Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's better: A contact veto or no reform at all?

I admit I am torn about some bills that would give more than 99 percent of the adoptees the right to have their original birth certificates, when that seems the only thing that will pass in my lifetime. I'm talking about bills that include a birth-parent veto, which would deny adoptees of mothers (and fathers, I presume) who file such a veto the right to know who they are. Cruel and unusual punishment for being adopted, it seems to me.

I've been involved in this fight for nearly four decades now, and time is slipping away. More people will die without the right to their original identities. Might it not be better to accept a compromise and let most adoptees have their original birth certificates, with the names of the parents who conceived and bore them?

The Search for Anna FisherWhen I was involved with adoptee-rights pioneer and flame-thrower Florence Fisher in trying tochange legislation in New York in the Seventies, Richard Gottfried, now chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, and others suggested that we could have a bill that would open adoption agency and court records only to adopted persons who turned eighteen after the passage of the law. In other words, a bill passed in 1976, when this was proposed by a commission on child welfare, would affect only those adoptees born that year and after; meaning: they would get their records on demand in 1994, or eighteen years after the bill passed. For the rest, a system of confidential intermediaries was proposed.

Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of AdoptionFlorence, as founder and the life behind the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association (ALMA), turned down that flat. It was all or nothing; she did not want to leave a whole group adoptees out of the loop. The following year ALMA filed a class-action federal lawsuit against New York's sealed adoption and birth records. That did not go so well, and here we are today, with the nearly the same archaic sealed-records stupidity that New York has held adoptees in thrall since 1935. A passive registry, underfunded and not publicized, connects only a tiny percentage (something less than four percent) of the people who apply. One can read about the legal case in detail in E. Wayne Carp's excellent book of the history of the adoption reform movement, Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption.

Yet Florence and I today talk about how if that bill had passed, at least people born back then would have the right to their records today, period. It is a bothersome thought.

I personally know many adoptees whose decades-long searches have led no where. So does Florence. In my files I have letters from people in their Seventies who are likely to die without ever having the answer to the question that has haunted them most of their lives. Many searchers do not take cases where the information is so scant that the search is likely to lead to a dead end. New York, unless you were born in one of the five boroughs of New York City, is a particularly hard nut to crack. A woman I wrote about earlier here has tried to search--by herself, with a searcher I put her in touch with--but to no avail. It's clear she needs either her original birth certificate or her agency file.

BirthmarkI found my daughter Jane in the early 80s, when the still-anonymous Searcher located her; in fact, as I've said here before, he had her name and family and address before from the clues I put in my 1979 memoir, Birthmark.

However, he did not give them to me until I paid $1,200. So it goes. I was glad to get the information, relieved to find my daughter. I think he must have worked for the government himself--perhaps he or she was a judge, or social worker, or adoption-agency director who could simply call up Albany and all the other vital-records departments in the country and ask for the information, and it was given. We birth mothers who used his services eagerly paid the fee and subsidized his vacation home in the Adirondacks.

But those days are over. While the Internet has made searching more available to many, thousands more still will not find out who they are without getting their hands on their original birth certificates before they were amended and the names of one's original parents locked away. I'm not going to dismiss them because others--even a great many--will be able to search anyway with the clues they have, even without their original birth certificates. While the pure issue of an adopted person's civil right cries out for justice for all--no birth mother vetoes!--I am left with the haunting sense that this leads to hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of adopted people whose quest for their original identity will have no end, whose lives will have no answers.

So while I totally understand how incredibly annoying and wrong these bills are, for they let a very very small group of birth mother deniers strip the rights of another group of people whose rights should be paramount, I have my qualms about what to do. Somewhat reluctantly, Jane and I have supported such a bill in New Jersey, which has a limited (one year) window in which birth/first mothers might file such a cruel veto, to deny their own children the right to know who they are--but yet it bothers us. At bottom such bills, as the one in Rhode Island, and the one is Illinois, are wrong headed. The states that pass them (Delaware,Tennessee) do not go back and "fix" them. The states that have a "contact preference" instead of a veto (Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama) report no problems with the law as is. A contact-preference is just that: mothers and fathers can state they do not wish to be contacted, but the adoptees still gets their original birth certificate. (Alaska and Kansas also give adoptees their records for the asking.)

