Dec 142011
 
 December 14, 2011  Breaches, Court, Featured News

Courthouse News reports:

A couple says Kaiser disclosed confidential birth records to an adopted child who was searching for his birth parents.

The plaintiffs, using pseudonyms, said James Ingraffia showed up on their doorstep, claiming to be their son. The birth parents say this clued them in that Kaiser had given their birth son confidential, sealed birth records.

Ingraffia’s adopted parents Salvator and Margaret helped James find his birth parents, the couple says in their complaint in Alameda Superior Court.

“Plaintiffs suffered damages in the form of fear, apprehension, shock to the nervous system and continuous and repeated episodes of severe emotional distress when they learned that although they had taken the necessary legal steps to keep information about James Ingraffia’s birth confidential and private, Defendant Kaiser had broken the seal on such records and disclosed them,” the complaint says.

Read more on Courthouse News.

Reading the complaint, I’m struck by a few things:

1. The plaintiffs seemingly offer no evidence that anyone at Kaiser breached confidentiality. The lawsuit appears premised on a “how else could he have found out?” basis for blaming Kaiser.  The young man had recently turned 21 at the time he first appeared on their doorstep. Was reaching the age of majority somehow connected to how he found out or when he found out?  Could he have found out by availing himself of California’s Adoptions Information Act? If his parents ever relinquished parental rights or a court terminated their rights, it seems a possibility.

2. The complaint alleges that their biological child repeatedly intruded on their home and in other places where they might get together with family. It also alleges that the young man repeatedly tried to contact them via text messages and e-mail.  They do not characterize these as angry/confrontational contacts, and I am left wondering how much of this is just the actions of a young man trying to get his birth parents to acknowledge him as their son.  Can you imagine being an adopted child and trying to find your parents, only to have them not only reject you but sue you for invading their privacy?  And for them to ask a court to enjoin you from contacting them again via any means?

3. The adoptive parents are also defendants in the lawsuit for allegedly assisting their child in finding his birth parents, although there is no evidence of that provided, either. The plaintiffs allege that the adoptive parents were negligent and should have known that their assistance would result in pain, suffering, distress, etc. to the plaintiffs. How should they have known that?  Perhaps the adoptive parents thought the birth parents might find themselves glad to see their child after so many years. Or perhaps they realized their child was suffering and they did what good parents do – try to help their child. In any event, suing the adoptive parents who raised the child you gave away seems, at the very least, ungrateful.

4. Attempting to protect their own privacy, the biological parents sued as Jane and John Doe, but did not file this under seal, thereby exposing their birth son (and themselves) to media scrutiny.  As far as I can tell,  nothing seems to stop the young man or his adoptive parents from naming the birth parents in any media coverage, leading me to wonder whether the parents or their attorney know about the Streisand Effect.

The Does’ identities are not only at risk of media publication as a result of the lawsuit leading to media coverage, but  their identities are easily discoverable.  I e-mailed  the Doe’s attorney yesterday morning asking her for some questions about this case and pointing out to her that leaving her clients’ home address in the complaint as the location of the offense somewhat undermines calling them Doe in court records. I’ve decided not to name them at this time, but a simple Google search gave me her clients’ names within a matter of minutes.

Image credit: © Patricia Kullberg | Dreamstime.com

  10 Responses to “Lawsuit claims Kaiser disclosed confidential birth records to adopted child”

  1. [This comment was deleted at the request of the commenter]

  2. [This comment was deleted at the request of the commenter]

  3. Money is one possibility. The other possibility is that they are shills for NCFA, the lobbyists opposed to adoptee rights on the ridiculous grounds that birth parents live in fear of being found. They live for cases like this.

    But, the truth is that anyone alive today and not living under a rock can read about and see adoptee/birth parent reunions in all mass media on a regular basis. There are no secrets today – ask any politician or anyone running for office like Cain.

    PLUS…they have to prove damages to collect in a lawsuit. How upsetting are texts and emails? i don’t think so!! It’s not like the kid took out a billboard or camped out on their doorstep.

    Not to mention that they are ASSUMING it was the hospital that gave them up. If it was a legal adoption, the adoptive parents may well have had a name on the adoption decree.

    And yes, releasing links to their names will not help their case, either. It’s all bogus one way or another.

    Troy and Jennifer Neil, of Castro Valley, California….you are real CREEPS. That’s your SON for goodness sake and you should be happy he ever wanted to know you.

  4. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Am I in big trouble. I helped my three children find their birth parents by all kinds of searching for that secret name. To find all three of our birth families waiting and wanting to be found so reunions were healers for both sides. I shudder to think of this adoptee meeting birth parents this cruel as to not acknowledge his need of a reunion. Unless there are facts we do not know and he arrived at their door step under bad situations, I shudder reading this.

  5. “although they had taken the necessary legal steps to keep information about James Ingraffia’s birth confidential and private”

    See, this is the claim I find fascinating. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no such thing in any of the 50 states. No adoption decree or any legal document has ever been shown that confirms any privacy rights to biological parents. Ever. Anywhere. This would be the first example.

    So…bring it on. Let’s see their proof that they had legal confirmation their privacy would be maintained.

    They don’t seem to mind making his name public though, do they?

  6. That is disgusting! Poor James was better off being in the dark! Very seldom do I come across biological parents that are upset about being found! Makes me sick to my stomach! Finding out where you came from is SO important and this will discourage so many adoptees. And just an FYI to these biological “parents”, birth parents can be found via public records depending on state! I am many others find people with out any “illegal” info!

  7. I was accused of the same thing by my maternal source. She believed that someone at the agency gave me info and it was a breach. It wasn’t anything that exciting. I have my adoption papers with my birth name right on them…. which was her maiden last name. It took a lot of legwork, but no one did anything sinister, no laws were broken. People can find people. And how stupid to put their address in the public court papers — duh — google the address and their names pop right up. <>

  8. I am an adoptee in reunion with both my birth mother and father. I also work as a psychologist. The need to know origins for an adoptee is a basic human need. That should trump the right to privacy for the birth parents. Why should it be that the doctors in the hospital and the adoption workers know about an adoptee’s origins, but the person most affected, the baby, who eventually becomes an adult, is not allowed basic health information. We need to have an open dialogue in this country about human rights for all Americans, because adoptees are treated as second class citizens. I finally approached my birth family, when I realized that I have at least as much right to contact them as a telemarketer or a door to door salesman does. Getting basic information from family, and harassment are two different things.

  9. CA has very good stalking laws. They could’ve called the police if he was menacing them at their door. Instead of the police, they chose to sue. Makes you wonder what’s really involved here. Sounds like maybe there was a screw loose before he showed up. Otherwise, call the cops. If someone was at my door intimidating me, I would take the time to sue the hospital of where the person was born. I’d call 9-1-1.

  10. Hi, the parents are not realizing that if the child didn’t get adopted he or she would have their orig. birth cert. with all the parents information. So they couldn’t have been promised anything.
    So counties in ca are open. That means the person can contact that county and ask for information and get it.

    Interesting reading, but it isn’t going to get far.

    Joan

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