Adoptee Rights Advocacy Groups

This is intended to be a short list, not a comprehensive list of all groups advocating for adoptee rights in the United States. I strongly recommend bookmarking Bastard Nation and Adoptee Rights Law Center, if you seek to follow updates on efforts to reform adoption laws in states that deny equal rights to all adopted persons.

Bastard Nation:
Bastard Nation is the preeminent adoptee-led and mission-focused adoptee rights advocacy group in the United States since the 1990s—the one that refuses to compromise on the premise of restoring full legal rights to all U.S. adoptees. The group has been instrumental in the last two decades in helping to pass legislation in Oregon, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire that restored adult adoptees’ full legal access to their original birth certificates and birth records. The group provides an unequivocal mission statement concerning adoptees’ human and civil rights for access to their original birth records, and it is committed to working with partners nationally who share its mission. For those interested in “inside ball,” Bastard Nation tracks all state-level legislation on its website. 

Adoptee Rights Law Center:
The Adoptee Rights Law Center is run by Gregory D. Luce a Minnesota-based attorney and adoptee rights legal activist. His resource called the “United States of OBC” (OBC being an acronym for original birth certificates) shows how each state and the District of Columbia limit or allow OBC access: unrestricted, restricted, conditional, extreme fees, adoption registry requirement, date-based restrictions, redaction provisions, disclosure veto/birth parent consent, zombie veto (a veto that extends beyond a birth parent’s death), and pending or not in effect. His web site lists laws by each state, and his blog provides informed commentary on laws that deny adoptees equal rights.

The American Adoption Congress:
The AAC started during the heyday of the Adoption Rights Movement (ARM) in the 1970s. It does not share Bastard Nation’s commitment to a legal standard in all states that treats all adoptees equally under the law—a standard found in most developed nations such as England, France, and Australia. The AAC had, until the beginning of June 2017, openly claimed it would support so-called “compromise legislation” in collaboration with state adoptee advocates that would deny some adoptees equal rights by law. Its annual conference is popular with therapists, counselors, and those in the mental health profession—many who still seek to “treat” adoptees rather than promote political change and human rights on their behalf. The AAC continues to publish a summary of state laws on its legislation page that can be useful.

The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI)
The DAI, formerly called the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, is frequently quoted by the media, but it has a mixed adoptee rights agenda. The DAI provides tools like a map highlighting the status of adoption laws state by state. The group mostly does not focus on state legislative battles. See the group’s most recent spring 2017 newsletter to understand its priorities and issues. They also publish white papers from so-called “adoption professionals” (a loosely defined term that has no credentials) that can be useful for some researchers. The DAI does not acknowledge by name the work and mission of Bastard Nation, the nation’s foremost adoptee rights group. Adoptee rights advocates who promote adoptee rights as human rights, like me and groups like Bastard Nation, remain critical because of the DAI’s history of promoting legislative compromise and because of its ongoing ties to the “adoption industry.”