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TalkBack Live

Shoud Adoptees Have Access to Their Birth Records

Aired May 31, 2000 - 3:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since this open records thing has come out, I've been terrified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST: That woman, and others like her, are terrified they'll be tracked down and contacted by a child given up for adoption.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a right to the privacy that I was promised by the state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BATTISTA: But no more. A Supreme Court challenge to Oregon's open adoption records law has failed and thousands of adoptees will soon get a look at their original birth certificates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHY ALLEN, ADOPTEE: My absolute dream would be to be able to find some family members that could give me some medical history. Utopia would to be able to get a picture of my birth mother.

DELORES TELLER, OREGON ADOPTIVE RIGHTS ASSOCIATION: It's a civil rights issue that adoptees have the right to know where they came from and why they were given up. That's a huge question that follows them their whole life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BATTISTA: Is an adopted child's need to know more important than the biological parents' privacy?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE.

Adoptees in Oregon have been fighting for two years now to do something that the rest of us take for granted: look at their birth certificates. But a lot of birth mothers are afraid they won't stop at just looking. Joining us first today is Pam Hasegawa, an adoptee who has been searching for her birth mother since 1975. Pam, thanks very much for joining us. And before we get to your story -- which I might add is very sad, and I wish it was happier for you -- I did want to ask you why it's so important to you that you find your birth parents.

PAM HASEGAWA, ADOPTEE: It's very important to me that I have a right to documents that everyone else in the country who is not adopted has a normal right to, which is a copy of my own original birth certificate. I wanted to find my birth parents and I worked very hard to do that, but many adoptees simply want to have the proof that they were born, that we were born. Our amended birth certificates contain false information. It says that our adopting patients gave birth to us, even though our adopting patients might be only 10 years older than we are or a different race.

BATTISTA: Is this just a document issue really or is there an emotional aspect to it? Do you psychologically feel like there's a piece of your life that's missing and you won't feel complete until you find that piece?

HASEGAWA: I was very -- I suffered from depression a great deal, even though I'm an extrovert and seemed to be a very social and happy person, which I basically am. But when I had a daughter and held her in my arms as an infant, I suddenly thought about how painful it would be if I had to give her up. And for the first time in my life I thought and identified with my birth mother and the suffering that it must have caused her to give me up for adoption. I couldn't imagine giving my daughter away. It was unthinkable.

BATTISTA: So how long did you look for your mom and what happened when you started that whole process?

HASEGAWA: Well, I searched from 1975 to 19 -- middle of 1978. When I was 18, my father gave me the court order for my adoption, which had my birth name on it, and he gave me the hospital bill, which the doctor had sent to him. That had my birth mother's name on it. So I figured I was starting out with more information than most people had.

And since I've been in the reform movement for 25 years, I have learned that a significant percentage of adoptees have identifying information that was given to their parents by the agency or by the attorney. And when the child becomes an adult, very often the adoptive parents share that information with them.

So as laws stand in most states right now, where records are sealed, birth parents are unwittingly subject to the possibility of being found by their sons and daughters, because probably 40 percent of the adopted people in this country have identifying information that was given to their parents and passed on to them.

BATTISTA: But when -- but I -- I'm -- when did you actually find the woman that you thought was your mother?

HASEGAWA: Oh, it took me -- I'm sorry. It took me 3 1/2 years to find a woman that matched almost all of the nonidentifying information that I was given.

Her last name was not the same as the name on my birth certificate. The name on my birth certificate was Rolland Singa Hampden, and I found a woman whose first name was Singa who was from Hampden County, Massachusetts who studied music in Paris when my mother was supposed to have been there, who was the same age, everything fit except the last name, and that was the name of the county where she grew up.

BATTISTA: So did you ever make contact with her?

HASEGAWA: I did. The first time I called her she told me that agency -- that she didn't -- she didn't understand why I was calling her. She had nothing to do with my natural mother placing me for adoption. She said agencies take care of things like that, I have nothing to do with it.

After that, I didn't call her again. I just -- I wrote to her occasionally. I sent her Christmas cards. I delivered cookies, left with the doorman at her apartment. And actually, I did not meet her until a few months before she died about seven or eight years ago.

BATTISTA: And then you did some DNA testing, and this had to be a shock...

HASEGAWA: Yes.

BATTISTA: ... after 15 years.