Yet we get bills that contain these noxious poison pills in the form of a contact VETOES. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, on a state-by-state basis, is generally against giving adoptees the right to their original birth certificates without this "secrecy protection" for birth mothers, seemingly and wrongly assuming that most of us want to languish in birth-mother-protection programs, living anonymously among the rest of the non-birth parent population. It totally baffles me how they can ignore the rights of the adopted to have the same rights as the rest of us. All I can think is that like NOW in Michigan (which was against a bill which was pretty bad to begin with), the people who run ACLU are under the influence of adoptive parents who hide their fear in the skirts of birth/first mothers, whom they imagine do not want to be found, revealed, whatever.

One can understand the opposition of the Catholic Church because not only have they listened to the tearful confessions of women years ago who had children conceived outside of marriage (though not mine, even after 12 years of Catholic schools), the Church is also protecting scores of priests who fathered children. From all accounts, there are many such children. However, a few dioceses do individually support legislation to give adoptees their rights, such as that of Albany. Lobby organizations such as the National Council for Adoption (FOR Adoption says it all) do not even like these bills with contact vetoes; they only want passive registries. They want to keep business as usual--and it is a big money-making business--going strong.

So once again, as more than thirty years ago, in 1976 when I testified in Albany to unseal the birth records, I'm left with a quandary--do we accept a mediocre bill because it is all we can get? Since it will help so many adoptees get their original birth records on demand, is it worth accepting the poison pill of a birth-parent veto? The American Adoption Congress backs the Rhode Island bill. A group in New Jersey has been working hard for a bill with a limited-time birth-parent veto. Bastard Nation is adamantly opposed to all such bills. Posting this rumination will cause many to denounce me as a sell-out.

In one sense, this is not my fight--except that I have chosen to fight for adoptee rights--but it is not for me to oppose these bills that will affect so many. I am not adopted. I have always had my birth records, and except for a fleeting moment or two when I was five, I always knew whose daughter I was, where I came from, who my grandparents were. I've always been securely grounded in my self-awareness. But hell, I support giving not only all adoptees their original birth records and agency files, but giving birth parents the names of the people who adopted their children. Adoption as it has been practiced is a heinous crime against nature and common sense.

Yet back in 1976, if we had accepted the compromise bill offered, all people born and adopted in New York State since then...would have the unassailable right to their original birth records. What about all those people born and adopted in New York since who have been denied their records because we thought we could get more, way back in 1976? What about them? What about the people who will not get their original birth records if Rhode Island and Illinois pass no bill at all?

Today, I don't have an answer for them.--lorraine 

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the situation in England and Wales
http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk
/contact/nocontact/

Anonymous said...

First of all, I want to know where the data is that proves 99% of adoptees will get their records? I don't believe that figure at all. I think it will be MUCH less.

Secondly, to compromise human/civil rights is to say that we are different and less of a citizen than our non-adopted peers. THAT is infuriating. Human rights mean everyone is EQUAL. It kills me that convicted felons on death row can get their birth certificates but WE (adoptees) can't!!!

If dirty bills are passed, then the rest of the states (44) will rationalize that they, too, need veto clauses, etc. An entire nation of adoptees could be screwed out of our right to be EQUAL.

We (adoptees) need to hold out for what is OURS. I want my birth certificate before I die, but I don't want it if it means denying other adoptees, even ones not born yet theirs. That would be selfish and cruel. We've suffered enough cruelty at the hands of the adoption industry and from our government, we should not turn our backs on our fellow bastards.

NO COMPROMISE!!!!

Lori said...

Lorraine, well, I think that compromise, the ability to give and take, is the only way to make anything work. If it means that a child can have their birth certificate and, for those mothers that want no contact, binds them to agree to whatever terms of contact or no contact of the birthfamilies - it is more than fair.

I don't believe that would deny anyone their OBC and it would still, for those that want no contact - that goes for Adopted Persons and First Mothers - it keeps the contact issue a separate deal.

