Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Maine Joins States with Open Records Tomorrow

Happy New Year to Maine,

Come January 1st, which will become the sixth state to have open records! Without the damn disclosure veto! Maine now joins Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Oregon, New Hampshire--all states with open records for adopted people without having a contact VETO provision in the law. Meaning: You're adopted, you want your birth records, you can have them, no restrictions apply.

Congratulations to first mother Bobbie Beavers and adoptee Cathy Robishaw, co-founders of Original Birth Certificates for Maine, both of whom worked tirelessly to unstuck the legislature in Maine. The vote, amazingly enough, was three-quarters in favor of open records in the House, and two-thirds in the Senate. Maine's law sealead-records law dated from 1953. New York's dates from 1933.

According to the Kennebec Journal, more than 130 people have pre-registered to get their birth certificates at the office of vital records which will be open on Friday, January 2. A private reception for adoptees and their families will be held at the August EconoLodge at 5 p.m. on Friday. For more information contact Bobby Beavers, rbbeavers@comcast.net. (Link doesn't connect but copy it and put it in your own email.)

In New York we continue to fight to open records but lobbing is an education in both open hearts and closed minds. You find some sympathetic people who support you, and then you then come up against folks who will never change their minds...who are against opening the records because they fear the well-being and health of us poor birth/biological/first mothers in the closet. Who will only support a bill with a contact veto, which is prima facae unfair, unjust, unequal. Who are against open records and won't tell you why. They just are. They will be tomorrow. Which is how we found adoptive mother Rosie O'Donnell's nasty brother when we lobbied last spring. I was with two adoptees--one has been to court and been turned down; the other has tried just about everything but that. She was in tears when we left.

Pleazzze! we say, but these people listen but can not hear. If you are reading this and you were touched by adoption in some state that still has sealed records please get more involved than simply reading blogs. Bobbie Beavers actually got herself elected to the Maine legislature to make this happen.

Registries are not the answer! they deprive adopted people of equal rights and information about themselves--make a resolution to write, call, lobby your legislators. Without us--making a huge fuss--the records will stay shut.

Act UP! NOW!

Go see Milk, the movie about Harvey Milk and his fight for gay rights, and it will be hard not to relate it to our movement. If we could get the kind of demonstrations that the gays had we would win. Sooner rather than later. Speaking of movies, Australia--though it got so-so reviews--is a big old fashioned movie with great scenery and a wonderful warm adoption story with a half-white, half aboriginal child at its center that gets everything right. Bring tissues but you'll leave the theater feeling good.

We will win this fight someday. And We Will Win this fight someday. Justice is on our side.

Happy New Year everybody. --lorraine

Below is the press release from Bobbie and Cathy.

New Law Affects Maine Adoptees

Maine LD 1084/Public Law 409 – An Act to Allow Adult Adoptees Access to their Original Birth Certificates (OBC) - goes into effect January 1, 2009. Any Maine-born adult adoptee wishing to receive an uncertified copy of their original birth certificate in-person on January 2, 2009 at the Office of Vital Statistics in Augusta, must contact Lorraine Wilson immediately at the following address, email, or phone and provide her with the information (below) she will need to locate their records:

Lorraine Wilson
Deputy Registrar
Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics
Division of Public Health Systems
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Maine Department of Health and Human Services 244 Water Street 11 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0011
(207) 287-3181
1-888-664-9491 (toll free)
Lorraine.Wilson@maine.gov


The adoptee information needed:

  • Name after adoption, Date of birth, Town of birth (if known)
  • The relationship of the requestor to the adoptee (i.e., same person, son, daughter, etc.)
  • Contact information of the requestor

In order to receive a copy of his/her original birth certificate on January 2, 2009, an adoptee will still need to download the official state application form from this website: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/bohodr/documents/Application%20for%20Adult%20Adoptee.pdf. The adoptee must also bring (or mail if not coming in-person) the filled out and notarized form, a certified copy of their current birth certificate, and a $10 check made out to: Treasurer - State of Maine.

Parents of origin (also called birth parents) may also NOW submit information, confidentially, to Lorraine Wilson:

Everyone impacted by this law should read the rules compiled by the Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics (Maine Center for Disease Control, DHHS), downloadable at this website: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/_rules_documents/Adult%20Adoptees%20Access%20to%20Original%20Birth%20Certificate.pdf.

REASONS FOR SUBMITTING THIS INFO EARLY: If an adoptee applies for the first time on January 2, 2009, it is very likely they will not get the uncertified copy of their original birth certificate that day. If birth parents have filled out their forms, adoptees will have updated medical info and possibly a current contact name and address that will expedite searching if that is what an adoptee chooses to do.

