Affidavit of
Small World Ministries, Inc.




IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
NASHVILLE DIVISION

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
NASHVILLE DIVISION

PROMISE DOE, KIMBERLY C. and RUSS C., and SMALL WORLD MINISTRIES, INC. )
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No. 3:96-0599
JUDGE NIXON
DONALD SUNDQUIST, Governor of the State of Tennessee, in his official capacity; CHARLES
BURSON, Attorney General of the State of Tennessee, in his official capacity; and LINDA RUDOLPH, in her official capacity as the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services for the State of Tennessee,
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AFFIDAVIT OF SMALL WORLD MINISTRIES, INC.



COMES NOW the affiant, JAMES SAVLEY, and being duly sworn according to law, does hereby depose and say as follows:

1. I am a citizen and resident of Mt.. Juliet, Wilson County, Tennessee, and do make this affidavit based on my own personal knowledge except where otherwise indicated.

2. I am the Executive Director of Small World Ministries, Inc., ("SMALL WORLD"), a non-profit ministry licensed by the State of Tennessee as a child-placing agency. SMALL WORLD has its principle office located at 401 Bonnaspring Dr., Hermitage, Tennessee, with branch offices in Laurel, New Jersey and Bucharest, Romania, and with staff located in Riga, Latvia; Moscow, Russia; Tianjin, China; and Kiev, Ukraine.

3. Since its formation in 1985, SMALL WORLD has received for adoption placement approximately 111 children domestically and 120 children from birth parents in more than 4 countries around the world, including Romania, Latvia, Ukraine and Guatemala, as well as from several families here in the United States and the State of Tennessee. The vast majority of these children have been placed for adoption with families in the Middle Tennessee area.

4. As part of its placement responsibilities, SMALL WORLD is required under the regulations of the Department of Human Services to conduct a very thorough, detailed investigation into the personal and private background of each birth parent placing a child with this agency for adoption. In addition, SMALL WORLD, acting pursuant to these state regulations, requires of each adopting parent who places a child with this agency that they disclose details surrounding their own personal and family history.

5. By illustration, and not limitation, the following are examples of the type of information which SMALL WORLD is required by law to obtain from the birth parents:

6. In addition, the following are examples of the type of private information which SMALL WORLD is required to obtain from the adopting parents:

7. Birth parents who, have furnished this information to SMALL WORLD have done so pursuant to a signed agreement assuring them that all such details of their personal and private backgrounds will be accorded the strictest degree of confidentiality, Attached hereto as Exhibit A is a true and correct copy of a sample placement agreement which SMALL WORLD uses with parents placing their children with this ministry for placement and adoption.

8. In the course of its operation SMALL WORLD has received several children for adoption from birth parents who have been the victims of crimes, of violence, child abuse, narcotics and drug abuse, and even rape and incest. These birth parents were faced with extremely difficult choices of whether to place their child with this agency or to terminate their pregnancy through abortion. In many instances their decision to forego an abortion of their unborn child was based in large part on the assurance that their identity and the details of their personal background would remain strictly confidential and secure from public disclosure. In addition, quite often this information Is obtained from these individuals at a time in their lives when they are undergoing severe emotional depression or anguish over the decision of what to do with their child, Many of them will be subjected to even greater risk to their emotional health knowing that the information of the most private details of their lives would someday be open to disclosure as allowed in the new amendment.

9. Since it first began operation, all of the information obtained by SMALL WORLD from either birth parents or adopting parents under this promise of confidentiality has been provided to the State Department of Human Services, as required by law, and, until July 1, 1996, was protected from disclosure under the provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. 36-1 -1 29.

10. Under the provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. 36-1-127(c), 1995 Public Acts Chapter 532, commencing on July 1, 1996, SMALL WORLD will be required to divulge any adoption records In its offices to any adopted person twenty-one (21) years of age or older or such person's legal representative, the person's parents, and the person's siblings, or lineal descendants who are twenty-one (21) years of age or older, or the legal representative of such person, subject only to certain narrow restrictions.

11. As a practical matter this amendment In he adoption law will mean that any person born in 1975 or earlier, and who was placed or referred for adoption, will have the right to demand access to any files or documents retained pertaining to his or her adoption, including the detailed personal and private histories of the birth parents and the adopting parents.

12.The 1995 amendment to Tennessee's adoption law regarding release of confidential information poses a significant burden on birth parents in the exercise of their right of procreational privacy, and directly impacts their decisions involving those rights. Already, SMALL WORLD has encountered several birth parent who have expressed concern that if the information they are required to provide in order to place their child for adoption is not protected as to its confidentiality, they would rather opt to abort their child than place it for adoption

13. In addition, by removing he protection afforded to adopting parents under the prior law, the amendment codified at Tenn. Code Ann. 36-1-127(c) presents a burden to prospective adopting parents in the exercise of their parental privacy rights. Specifically, the parents must now make a difficult choice of whether to adopt faced with the knowledge that the most private details of their personal and family backgrounds will be open for disclosure.

14. Based on my experience over the last 20 years in counseling with individuals and families considering whether to place their child for adoption, or whether to adopt a child, these parents are presented with some of the most difficult questions they will ever have to face. By taking back its assurance to these individuals and families that information divulged by them of the most private nature, and at a time when they are most vulnerable, will no longer be kept confidential, the State has reneged on a significant promise of maintaining this confidentiality. Therefore, SMALL WORLD requests that on behalf of the several hundred families and individuals impacted by this new amendment that this Court declare it to be in violation of their constitutionally protected rights.

Further affiant saith naught.






1996 American Adoption Congress