In other words - they get their OBC - which is only right - and the privacy nuts make it possible to continue to hide if they choose to do so by making contact or lack thereof part of the deal.

Yep, I know, compromise sucks, but so does the idea of an angry adoptee or a crazy first mother (we all know they exist) from becoming a problem that you have no legal recourse with.

I know, I just laid myself on the block with you.

Sign me - Compromise and Succeed

earth mother said...

I began work in Rhode Island on access to birth information in the late 1980's. I have lived and breathed each election and have closely followed the yes and no (access) votes in each of our 39 towns year after year. I wrote letters and made phone calls and stood at information tables..and way before the ease of email and F/Book. Without a long stale history of the access fight here in our state, my thoughts, observations and conclusions are as follows.

IF there were more than a mere handful(perhaps 3 out of 113?) of powerful legislators who currently
oppose unrestricted access in RI I'd say, yes, let's compromise now and meet the opposition half way, then get right back to the push for equality for all. But, all the talk about compromise is not to 'see the other side's point of view' when less than 5% of lawmakers--who are adoption lawyers and adoptive family members--are the only opposition in RI. This extremely small percentage will now be the deciding factor in the passage of this no release bill. Ultimately, the news will say that RI PASSED this bill. Really, a very , very very small number of powerful people called the shots: "it's this or nothing". And let me be clear: we had no interference from any churches, agencies, social workers, N.O.W., PP, R/T/Life, ACLU, BN or even the NCFA. We lobbied with national facts and figures and charts and graphs and experts in every field. We had massive support. "We" just didn't want to wait for the opposition to leave office... even though they had barely squeaked out a win in the last election . I was willing to wait...and work on their defeat.
And I was out voted. It was all against one: me. I was now the lone birth mother left to bother with the fight here in RI. My many inspiring sisters in reunion have died or drifted to other shores. I was still willing to wait because handing birth mothers a right to file a no release form keeps them, and me, in shame. They will be kept in shame even after their death with bill text that allows their random parents, step-parents, siblings etc to file veto's on their behalf. The opposition sings sweetly about how wonderful adoption is then whispers to the surrendering mother..it's ok to hide since you are so utterly awful.
So--the (mostly) young adoptees, many of whom have not been able to find their families of origin said: yes.
They claim they will "cut down the tree and come back for the stumps." Sadly, I suspect the stumps will rot in place before they are able to come back and set them free.
So--this mother-may-I bill is poised to pass in RI..though it has not at this moment. Most adopted people will walk in to the vital records office and request their OBC and they'll get it. Though gratifying, it is my hope that it will not be a cause for celebration as each and every single one of those OBC's will be obtained on the backs of the ones who will now be denied the same right to information about their own birth. I hope it will be a quiet and dignified event that recognizes that some were willingly left behind so others might have what they want. Every adopted adult will approach the vital records office not knowing if they will be handed a no release form and shown the door. ALL adpotees will live under that threat.
I hope those who agreed to the compromise remember that they claimed they'd keep fighting until ALL adopted adults have the same rights. THAT is the day I'll celebrate. I hope I'm still alive to enjoy the party. My heart breaks for the women who hear the toll of the bell in the distance that reminds them how shameful it was to have committed such a crime against humanity and born a child.

joy said...

Thank you for writing this it is very interesting.

I wonder how different the adoptee rights landscape would look if that bill was passed. Not being critical, just thinking aloud. I understand that the step-by-step method did work in Australia.

There is an unproven notion trotted out that compromise will never lead to parity. That wasn't true for Australia and there hasn't been enough movement here to prove it true for the U.S. either.

Of course I actively lobby for no compromise, that is what I want. Still I am not about to bash the people who have spent years working very hard in their own home states for equality. I mean unless I have an active campaign working to restore rights, that would be misplaced hubris to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Morally, yes, all adoptees should have their original birth certificates.

Unfortunately, the reality in a lot of places is that you either demand all adoptees get their OBC's but end up with no one getting anything
or
accept the dreaded veto so that the vast majority can get theirs.