ISSUES TO BE AWARE OF:
  • Adoptees who obtain their OBC before a birth parent has submitted their forms will be able to request that DHHS send them the birth parent contact preference and medical history forms.
  • In about 80-90% of the cases, the birth fathers name will not be on the birth certificate (DNA testing has not been available until relatively recently and birth fathers were not always required to be part of the surrendering process as they are now), unless the couple was married.
  • Medical, genealogical and cultural histories are important to many individuals, yet for others, just having the document (“the deed to my person,” as adoptee Robert Hafetz says) will be sufficient at this time.
  • To help people impacted by this law to work through the emotional roller coaster that this information may stimulate, OBC for ME has two adoption triad support group formats: ONLINE at this website - http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/obcformesupport/ which requires a prior free Yahoo registration, and IN-PERSON with the next meeting on January 17, 2009, at Norway Savings Bank Community Room, Route 1 South, Falmouth, ME, 10 AM - Noon. There are also support groups in just about every state, province and country on this continent as well as in most overseas countries.
,_._,___

2 comments :

  1. One way for mothers to counter the "privacy" argument is to demand the OBC for OURSELVES. After all, we gave birth, we should be entitled to the document that confirms this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I finally figured out where Post a Comment was:

    Hi Lorraine,

    I did not get elected either try (short 124 votes out of about 3550 votes cast in 2006 and short 50 votes out of 5106 votes cast in 2008) to the Maine House of Representatives, but I got very well known by many Dems in Maine, which I believed helped us get the bill through along with Senator Paula Benoit’s and Rep David Farringtons’ efforts.

    Below is what I posted at Marley's Daily Bastardette.

    Love,
    Bobbi

    Bobbi, ecstatic in Maine, here ...

    Thanks, Marley, for your commentary on the PPH editorial. And no, PPH did not editorialize for or against LD 1084 in 2007 or the same bill LD 1805 in 2006 though a group of OBC for ME people met with their editorial staff in 2006.

    Just got back from all the excitement and celebration in Augusta - January 1 through today. Whew! No last minutes stays as they had in Canada - I worried about that due to the paranoia I developed over the past 4 years while working on this effort.

    For those who wish to know who founded OBC for ME in February 2005, it was 3 parents of origin (Paul Schibbelhute of NH, Peter Jensen of ASCME.net and myself) and one adoptee, Cathy Robishaw. We had many parents of origin testify at the public hearings in both 06 and 07 but we were invisible and they were deaf to our words (less so in 07, thankfully).

    I need to correct a figure in the news articles today about OBC for ME Day yesterday. Former Senator Paula Benoit (lead sponsor in the Senate) and another adoptee stayed until 5 PM - there were almost 50 adoptees of the 141 pre-registered who got their OBC (the young man from Florida call me this afternoon to tell me he was having lunch with his first mother - he had gone from the OVR to the Maine Archives, back to OVR to get his mothers marriage certificate and then to the internet and got the current address of his mother. He called her this morning from Augusta and met at noon in Lewiston, ME - tissues, please - and later he called again to have her tell me directly how thrilled she is to meet him - she had no other children, but the father did and he has given Dan his info). In addition, at least a dozen people who had not pre-registered came in and applied (will get their OBC's next week).

    We were thrilled that Senator Lou and Pat D'Allesandro of NH (SB 335) came with their daughter Ann and Ann's husband to witness Ann getting her OBC. Search Angel Larry Maurice of NH came too and was madly helping people with their searches (via computer) all during our buffet dinner reception last night, prior to our hour of sharing.

    We were also excited that our prime sponsor, Rep David Farrington was able to join us at the Maine OVR for the first couple of hours. OBC for ME presented both David and Paula with Certificates of Appreciation and the law (Maine Public Law Chapter 409) printed on parchment paper, scrolled and ribboned.

    The adoptee from California and one from Massachusetts have found almost all the info they need. Unfortunately Cathy did not get her fathers' name as most did not, and she already had her mother's name via a search angel. One of the highlights of the evening was when her 10 year old son stood up during the last hour when every one was giving their reactions to the day, and stated how proud he was of his mom for working on this law And her parents restated their support of her efforts, as well.

    I'd be remiss if I did not also thank Carolyn Hoard of AAC who helped me write the Maine law (she did most of it - I tweaked it) as she had done for NH, tailoring the Oregon law to the adoption and birth certificate laws of our states.

    This was a truly wonderful group effort. It just happened that I was retired and was the one able to work on it full time for 2 and half years.

    Now to catch up on 200 new emails and 2000 old emails ....

    Bobbi Beavers
    Co-founder - OBC for ME
    Maine Rep - AAC

    ReplyDelete

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