HASEGAWA: It was a total shock. I couldn't believe it when I called the lab.

BATTISTA: That she was not your mother.

HASEGAWA: That she could not possibly be my mother.

BATTISTA: After all those years.

HASEGAWA: Yes, because all the information fit. If I took the time to tell you the 20-minute version of the story and I got to the end and said the DNA didn't match, you'd say, I don't believe it.

BATTISTA: And yet she kept your letters and things like that. Very interesting.

HASEGAWA: She did. She did. All my letters and pictures that I had ever sent her.

BATTISTA: Are you still looking for your mother then now?

HASEGAWA: I went to court. I got my copy of my original birth certificate and the surrendered documents at the cost of about $1,200 in court fees, and I have continued to look for the people whose names are on the birth certificate, but I have not been able to find anyone with those names who could possibly be my birth parents. BATTISTA: And how did your adoptive parents feel about this, assuming they were still with you during this part of this process or now?

HASEGAWA: My adoptive mother died when I was 12 years old of a heart attack. My father, who always told me that my life was my life to live, and if I made choices that were different from the choices he would have made, he had respect for me as an individual. It is that father who gave me the court order with my birth name on it and the hospital bill with my birth mother's name on it and said: These belong to you; take care of them; this is your life, this is your history.

BATTISTA: Considering the experience that you had where it turned out that it was not your biological mother but you had that whole experience where you called her and she said, I don't want to talk to you, it could -- let's say hypothetically it was your mother and she had said, I don't want to talk to you or see you. Are you sympathetic at all to her right to that privacy?

HASEGAWA: Once I -- I have -- I feel that I have a right to the information about who I was when I was born, who she was, who my birth father was if that's on the birth certificate. She had a right to say she didn't want to meet me, but I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not she was my mother.

After that conversation, every time I wrote to her I said at the bottom of the letter, if you are not my birth mother, just send me a post card, tell me you're not, and you will never hear from me again. And I totally meant it, and she never did that.

BATTISTA: She never did?

HASEGAWA: Never.

BATTISTA: Surprising.

We're going to take a break here at this time. Pam is going to stay with us. In a moment, we'll talk with a mother who feels betrayed by this new law. We invite you to take part in today's TALKBACK LIVE online vote at CNN.com/talkback, As we take a break. Our question: Should adoptees have access to their birth records? We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BATTISTA: Welcome back.

Joining us now is a woman who wants to be known only as Christina, she gave a child up for adoption years ago and she does not wish to be contacted.

Christina, thank you for joining us.

CHRISTINA, BIRTH MOTHER: Thank you, Bobbie.

BATTISTA: How do you feel now about the prospect that the child that you gave away years ago could now come back into your life and contact you?

CHRISTINA: Well, I think for me personally, it's not so much a question of contact. I do believe that the only way to do this is through mutual consent registries, where both parties agree to such a thing. The idea of somebody having information about me for all intents and purposes, a stranger having information about me and they can use that information however they want, they can walk into my life whenever they want, is extremely disturbing.

It's truly -- in a way it's -- you know, it's almost like psychological rape. You have this very personal, intimate moment that could take place if both parties agree to it, but if one doesn't agree to it, it's incredible.

BATTISTA: I think what people forget of course is that the birth mother has not had a relationship with this child.

CHRISTINA: Exactly.

BATTISTA: Complete stranger to them.

CHRISTINA: That's right.

BATTISTA: Do you feel now that the contract that you signed years ago is virtually worthless?

CHRISTINA: I would hope not. I did not make my decision -- my adoption plan in Oregon, but I know that, you know, it appears that states are doing this, moving in this direction. So, in a sense, yes, it does feel completely and totally worthless.

BATTISTA: Now let me ask you the opposite question that I asked Pam a few moments ago, are you sympathetic at all to those who feel the need to know about their heritage and, of course, about their medical records, and to sort of fill this psychological hole in their lives? Are you sympathetic to that?

CHRISTINA: Of course I am sympathetic to it. Most of -- a lot of the registries do have mechanisms in place. Most of your agencies have mechanisms in place where they can get non-identifying medical information to a person who was adopted without giving them identifying information. So that part, it can be taken care of. Now, in terms of the other, of course I'm sympathetic to it. Most agencies also have background information without identifying information.

