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Published Wednesday June 24th, 2009 at 12:22am

Original Article by Jason Nark

Reunionsof adopted children and their birth parents are usually heartwarmingmoments in which tears flow and broken bonds are made whole in mereseconds.

At least that's how it usually plays out on "Oprah."

But that wasn't the case last Dec. 13, when an Atlantic City womancame face to face with the daughter she placed for adoption 30 yearsago after being raped.

This short reunion on the woman's doorstep left her feeling"violated, in shock, and short of breath," according to a lawsuit filedThursday in U.S. District Court, in Camden, and she believes that adivision of New Jersey's Department of Children and Families helped setup the traumatic event.

"Everyone would like to believe that these reunions are sowonderful," said attorney Matthew Weisberg. "This one wasn't. Theydidn't have coffee together. My client went pale. She is devastated andcontinues to be devastated because her biological child continues toattempt contact with her."

According to the complaint, the woman - whose name is being withheld by the Daily News- received a letter from the Division of Youth and Family Services inAugust 2008 saying that an adopted adult was seeking information abouther birth parents. DYFS asked her to confirm her identity and whethershe wanted to pursue the matter.

That letter alone was painful, rehashing a "violent, disturbing"incident, the complaint claims, but she believed that her lack ofresponse would suffice as an answer.

"She does not want any relationship with this woman," Weisberg said.

Nevertheless, the woman claiming to be her daughter appeared on her doorstep four months later.

When she spoke with DYFS after her biological daughter paid theunexpected visit, she was informed that because she had not returnedthe letter, the office "more or less did what they had to do," thecomplaint alleges.

The Atlantic City woman is seeking at least $1 million in damages from the state.

Privacy issues are a controversial topic in adoption today, and theNational Council for Adoption believes that identifying informationshould be released only if the adoptive and biological parents agree inadvance, said Chuck Johnson, the council's chief executive officer.

"The law should protect the rights of everyone, including the birth parents," he said.

A testimonial on the National Council for Adoption's Web site tellsa similar story, from a woman who was raped at 18 and fears that NewYork was considering unsealing birth records for adult adoptees.

Bastard Nation, an adoptee-rights organization, believes thatadoption records should be open and are tantamount to a constitutionalright.

In New Jersey, DYFS operates an adoption registry, which, accordingto its Web site, helps facilitate contact between birth-family membersand those who were adopted. Two of the defendants in the lawsuit arelisted as contacts for the registry.

A DYFS spokeswoman referred all comments to the state AttorneyGeneral's Office. Representatives from that office declined to comment.

According to the complaint, the Atlantic City woman was told thatshe had to take pre-emptive measures to keep her identity private, butWeisberg says that she was always under the protection of New Jerseylaw, which states that adoption records can be unsealed only with acourt order.

She also learned that one of her daughters had been contacted by thedaughter she placed for adoption, as well. Weisberg said that thewoman's children never knew of the rape or of the adoption prior toDYFS's involvement.

There will be no fairy-tale ending for the woman and the daughtershe placed for adoption, Weisberg said, and he believes that thesesituations harm adoptions elsewhere.

"Adoption works precisely because of those privacy procedures in place," he said. "Something like this creates a disincentive."