The Ontario government went as far as far as they could to get OBC's for all but a judge has over-ruled the government and vetoes have to be accepted. There is no choice but to accept the ruling. The Ontario gov could have dropped the bill at that point but they didn't - they passed one with a veto as a law with access for the majority is still better than no information at all for anyone. One also have to take heart that sometimes people can withdraw the veto. In Ontario, when the person dies, the veto can be lifted so even then it is not for an eternity, as unfair as it is to make people wait.

The figures show that only 1 percent of people eligilble to file vetoes have done so.

I think that sometimes the lesser of 2 evils - that is a bill with vetoes - is better than everyone having nothing at all.

At least that way, a foot in the door for future amendments, such as information on death and the proviso that it does not apply to future adoptions (these have been implemented in the current Ontario law).

Most is still better than nothing at all for anyone ever. Time is running out for many.

maryanne said...

You have to separate search and reunion from civil rights, The fact is that most searching adoptees and birthparents have been finding each other for years without the records being open. There are many ways to do this as most of us here know, and they do not require access to the OBC.

The only bills that restore adoptee civil rights to a document that should be theirs without restriction are clean, uncomplicated bills such as were passed in Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon. No calamities have happened in these states because of open records. But in every state that has vetoes, black holes, and other restrictions, some adoptees are more equal than others, and a higher percentage than 1% are shut out.

We would not have done anyone a favor by caving in to dirty bills in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Ask Ohio black hole adoptees how they feel!

I would venture to say that almost everyone searching in the 70s has found who they were looking for, or there are other complications like black market totally false information, Search has always gone on, and will always go on no matter what the laws say. Adoptee civil rights are a whole other matter.

Anonymous said...

"Today, I don't have an answer for them"
I do. No compromise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq2-erixRu0

d28bob said...

In Missouri, we have been trying for decades to get the law opened. "Clean" bills get nowhere, as the all-powerful Missouri Catholic Conference, the Bishop's lobbying arm, insists that "promises were made" to birth mothers in the past and cannot be broken.

Paula Benoit wisely advised to refuse to link abortion, search and reunion, etc to OBC access and keep it on a civil rights basis. That works in New England and the Pacific Northwest, but the political reality in Heartland and Southern states is that culturally the issues are linked in the minds of legislators.

I struggled with supporting compromise legislation, but if we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good (or at least better) we will still be having this discussion decades from now.

Politics is compromise by its very nature - it's the "art of the deal." If there were not people with equally strong feelings on the other side of the issue, it would have been resolved long ago.

We plan to meet with our opponents in the off-season to try to find out what are the lines in the sand that neither can budge on, and hopefully find some room for improvement. Going into such negotiations with anger and absolutism will not accomplish anything; we need to establish what we can live with and means to do so. If that involves a contact veto or contact intermediaries, that may be a price we have to pay in order to gain our OBCs. Medical information or histories is another area for negotiation - the discussions here a couple of months ago opened my eyes to the other (first mother) side on that issue.

But as long as we cannot agree on common goals or means, the situation will remain stagnant. "No Compromise" is a satisfying stance, but sadly has produced no results in most States.

Sandy said...

Everything in life is a compromise, every single thing.

I agree that Oregon's law is one of the best compromises out there where the statistics back the 99% figure.

I would rather 99% than 0%.

Lorraine Dusky said...

In response to comments here, What's better: A contact veto or no reform at all?" I am adding this to the original piece, but for those who are only checking the comments, I leave it here also:

I personally know many adoptees whose decades-long searches have led no where. So does Florence. In my files I have letters from people in their Seventies who are likely to die without ever having the answer to the question that has haunted them most of their lives. Many searchers do not take cases where the information is so scant that the search is likely to lead to a dead end. New York, unless you were born in one of the five boroughs of New York City, is a particularly hard nut to crack. A woman I wrote about earlier in the blog has tried to search--by herself, with a searcher I put her in touch with--but to no avail. It's clear she needs either her original birth certificate or her agency file.