And I think that if two people really want to meet, they should be afforded that choice, but it has to be mutually consented to. Everybody has a right to make personal autonomous decisions about who they choose to have in their life, out of their life, and who has information about them that is intimately their own, and they should be the ones to decide how that gets disseminated.

BATTISTA: I'm not going to get personal here, because quite frankly it's none of our business why you gave your child away, but on -- let me ask, though, why you do not want to be contacted even these many years later by your child? CHRISTINA: Again, it's not a question of not -- no contact for me personally, there are many women, that is the point. I feel that it has to do with timing, and if my timing is not good, if the child now adult's timing is not good, then I respect that as much as I would hope that, that person would respect my timing and my dignity, because you're dealing with two human beings.

BATTISTA: So what happens if you are contacted?

CHRISTINA: I couldn't answer that question right now. I mean, I hope that, that would never happen, and it would be devastating to me because there would be an intrusion. I mean, this would be an intrusion into my life, something that I have no control over, and there are many women out there that do feel that way despite what a lot of people claim.

I have heard from many, many birth mothers who are devastated over what happened in Oregon, devastated over what happened in Tennessee, and it's as if they are being vilified for a very personal, some people would say even beautiful, wonderful choice and people are just vilifying them for it.

BATTISTA: After losing the Oregon case to the Supreme Court, will you go on fighting this legally? I mean, what avenues do you have?

CHRISTINA: We will -- we are starting an organization and for anybody who is interested they can contact the National Council For Adoption, who can put birth mothers or other people that are sympathetic to this privacy issue, and we are going to try to brainstorm and formulate a way to go forward and to bring awareness, education to the rest of the population, because I don't think people fully understand, they have not walked in my shoes, they do not know what it's like, and to have this type of thing happen personally, it's just devastating, it really is.

BATTISTA: Do you think that this will make other young women or birth mothers think twice about adoption as an option?

CHRISTINA: I can only speculate and I would answer that question in the positive. I have talked to birth mothers who have obviously made that decision already to make an adoption plan, who have said to me in their moments of pain -- because when something like this is happening it's very painful, and it's heartbreaking, you don't understand why the state would do something like this -- where they have said had they known that this was going to happen they would have made other choices, which is a powerful testimony.

BATTISTA: We are going to take another break again at this time, and when we come back we will talk to the audience as well as a couple more guests. Back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BATTISTA: Tennessee, Montana and Delaware have recently passed adoptee rights laws. Montana's law is not fully retroactive. Delaware gives birth mothers the right to veto disclosure. And Tennessee gives birth mothers the right to veto contact.

Let me take a phone call first. Tim is on the line from Pennsylvania -- Alabama, sorry. Go ahead, Tim.

TIM: Well, I just wanted to address, I do feel sensitive for your guests that was on who is a birth mother. However, as an adult adoptee, I think that some of the problems that we have is sort of a perpetual childhood thing. I've been looking for my birth parents for the past 10 years. I was adopted in Florida, which doesn't have any kind of law or anything that would allow us to get identifying information or not identifying information, but I've come to actually look at it less from a reunion standpoint, and more from a standpoint of I really have no way to answer ethnic questions about myself or about my background. I'm considering, you know, having children here soon, and I don't know what genetic possibilities there would be, and it's really a concern for me. I don't know anything about my past or my background, and I'd like to be able to have that information, and I think that everyone should be able to go in, and walk into the courthouse and access their own birth records.

BATTISTA: All right, Tim, thanks very much.

Christina, there was a -- what do I want to say? Something from the chatroom, an Internet comment, that's what I'm thinking, comment from the chatroom a few moments ago, that said that birth mothers may be afraid to face their children after so many years, because essentially, they abandoned them. Is that something that plays into this.

CHRISTINA: Absolutely not. I mean, it's counterintuitive in a way for me, because the decision I made obviously was a very personal, very loving, very painful. It was actually -- and I know that it's something that you need to be careful when you say it, but I love that child so much that I wanted the best for her, and that's why I made the decision I made. So for somebody to tell me that I abandoned my child when I carefully made the decision to place her with a family, with a mother and father, is beyond me. It's completely beyond me.

BATTISTA: And let me go over here to a couple folks we invited down to our audience today.

Annabelle, you are with?

ANNABELLE: I'm a director of an adoption agency, Alien Adoptions.

BATTISTA: And how do you feel about this?

