Children's Interests and Information Disclosure: Who Provided the Egg and Sperm? Or Mommy, Where ( and Whom) Do I Come from?
28 Pages Posted: 24 May 2001
This essay focuses on the relationships between children, unknown donors, and biological parents. It argues that children deserve access to information about their biological pasts both when the donor's identity is known to the biological parent and when it is unknown. Once an adoption has been finalized or once known gamete donors have agreed not to assert parental rights, the donors should be unable to assert parental rights. But the finality of adoption or gamete provision (which includes eggs, sperm, or embryos) should not prevent the disclosure of information about the identity of biological parents and gamete providers to a mature child. The disclosure of this information is not equivalent to recognizing parental rights and responsibilities for the biological parents or gamete providers. Nor is disclosure solely for genetically based reasons. Rather, disclosure recognizes the potential relationship between the child and her biological forebears. The argument for disclosure, while it may implicate constitutional interests, is ultimately based on public policy considerations. Adoption and gamete provision are regulated by state and federal law, so the decisions on whether to allow disclosure is largely left to the legislative, or referenda process. In the adoption area, legislatures have chosen whether to seal birth certificates and related adoption records based on a balancing of the different interests involved. In the gamete provision area, the few legislatures that have acted, have similarly attempted to balance the different interests involved. My argument is that the balancing of the affected interests should result in making birth certificates and other biological information readily available because the "child's" interest becomes paramount when she becomes an adult. Although the article is primarily concerned with disclosure issues in lesbian and gay families, the arguments are applicable to all families formed through adoption or gamete provision.
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