption should be something that MultiplePeople can Consent To Open.

    Say, Mom left Abusive Boyfriend/Husband, who impregnated her against her will. Good reason for adoption, no? (In that keeping the child is likely to give some enforced parental rights to the dad, assuming he’s not a total idiot). Well, if abusive boyfriend/husband winds up in prison, well, then there’s nothing stopping opening the abortion.

    We should ALSO have an option for the mom/dad to submit a “Here’s my medical history. Buh-bye” form. It gives kids some help (possibly including DNA samples), but doesn’t necessitate a potentially messy reunion.

    Adoptions were closed often because babies out of wedlock were very very stigmatized, and being able to pretend that you never got pregnant meant that you were “mostly pure.” As that decreases, well, it’s less of an issue. It’s also less of an issue because a woman doesn’t need a man to survive, and so she can choose to keep the baby and not the hubby.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Kimmi says:

      The medical history thing is my only sticking point. While genetic testing might someday make it obsolete, I do see real value in a properly scrubbed, clinical medical/historical record (ppssibly supplemented, as Kimmi notes, with an anonymous DNA sample).

      It does give a truly motivated person more to work with to track the parents back down, but I know that I’d want to know that, say, the nerve condition I’m developing on my left side is not just a thing but will have to be monitored, since it’s hereditary and progressive (but the early signs are easy to miss).Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to El Muneco says:

        I’m not sure that there’s such a thing as an anonymous medical history.Report

        • Kimmi in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          Doctor Jay,
          Are you sure? Because there’s anonymous submission of DNA for testing…
          It is quite easy to scrub data of PHI.
          I have given anonymous medical histories to quite a few researchers. (generally targeted because Research).Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Kimmi says:

            Let me unpack what I’m talking about. It takes far less information to uniquely identify someone than you might think. And in this day and age of data mining, it is possible to leverage this fact to identify someone.

            As an example, it is possible to pinpoint the exact location of someone who is driving in their car by reading only the accelerometer data over the course of the first 2 or 3 turns. Map data is that unique.

            I think medical histories are probably that unique, too. One of these, plus one of those two, probably narrows you down to a pool of just maybe a hundred people in the world, only one of which lived in the right place at the right time.

            Anonymity is hard.Report

            • Kimmi in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              Doctor Jay,
              This is not the legal picture.
              Can you cite sources on that accelerometer data? I am curious.

              Are you perhaps supposing that we’d be giving dates and times, or something? This is probably going to be a checkbox form on “has had XYZ” the way you fill out in doctor’s office, plus a bit extra for “your parents are weird and special cased”

              Dates and times are easy to scrub. you can get referential “got gestational diabetes, got real diabetes 10 years later” differential dates.Report

              • Doctor Jay in reply to Kimmi says:

                My source on the accelerometer data is a friend who works for Google in the privacy/anonymity field. I realize this is not especially satisfactory as evidence. But I think what’s under dispute is the number, not the principle.Report

              • Kimmi in reply to Doctor Jay says:

                Doctor Jay,
                It’s good enough.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Kimmi says:

                “Can you cite sources on that accelerometer data?”

                It’s called an INS and it’s not all that secret. People have been using them as navigational instruments for decades.

                And as Doctor Jay points out, you can convert a road map into a mesh of nodes (intersections) with elements (street lengths) connecting them, and a sufficiently powerful computer can take a sequence of travelled street lengths and find it in that mesh. (Indeed, “look for this sequence in a database” is basically what Google does.) I’m sure that you could do some fancy math-major stuff and turn the mesh into a matrix and then do fun things with the matrix–like, maybe Waze works out the best route by doing matrix mathematics on the road grid?Report

  4. North says:

    I generally agree Will. The Mothers choice is paramount in my point of view and there is an implicit promise in the form of a closed adoption that the roles will not be retroactively changed. Though I am not one myself I would think that pro-lifers should be extremely opposed to this kind of thing. Anything that makes adoption harder or more fraught is invariably going to heighten the appeal of non-adoption alternatives and with adoption coming bundled in with nine months of stress, pain, discomfort, medical risk, hormonal haywires and professional difficulties it already has a steep hill to climb.Report

    • Will H. in reply to North says:

      I agree with this. I, too, largely agree with Will T., but I would advocate for gobs of money for the mother carrying to term, provided the funds do not create a reverse incentive. I believe we have an obligation to help the weakest among us, but toward the end of gathering strength rather than remaining in weakness. That said, I’m not convinced that government is the appropriate vehicle for providing such assistance.Report

  5. CJColucci says:

    Since the medical information issue seems to be a sticking point, how about a system where the relevant agency, but not the parties, know who is who and when adopted kid needs medical information the agency gets it from biological parent and gives it to the adopted kid’s doctor? As far as the parent and kid are concerned, everything goes into or comes out of a black box.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to CJColucci says:

      Alas, now you’ve just made government bigger and worse, done so in the social services sector, so you’ve made your proposal obnoxious to conservatives.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Indeed, so let them come up with some small-government way to solve the problem. Unless not solving the problem is the real point and yelling “big government” is the cover — as it so often is.Report