Most of the time, birth parents choose to place and adoptive parents choose to adopt. Both parties have the right to back out of the adoption at any time before the adoption papers are signed. But what about the child? Do they have rights? The short answer is no.

Adoptees are the only members of the triad who don’t have a choice in the matter. No infant is capable of deciding whether they want to be raised by their biological family or not. The decision on who raises them lies in the hands of their birth parents. They don’t get to choose their adoptive family.

On top of that, most adoptees don’t get to decide whether their adoption is open or closed. Sometimes their birth parents don’t feel comfortable with an open adoption. Sometimes adoptive parents choose not to allow the birth parents to be a presence in the child’s life. The only time minor adoptees have a choice in this matter is if both sets of parents are willing to have an open adoption if the child wishes. Even as an adult, contact can be difficult if both parties aren’t on board.

In many states, adoptees don’t even have the right to their own birth certificate. The originals are sealed and replaced with birth certificates that list the adoptive mother and father as parents. It’s as if their biological parents did not exist.

This means that in truly closed adoptions, adoptees have no information about their birth parents. If they want to know who they are, they can search, but there is so much left to chance.

Because adoptees don’t have a choice in the matter, the decision to both place and adopt a baby is one that should be made very carefully. Every effort should be made to give adoptees access to all the information they deserve. If at all possible, adoptions should be open so the child can have access to both of their families, so their questions will not go unanswered. The best interest of the child should always be the top priority, because they can’t speak up for themselves. Adoptee voices need to be heard, and it’s our job to fight for their rights.


Annaleece Merrill is a birth mother to the cutest little girl on earth. She loves being an advocate for open adoption by writing, mentoring, and speaking at adoption panels. She attends Utah State University in Logan, Utah.