ANNABELLE: Well, I've been sitting here listening to vocabulary. The word abandon is a very strong, negative word. The word give away is a very strong, negative word, and times have changed, and people have changed and concepts have changed, and it's not giving a child away; it's making an adoption plan now. It's quite different. So the way adoption is done today is quite different from the way it was done 20 years ago.

BATTISTA: So you would support then open records?

ANNABELLE: I do support open records in a very, very careful way, because we're dealing with people who made different decisions 20 years ago, and they have a different mental preparation for what's going on. They're not prepared. And so I think in many individual cases, they need help in making transitions and make the contacts.

BATTISTA: Let me introduce two more people to you this segment. Joining us now is William Pierce, President of the National Council for Adoption, and on the phone with us is Thomas McDermott, an adoptive father and an attorney who fought on behalf of adoptees.

Welcome to both of you. Thank you very much for joining us.

This is essentially, you know, a core argument between, you know, who has the right to know versus the right to privacy, and I'm not sure how you decide which one supersedes the other.

WILLIAM PIERCE, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION: I think it's easy. I think that we can decide who has the right that is superior by seeing what happens if you take a way that right. If you take away the right of a woman who is pregnant to private, confidential choice to manage her pregnancy and to plan adoption, and she choose to terminate the pregnancy, because that's the only private choice she has, then you're not going to have peel even able to ask the question about medical information, because they will never have been born.

BATTISTA: Thomas.

THOMAS MCDERMOTT, ATTORNEY/ADOPTIVE FATHER: Yes. Mr. Pierce likes to make it very simplistic and to say one race is superior to others'. What we've done in Oregon is actually balance those rights. Measure 58, which was just upheld by all of the appellate courts, is a balancing measure. It says that the adoptee is entitled to its original, unmended birth certificate. That's the only document they get, and they get it as a matter of right. So to me, it's not appropriate to be talking about whose rights are superior to whom.

PIERCE: Well, as Mr. McDermott knows well, the courts sometimes makes mistakes. They are not God, and they are not perfect. We've had a whole lot of court decisions in our nation's history which were tragic. This series of court decisions in Oregon is very tragic because it tears up the promises made to thousands upon thousands of women by judges, lawyers, attorneys, social workers, physicians, adoption agencies. Who can you trust? Who can you trust?

BATTISTA: I think it was interesting what Annabelle said a few moments ago about how the process itself, Thomas, has changed Thomas over the years.

MCDERMOTT: I think that's true. In Oregon, our experience is now over 95 percent of the adoptions that are done currently are open adoptions, where everyone knows who everyone else is.

BATTISTA: And that in a sense -- and some of the laws, like Alabama for example, is just getting ready to institute open records again. They have been closed for 10 years, had been open for that. So is it kind of is cyclical issue, or?

MCDERMOTT: Well, In Oregon, I can only speak to Oregon because that's where I've had the experience. For the vast majority of the time our state has been a union, the records were open. It was only in the 1950s that they prevented adoptees from getting their original birth certificate without a court order, and that correspondent with a time in our nation when shame and secrecy, McCarthy era, all of that was going on. So I'd say yes, you've seen it ebb and flow over the years, but I think we're now in a new era where more and more people accept the idea it's healthiest for the adoptee to be able to have basic information about who they are and where they came from.

PIERCE: Bobbie, I think it's interesting that Mr. McDermott would drag the McCarthy era into this. As Mr. McDermott knows, because I think he has read the history, the reason that records were sealed in the '50s was because the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare Children Bureau had lots of people as a feminist decision who decided that they needed to provide privacy guarantees to married especially who had become pregnant while there husbands were away during WWII. When he talks about the fact that records have been opened for most of Oregon's history. The search movement has only been a reality for the last 30 years. It's a very, very lawyerly approach, but it's not something that makes any common sense.

MCDERMOTT: Well, the people of Oregon found that it made common sense by 57 percent of the vote, Mr. Pierce.

PIERCE: The reason that the people of Oregon voted the way they did, and you know this very well, Mr. McDermott, is that there was no real debate, there was no real opposition in Oregon.

MCDERMOTT: That's not true. That's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

MCDERMOTT: The Mormon Church, for instance, made great efforts to oppose the measure.

PIERCE: I'm sorry, but you're wrong. If you can show one clipping to CNN, to Bobbie, about the Mormon Church doing anything in Oregon I will buy you lunch at the most expensive restaurant in Portland. That's absolutely false.