I found my daughter Jane in the early 80s, when the still-anonymous Searcher to located her; in fact, as I've said here before, he had her name and family and address before from the clues I put in my memoir, Birthmark, but did not give them to me until I paid $1,200. So it goes. I was glad to get the information, relieved to find my daughter. I think he must have worked for the government himself--perhaps he or she was a judge, or social worker, or adoption-agency director who could simply call up Albany and all the other vital-records departments in the country and ask for the information, and it was given. We birth mothers who used his services eagerly paid the fee and subsidized his vacation home in the Adirondacks.

But those days are over. While the Internet has made searching more available to many, many many will still not find out who they are without getting their hands on the original birth certificate before it was amended. I'm not going to dismiss them because they might be able to search without their original birth certificates. While the pure issue of an adopted person's civil right cries out for justice for all--no birth mother vetoes!--I am left with the haunting sense that this leads to hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of adopted people whose search will have no end, whose lives will have no answers.

Anonymous said...

Anon (6.08 am) said only 1% percent of people eligilble to file vetoes in Ontario have done so.
That doesn't fit with the numbers quoted here, though they are so extraordinarily high they may be Funny Figures:

http://www.ontla.on.ca/house-proceedings/transcripts/files_pdf/05-NOV-2009_L185.pdf


"As of August 17, 2009, the ministry had received
6,505 applications for disclosure vetoes from adopted persons or birth parents who prefer to keep their personal information private.
The ministry also received 1,500 applications from people who agreed to allow information regarding their cases to be shared but requested that they
not be contacted by the other party. The ministry also received 2,100 applications from people indicating their contact preferences."

Amanda said...

I am speaking both as an individual and as the head of an Adoptee Rights organization in Pennsylvania who is currently supporting a 100% clean access bill, opposing a 100% dirty access bill, and trying to work with another absolutely mind-bendingly questionable third bill. As a member of my organization, I'd have to go with what the majority of my organization wanted when it came to what we support and what we don't support.

However, as an individual, and as an adoptee that had to use the horrible TN Confidential Intermediary system, I will not actively support a bill that violates the rights of Adult Adoptees. Confidential Intermediaries, passive registries, and the like do not address the rights of Adult Adoptees to be treated equally. It is continual submission to oppression in being shoved into a subordinate class. You're right, no one has gone back and fixed Tennessee. I've asked some fellow reformers if they want to try with me but they are either consumed with work in their own states or they respond "TN is lightyears ahead of everyone else! Other States need more help than they do." If you get stuck in this rut, you will NOT get out.

I would not support conditional racial segregation. I would not support conditional freedoms of slaves. I would not support conditional voting rights of women. I would not support conditional rights of individuals who are disabled from accessing public buildings safely--Civil Rights issues should have NO condition. Civil Rights are Civil Rights and Human Rights are Human Rights. I would not support conditional access to OBCs based on disability, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation--again Civil Rights issues should have NO condition. Why are adoptees willing to accept being treated differently so long as it's "slightly better than before," when NO one would put up with the same nonsense based on any other attribute? Why do we let our Civil Rights issue be less important than the others? Do we deep down in our hearts believe that we don't deserve access?

Like I said, Civil Rights are Civil Rights and Human Rights are Human Rights--the very second you compromise you admit (and set precedence in other states) that you are LESS human and LESS American than anyone else. TN's crappy system is impacting us here in PA. Crappy legislation passed anywhere impacts adoptees EVERYWHERE.

While I understand some people may not be able to stomach the idea of abandoning a bill that would allow access to at least *some* what I would do is not support the bill or oppose it either, I would just leave it. I'm unsure of how one promotes a bill with compromises one year and then walks back into the assembly of legislators the next year arguing for clean access. If you were willing to compromise before, why would they ever give you anything other than a compromise afterward?

Amanda said...

I also agree with d28bob, we cannot mention medical history (which usually implies searching and asking her for it) or reunion because the first things legislators say is "OK, you can have your OBC if your mother wants to be found" which means that OBCs become accessible upon the condition of someone wanting to be "found" and not because adoptees have a right to be treated like everyone else. We also have to avoid using the "c" word (child) because people think these bills impact children and the word "child" naturally implies someone is already incapable or subordinate. It's no wonder adoptees can't be taken seriously; we're perpetual "children." And the abortion topic is definitely something we have to battle daily which is rediculous because adoption and abortion have 0 to do with one another.

