Edna Gladney’s Name Tarnished
(See www.openadoption.org/gladney for most current information.)

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Companion bills under consideration by the Texas legislature, HB525/SB221, would allow adopted persons to have a copy of their original birth certificate unless a request to deny the release of that birth record to the adoptee until after the death of the birth parent has been filed by that birth parent. The bill grants adult adopted persons rights that are almost equal to those enjoyed by other citizens of Texas. (The exception is the 1% of adult adoptees it is anticipated will encounter birth parents who file a request to deny the release of that birth record, not wanting their name shared with their birth child.) This bill would have been supported by Mrs. Edna Gladney, if she were still alive.

However, the Edna Gladney Adoption Center was the only adoption agency in Texas to sponsor a paid staff person who was the only person to appear and testify against HB525/SB221, not once but twice. This opposition against equal rights for adoptees directly conflicts with the principles and legacy of Edna Gladney who fought many critical legislative battles on behalf of adopted children. In 1931 she had adoption records sealed from the general public so they could only be viewed by parties to the adoption. In 1936 she was responsible for a bill that legally removed the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records.  Then in 1951, she fought so that adopted children would receive the same inheritance rights as biological children and that they should be legally adopted rather than placed in long-term guardianship.

Edna Gladney supported the lifelong needs of vulnerable children growing up adopted to have the same rights and privileges as children born into a family. However, since her death adopted persons have become the only American citizens who may be denied their original birth certificate.  This ultimately may deny them valuable medical history that puts them at risk to be victim to over 4000 diseases that are transmitted by a single defective gene. Few adoptive parents realize that the current outdated adoption record system provides possible lifelong health risks for their adopted children. Adoptees in Texas suffer every year due to lack of accurate medical history caused by their birth records being  unnecessarily sealed from them. While Edna Gladney would have insisted that this travesty be corrected, the agency using her name is fighting that correction.

HB525/SB221 allows birth parents to record their desire regarding future contact with the children they relinquished. Should they also request secrecy from that birth child, this request will be honored. In the states that have enacted similar legislation, no family disruptions, declines in adoptions or other adverse effects have been reported. Not one case can be shown of harm done to birthmothers in any state that has enacted access reform. Edna Gladney, as evidenced by her support of young, unwed mothers-to-be, would have championed HB525/SB221.

Please insist that The Gladney Center reexamine its stance on this critical bill that would have been championed by Edna Gladney. Ask that they also support the policies recommended by the Child Welfare League of America, the largest association of child placement agencies in the word, regarding access by adult adoptees to their own birth records.

Would the Gladney Adoption Center sponsor a public discussion of the issues surrounding HB525/SB221?

Please help HB525/SB221 become law in Texas. Contact your legislator. As of 4-20-07 it appears that the original bills filed are dead and that a substitute for SB221 will be filed only allowing for the full benefits of SB221 for children adopted after January 1, 2008.

This document is online at www.openadoption.org/gladney where hyperlinks are provided to the supporting documentation as well as additional information about the life of Edna Gladney and adoption history. It was last updated 4-20-07 by Bill Betzen, bbetzen@aol.com, with critical input from many adoption triad members and professionals.

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