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Abstract

There are many hurdles that adult adoptees face when seeking access to personal information contained in original birth records or adoption proceedings. One such hurdle is the widely-used good cause standard, which requires adoptees seeking information to show good cause to obtain access. This standard is problematic primarily for its vagueness. Very few jurisdictions that use this standard define “good cause” in any meaningful way, and case law interpreting good cause statutory language is inconsistent at best. Although it is meant to protect the privacy interests of all parties in an adoption proceeding, the good cause standard acts as a barrier to those seeking information about their history. While recognizing that progressive legislative solutions are ideal, this Note proposes to shift the burden in jurisdictions where the good cause standard still applies; courts should be required to show good cause to keep records sealed, consistent with other areas of records access and first amendment jurisprudence.

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