MCDERMOTT: Get your checkbook out, Mr. Pierce.

PIERCE: That's absolutely false.

BATTISTA: On that note we have to take a quick break here and we'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BATTISTA: We are back, and we have another special guest in the audience. The Reverend Otis Pruitt (ph) is with us. You are the chaplain at the adoption One Church One Child program.

REV. OTIS PRUITT, ONE CHURCH ONE CHILD: OK, What I'm...

BATTISTA: Let me ask you first what that program is all about, One Church One Child?

PRUITT: What do -- what we do is we find homes for homeless children through the churches throughout the state of Georgia. What we do is we recruit families from the churches, educate them and refer them to county, state or private agency for placement and we also follow them through the adoption process.

BATTISTA: So do you think the records should be open or not?

PRUITT: I feel that the records should be open, because our children need to -- not to be rejected and not to be closed out so much, and I think that's what's happening to them, and when they want to know at an age, at an adult age to know who their parents are, I think they have that right to know that.

I'm -- because, I mean, how can you function in this world without knowing where your roots are and knowing who and how you got here? I think the most disturbing thing of all is that when you are -- start to get married, you want to know, and then when you start to have children, and of course for medical records, for biological and all kinds of other...

BATTISTA: Pam, I see you shaking your head on that. You identify with that?

HASEGAWA: Absolutely. What he says about medical records -- Christina said that adoptees can get medical information through registries or from agencies, but that medical information is as old as the adoptee. I'm 58. What good is information about my birth mother when she was 20 or 30 years old, when most of us don't encounter health problems until we're middle aged.

A registry doesn't provide medical information. A problem -- one of the most serious problems with a registry concept is that dead people don't register, so the adoptees who have the gravest needs for medical information are not able to get it through a registry system, because a dead person can't register.

BATTISTA: Well, this would be a lot simpler issue, William, if it were just about medical records, because you could easily get medical records, I think, from people without necessarily having their identities given away.

HASEGAWA: How?

PIERCE: Well, the fact...

BATTISTA: Well, because you could pass on the information through an agency or whatever, right, without the identity?

PIERCE: Bobbie is a hundred percent correct. Bobbie, the fact is that there are ways to get non-identifying medical, genetic and other background information. Your caller from Florida, who was adopted from Florida, said that there is no way to do it.

There was a person who testified in Congress who runs the Florida registry. Her name is Josie Marquez (ph). She said that the judges often come to her and ask her to contact the birth mothers and to provide information. She said that 60 percent of the birth mothers agree to provide identifying information and that it is regularly routine for them to provide updated medical information. In terms of the...

HASEGAWA: Mr. Pierce...

PIERCE: Go ahead, sorry.

HASEGAWA: ... you were asked to provide any proof on paper that any agency or state ever promised a birth parent that she would have confidentiality from her own child. You never produced any evidence that, that was true. Things you say are true are misinformation.

PIERCE: Pam -- no, no, Pam Hasegawa knows very well that in the Oregon case the Boys and Girls Aid Society of Oregon provided exactly that documentation. Pam Hasegawa also knows that a book that was written by E. Wayne Carp talks about the fact that indeed women were promised confidentiality. And besides that...

HASEGAWA: He said that records...

PIERCE: ... all of us know when you go to see a lawyer, or a clergy person, or your psychiatrist, they don't give you a piece of paper saying that you're promised privacy. It is understood.

BATTISTA: The bottom line here, Tom...

HASEGAWA: The only...

BATTISTA: Let me get Thomas back in the conversation, because the bottom line is it isn't just about medical records. And -- and you have personal experience about that, Thomas, because your son is adopted.

MCDERMOTT: That's right. I want to turn to that in a second, but let me first say that Mr. Pierce is incorrect. I'm completely familiar with the record in Oregon. There's never been a single writing from any adoption agency that promised the birth mother confidentiality.

They had -- they had certain information on the forms saying, we won't, we the agency won't release this information without your permission, but there was never a promise made that the state would not release birth certificates or other information.

