Jean Paton on the ACLU


The ACLU has long opposed New Jersey adoption reformers’ efforts to unseal adoption records.  As early as 1972, Jean Paton expressed shock at the ACLU’s conservative position in a letter to an official of the organization. Here is part of Jean’s letter:

“Some time ago I contacted persons in the ACLU about the violation of the rights of adopted people, who must rely upon the whimsy of a judge of they are ever to learn the real facts about themselves before adoption. I was greatly shocked  to learn from the response of ACLU that they did see the issue. I wondered if they might be too involved in racial problems, admittedly acute, or whether there was a certain brand of liberalism involved in the record sealing that the ACLU did not wish to confront. I still do not know what the reason was, or is.”

Four years later, Jean identified the reason: the ACLU stressed “the natural mother’s right to privacy.” She declared that it was “difficult for me to understand how anyone can support that point of view. The rights of privacy are supposed to keep the government off of people’s backs, not separate the generations.”


About E. Wayne Carp

I am the Benson Family Chair in History and Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. To read more about me, please visit my website,

Posted on February 28, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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