Antioch Law Journal


Zvi Greismann


Among the most difficult questions arising out of an adoption is whether a record should be reopened at the request of an adult adoptee seeking information about his or her biological parents. In most jurisdictions an adoptee seeking this information must obtain a court order.'Adoption proceedings are statutory and, therefore, proceedings to unseal records are governed by state adoption laws. However,existing statutory standards are vague. Ultimately the decision to grant or deny access is a discretionary one lying with the courts.Further, in exercising their discretion, courts are faced with the difficult problem of resolving potentially conflicting interests of the adoptee, the biological parents and the adoptive parents without specific guidelines.I This note will address interpretation of statutory standards for unsealing records under an adoption statute in a recent District of Columbia Superior Court decision to open an adoption record at the request of the adoptee.3 The court took judicial initiative in writing its opinion which contained an unusually thorough analysis of the conflicting interests and considered a wide range of factors in attempting to apply the broad statutory standards. The standards for reopening an adoptee's record in the District of Columbia are similarto those in other jurisdictions. Thus, the problem the Superior Court faced in applying the District of Columbia statute is similar to problems which have arisen in other jurisdictions.