In fact, the only writing that directly went to that point came from the LDS Social Services Agency, Jane Doe No. 4, in which she was told in writing that in the future the legislature may change the law to allow adoptees to find their birth parents. So the only thing that was in writing actually went against what Mr. Pierce was saying. Now, with regard to my own son, he came through a doctor's office. It was a private adoption. And therefore, there is no adoption agency that we can go to, to get information from. And so -- and the registry, his birth mother, we understand moved pack to New York City and probably has no idea of what -- that Oregon has a voluntary registry.

BATTISTA: And you're saying...

MCDERMOTT: So many people's -- many people's situation is such that the only place they can get a starting point for a search is through their original birth certificate.

BATTISTA: And your son wants to find his birth mother, correct?

MCDERMOTT: Not necessarily find her. He would like to have the information. He's half Puerto Rican. He would like to know what his name was at birth, and he would like the option of trying do contact her later when he's ready. He's only 16.

BATTISTA: And very quickly, how do you feel about that?

MCDERMOTT: Oh, I'm all for it. I love this child, and if this will help him have -- be a better human being and have more information about himself, I want to help him.

BATTISTA: All right. We have to take a break. We'll be back in just a moment.

In 1999, American families adopted 16,396 children from overseas, about double the number of a decade earlier. The majority were from Russia, China, South Korea, Guatemala, Romania, Vietnam, India, and Colombia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BATTISTA: Alabama legislators voted on May 15th to give adoptees access to their birth certificates. The action reversed the 1990 Alabama adoption code, which sealed all records. Prior to that code, adult adoptees in Alabama had access to their records on demand.

Let me get the audience in here quickly. Rebecca, go ahead. You have two adopted sisters, first of all.

REBECCA: Yes, ma'am. Earlier the issue was raised whether or not people would change their mind and maybe turn to, say, abortion as opposed to adoption for their children. Well, I have one thing to say: birth control and being responsible for who you are.

If you are going to bring a child into this world, you need to understand that there are responsibilities that come along with that, and if that means, if nothing else, keeping that child updated medically, then that child most definitely has the right to that information, if nothing else. And to try and deny another individual that you created and you brought into this world of that information, who has any rights then? BATTISTA: Roger feels a little differently.

PIERCE: So Rebecca -- so Rebecca is basically saying that if you want privacy and you are pregnant you shouldn't bring that child into the world?

REBECCA: You are allowed to have privacy as an individual, but when you are pregnant, you are no longer an individual. You have now created a new life that you have to take responsibility for in one way or another. And if that means medically you have to keep that child informed for the rest of its life, you have to take on that responsibility.

PIERCE: So if you want privacy then, Rebecca, you really have to terminate the pregnancy?

REBECCA: If you want privacy and you are not ready to take on the responsibility of a child, do not have a child.

PIERCE: OK. You just made my point.

BATTISTA: Let me go Roger, because he has concerns about that.

ROGER: I'm really concerned about taking that right of privacy out of the picture, because what other options are you leaving the mother with if she -- I mean, making the decision to giving a child to adoption is really a tough decision, and I think that the options are pretty much limited if you lose that right of privacy, because that right of privacy is an essential issue.

BATTISTA: William, what the are main reasons that birth mothers say they do not wish to be contacted?

PIERCE: The main reasons that they say they don't want to be contacted is, first of all, the circumstances of the pregnancy itself may be so private and so personal and so intimate that they don't feel that it's anybody else's business. I mean, it comes back to the whole issue of women and choice in the management of their reproductive rights. If we do believe in reproductive rights in our society, and we do, we say that what people do in their private intimate lives is their own business.

Women do not want to have to explain, why didn't I use birth control, why did I date a married man, why didn't I call the police when my uncle raped me, why didn't I go immediately to the police when a stranger raped me on the street at night? These are questions that women do not want to deal with. They want privacy.

Now, the other thing that's an issue is that for many women...

HASEGAWA: Privacy from your own child is an oxymoron.

PIERCE: For many women -- excuse me. For many women...

HASEGAWA: ... like Christina, they said that they were not ready. They wanted their child to have a father and a mother. They did not -- they were not rejecting the child. They wanted the child to have something better.

I mean, we know people, all of us know people who would make wonderful single parents, but they think that it's even better to have a mom and a dad.

BATTISTA: I've got to take a break. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BATTISTA: We are completely out of time. Pam Hasegawa, thank you very much for joining us. Thomas Mcdermott, William Pierce, thank you both as well, and we'll see you again tomorrow for more TALKBACK LIVE.

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