Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | April 19, 2016

The case for unsealing closed adoption records

The decision to seek out biological parents or children can be tense, difficult and at times impossible.

How a person goes about finding and reconnecting with their biological family depends on who they are, where they live and how willing the family on the other side of the adoption is to being found.

In the past, most states kept adoption records closed for both the biological parents and adopted children, but a push for transparency over the past three decades has led to changes in law from state-to-state, according to Gloria Hochman of the National Adoption Center in Washington, D.C.

You can read more about that here.

Ellen Hauck LeClaire is a lifelong friend of mine. We grew up together in a small town. She is adopted. Her birth name is Bertha Ellen Thomas. Born in Syracuse NY on October 4, 1957, she was in foster care for her first three years. She knows that her natural mom was 34 and natural dad was 51 and she has seven older siblings. But that is all she knows.

She will be the first to tell you that she loves her family and that her childhood was wonderful. I can personally attest to that. Her parents fostered many children including Ellen, choosing to adopt her as their own.
And yet, Ellen wants to know who her biological parents are. Her heart needs to know. Living in New York, that is not yet possible for my friend.


Joey Ashbridge is also adopted. His adoption record is in Ohio, where Bill 23 modified the law governing adoption records in 2015.  He shared his story of searching for his adoptive parents via YouTube. He has since taken the video down, but not before his documentary, allowing us to follow him as he sought out, met, and connected with his family, helped raise awareness regarding unsealing records. It was an emotional, compelling, and eye opening video.

Joey is currently raising awareness again, this time filming a documentary, following professional raft guide and adventure sports athlete, Eric Thompson, who after becoming paralyzed in an accident is attempting to get back to the river using a special raft designed for use by disabled rafters. You can read more about that here.

Well aware that there are two sides to every story, I have chosen to raise awareness for the adoptees. I know how very important it is to Ellen to be able to find the truth; regardless of what it may be, and I think that she should be allowed to choose to seek. Of course, the biological parent still has the right to not engage, but at least unsealing allows both parties to consider connection in light of where each person is in their life today.


Although I can’t even pretend to know how she feels, my heart can feel the desire of hers, and it is my hope and prayer that she, as well as other adoptees whose records are still sealed, will be granted the option to find out who brought them into this world if they so desire.

terrifying and amazing





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