I also do not agree that Contact Vetos are even a "compromise." Forcing adoptees to trade in their rights as free persons in order to access their right to their OBC is worse than no access at all. Legally binding contact vetos are a worse Civil Rights issue than not having an OBC, in my opinion. A Contact Veto is a priori restraining order without just cause, due process, and where the only "crime" one has committed is being issued a decree of adoption. I've had a veto (you get one whether your mother wants you to have one or not in TN) and it's extremely expensive, stressful and time consuming to get it off. It caused my First Mother to lose 15lbs and aggrivate her already serious medical condition. Open access is more respectful to all parties involved than the government hunting down a First Mother, forcing a restraining order on her descendent and then making it her responsibility to try to get it off. No one's "privacy" is respected with these intermediaries--no one's. All of this when the birth certificate belongs to the person who was born anyway--period. Lord knows there are plenty of other non-adoption situations where a mother might not want anything to do with her descendents. Yet only in adoption can normal statues within state laws for privacy and protection be bipassed for immediate restraints and binds when an adoptee has done nothing wrong but be adopted. Unacceptable. I am not a criminal!

Michelle said...

I sent this out yesterday:


From: Michelle Harrison
Date: Wed, May 19, 2010 at 9:10 AM
Subject: OPPOSITION TO SB 2759/H7877
To: sen-blais@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-levesque@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-maher@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-miller@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-perry@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-pichardo@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-sheehan@rilin.state.ri.us, sen-sosnowski@rilin.state.ri.us

I am a psychiatrist.
I am an adoptive mother
I founded an orphanage in India for girls who have been rejected for adoption, for various reasons.

Adoption is the only circumstance where a person is committed to live out decisions made about him/her without consent. There are consequences to relinquishment and abandonment and forcible losing of a child -- but ONLY the adoptee is forced to carry the shame, the denial of access to heritage. There are full grown adults, living in a world that stresses heritage, ethnicity, genetics -- and yet denied information about all of that. We see online, in ads everywhere, "Research your family history, genealogy" but the adoptee must forever be in the dark. Some adoptees don't care. But for others it is a lifetime of living in an abyss. For some the "not knowing" results in a lifetime of uncertainty about identity. Whatever the answers, the unknowing, when information EXISTS and is being withheld, prevents the adoptee from finding resolution. You can't make peace with reality if no one will tell you what is real.

In adoption, everyone else gets what they "want," except the child. The birthing family gets rid of the "intruder" and I say family because often the mother herself does not want to give up the child. The adoptive family gets the child they want. Along the way someone makes some, or a lot of money. The child gets what others THINK is best, but we can't know that. And when the adult adoptee tells us their pain and what they want, we ignore them.

Adoptees often have three simultaneous lines of fantasy; "My mother is a princess, actress, famous person," and, "I am the product of rape or some similar theme" and "They just didn't want ME," as a sense of being personally rejected, or not good enough. There is a very simply way to give the adoptee the ability to put his/her head in order on this, called access to information.

"Who am I" is the most fundamental question we all ask about ourselves. Ask yourself.

Sincerely,
Dr. Michelle Harrison
Citizen of US, NY State
current address:
Shishur Sevay
17/2/7 Sahapur Main Road
Kolkata, West Bengal 700038

maryanne said...

Lorraine said:"-I am left with the haunting sense that this leads to hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of adopted people whose search will have no end, whose lives will have no answers."

This seems a bit of exaggeration. First of all, not all adoptees want to search or will ever request their OBC even where they can. The states that have open records certainly do not have 100% of adopted adults requesting their OBC, or I suspect, even a majority. The point is that they should be able to,with no restrictions, not how many want to or what they do with the information when they get it.

Many people have their obc or the information contained on it and are still unable to find their original families, due to that information being false or insufficient for a successful search.

For most searchers the OBC is not the key or the thing that makes the difference between finding and not finding. A few, yes, but certainly not "hundreds, thousands or millions" who actually try to search and are unable to only because of OBC access. That argument is very weak.

ElaineP said...

