What Is a Confidential Intermediary?

In a “closed” adoption the adoptive parents do not know the identity of the birthparents and vice versa. As such, the adoptee grows up without knowing the identity of his or her birthparents. At some point in time, however, members of the adoption triangle may wish, or need, to know the identity of other members. Sometimes the ensuing reunion is heartfelt and welcome while in other instances it is not. With this in mind, the role of “confidential intermediary” was developed.

In the past, all adoptions were “closed” adoptions. The concept of an “open” adoption only developed in the latter part of the 20th century. As such, once an adoption was finalized, the adoptee rarely ever knew who his or her birth parents were and a birth parent rarely ever knew what happened to his or her child. Even the adoptive parents often had no identifying information regarding the birthparents of their adopted child. Understandably, both adoptees and birthparents frequently had the desire and/or the need to know the identity of the other party. With this in mind, laws across the United States slowly started to change in an attempt to try and accommodate those members of the adoption triangle who wanted additional information about the other members in the triangle.

Of course, not all birthparents want contact with the child they gave up for adoption and not all adopted children want to meet their birthparents. Clearly, this creates a legal dilemma. How to provide a method to facilitate contact for those who want contact without violating the confidentiality rights of those who do not want contact? A variety of solutions have emerged.   Some states have enacted laws that create procedures by which members of the adoption triangle can petition for access to information or register their consent with state registries. Other states use a confidential intermediary.

A confidential intermediary is either a governmental employee or someone who has been trained for the position. The role involves gathering information and a request for information and/or contact from one member of the adoption triangle and making contact with another member to deliver the request. The primary objective of the confidential intermediary is to ascertain the individual’s willingness to waive the confidentiality of the adoption proceedings. In other words, does the individual want to make contact with the person conducting the search? If the answer is “yes”, the intermediary will then facilitate the contact. If the answer is “no”, the intermediary brings that answer back to the individual who requested the contact.

If you have questions or concerns about the adoption process or laws in the State of Tennessee, contact the adoption attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Stan Bennett
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