Adoption privacyDOES A PERSON adopted as a child have a...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

October 31, 1998

Adoption privacy

DOES A PERSON adopted as a child have a right to records that could lead to the identity of his or her birth parents?

Oregon voters will have the opportunity Tuesday to make the state only the third in the nation with a law recognizing that right.

The issue of opening adoption records generates passionate arguments by both sides. Advocates of open records see the matter as benign, as reuniting family members separated by unusual and very personal circumstances.

Opponents note that some searches by adoptees can be devastating. Countless women are holding their breath, in Oregon and elsewhere, they say, frightened by the thought of being contacted by children they gave up to adoption long ago.

Some states, Maryland among them, permit intermediaries to try to link the parties if all, particularly the birth mother, are willing. Two dozen states allow informational searches solely to determine ethnicity, medical history, religion and profession of parents.

There are real dangers of open-ended open record laws, the most basic being an invasion of the privacy of those who entered into a written agreement with the state for protection forever.

Whatever a woman's reason for putting a child up for adoption, when the choice is made and the state accepts responsibility for the protection of the mother -- and child -- that bond should be secure.

Smoldering embers

IT'S NOT environmentalism, it's terrorism. It's evocative of class warfare, not respect of law. And it will do nothing for the tuft-eared lynx, the supposed beneficiary of recent arson fires set by extremists at a Vail, Colo., ski resort.

If anything, the burning of three buildings and four chairlifts at the nation's busiest ski center may fan a backdraft against those with legal and legitimate agendas to protect the Rocky Mountains and their wildlife.

Earth Liberation Front, a radical eco-terrorist group, claims responsibility for these fires and promises more. Its quarrel is with wealthy residents, luxury home development and "industrial tourism" on the Colorado slopes, as much as with Vail's 900-acre expansion plans.

This escalation of hostilities could strengthen the hand of resort developers in legal battles with environmental groups. The threat of further attacks may galvanize public sympathy for expanded tourism, the area's major employer. Meantime, the resort will quickly rebuild in time for next week's season opening.

The culprits should be dealt with as dangerous arsonists. Rising militancy of environmental terrorists represents a threat to humans, animals and natural habitat, as well as to the rule of law.

Pub Date: 10/31/98

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