Confidentiality

 

WE WERE NEVER PROMISED CONFIDENTIALITY

The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' survey of membership, Canada-wide, has not produced one mother who was promised confidentiality on the surrender of her son or daughter to adoption nor one who ever requested confidentiality. Mothers who have received the documents they signed at the time of surrender have found no reference to confidentiality.

Canadian Council of Natural Mothers

If the mother's confidentiality or privacy were of importance, why did/do the following situations exist?

§ There were no legal documents signed by natural parents that convey confidentiality.

§ There were no legal documents signed by natural parents that offered the choice of being known to their child or anonymity, confidentiality or privacy. Most were routinely denied knowledge of, access to and contact with their son or daughter.

§ Any talk of confidentiality was focused on the names and location of those adopting our children.

§ Often our children or their adoptive parents had information about us. In fact many persons adopted report that their adoptive parents had the names of their natural mother from the time of adoption.

§ Many post adoption registries give persons adopted their birth names upon request. In the majority of cases the surname is the mother's or linked to her history. We welcome this step but question how, knowing this, legislators can claim our confidentiality as reason to keep records closed or mediated.

§ Persons who were surrendered but not adopted immediately or not at all because of challenges or difficulties did not lose their birth surname unless they were adopted. Their original birth certificate was not sealed either.

§ A past practice in some provinces that adversely affected many pregnant girls and women who stayed in maternity homes was the requirement that they name the father of their baby. The father was then contacted for reimbursement, after proof of paternity, of costs incurred by the surrendering mother. Many mothers were afraid of their baby's father because of rape, incest, abandonment, threats, abuse and/or violence. This practice not only disregarded their privacy or any confidentiality but also put them at risk. Many times the reasons for surrender were linked to a crisis situation that the mother needed help in alleviating, not exacerbating.

§Mothers who wanted to and did provide the names of their child's father often find upon reunion that the father is not listed on documents available. These mothers' information and choices were disregarded in omitting this information.

The "myth of confidentiality" has been used as a means to deny natural parents, relatives, and their now-adult sons and daughters surrendered to adoption open access to identifying information about each other. This myth creates a negative stereotype of these now mature mothers as perpetual adolescents, vulnerable and powerless, with supposed incompetence to manage their personal affairs in adult relationships with their now-adult sons and daughters. Yet these same stereotyped mothers, as adolescents, were considered competent "adults" at the time of surrender with the ability to comprehend the lifelong ramifications of separation through adoption for themselves and their babies.

This "confidentiality" is thus a part of the continuing punishment and price paid by natural mothers. It is not a reward for losing their babies.

February, 2003

© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, February 2003. This document is the property of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, www.ccnm-mothers.ca. You may copy and distribute this page provided that you copy it in its entirety.