All Or Nothing has got us a whole lot of nothing.... Wasted decades....

I can't even go out to dinner with my family without compromise. I couldn't continue to be married without compromise. I couldn't keep my friends without compromise. I can't raise my kids without compromise. Could you imagine how we wouldn't get anything done - ever - if everyone was No Compromise.

Cedar said...

I see open records legislation passing all over Canada, one province after another opening, and I then see how things are stalled in most States in the U.S.

Yes, we have "compromise" legislation up here, but this is working.

The thing about open records is that you can NOT say it is not about reunion unless you poll those people in open records provinces/states who have gotten their records and find out from them whether or not they used them for search/reunion purposes. People DO use them to find their lost family members. If it often next to impossible to find anyone without having their name!

I find it puzzling why open records campaigns in the U.S. are focused solely on one-way open records. Only for adoptees, and natural parents are expected to support this campaign.

Here in Canada, open records means that both adoptees and natural parents can apply for both the ABC and OBC. There is no discrimination, and you get both sides working together on legislation that will benefit both. Why not in the U.S.? Do natural mothers in the U.S. feel that unworthy, shameful, and guilt-ridden that they feel they have no rights?

Anonymous said...

"The thing about open records is that you can NOT say it is not about reunion."

You can, if you believe every citizen has the right to their OBC. Reunion may or may not result as a consequence.

But primarily it's about equal access, which means restoring the right of adopted people to their original unaltered birth certificates.
The same right their non-adopted fellow citizens take for granted.

It's not a privilege. It's a right.
THAT'S why vetoes are unacceptable.

Anon2 said...

"Anon May 20, 2010 3:18" wrote: "restoring the right of adopted people to their original unaltered birth certificates."

Courts ruled that there is no such thing as "adoptee rights" as a right that exists in law or can be upheld in court.

The two court cases that established this was (1) In 1975, an adoptee rights group called "Yesterday's Children" filed a federal class action suit to open records, claiming Constitutional rights under the First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated - they lost with the court deciding it was a state issue not a constitutional issue. Then (2) in 1977, ALMA filed a lawsuit in the New York courts to open records in NY state. They lost.

The argument against open records being an "equal access" issue re adoptees vs. non-adoptees is that both adoptees and non-adoptees DO have equal access to their birth records. The official birth record of adoptees state that their adoptive parents gave birth to them. Under the "As If Born To" principle of Western child adoption laws, any other birth document is null and void.

Regina said...

I know who my first mother. I do not have my OBC. I will probably not get it if the bill in RI goes through and I am okay with that. Sometimes we have to put others first rather than thinking of ourselves. Would I like my OBC ? Sure I would like it. But I support the RI bill because I know a majority of adoptees will be able to get their OBC. Right now no one gets anything. I love what one older adoptee said at the committee meeting, she is in her early 70s, "Getting my original birth certificate is on my bucket list".

Will she be able to wait 10, 20, 30years to get access to her OBC. Maybe yes, maybe no. Time waits for no one. It keeps passing by. Why not do what we can now to benefit the majority?

I totally understand what eveyone else is saying. Do I like the bill with its disclosure veto? No, it rots to tell you the truth. My desire would be that all adoptees would have access to their OBC. Here in Lil Rhody that does not seem likely to happen. The wheels of change move quite slowly around here.

I want everyone to know that I am committed to revisting this bill if it passes into law. I will not stop until everyone has access to their OBC. I hope that as adoptees we can all understand each other and be reasonable with one another. I think we need to remember that we are all on the same team. We have the ultimate goal of everyone having access to their OBC. But for now, it may take some incremental steps to reach that goal.

Anonymous said...

So, the courts don't believe in Adoptee Rights? Well, I don't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or my Amended Birth Certificate.

Null and Void? My @ss.

ElaineP said...

I guess I'm surprised that Anonymous KNOWS the answers because so far it's been ineffective. Whenever someone is so hardline, I wonder. When someone knows all the answers when I don't even know all the questions, it makes me leery.

I wonder if there were slaves who said, 'if we can't get equal and full rights as to any white man, we'd rather stay slaves.' Everything is a process...

But, I don't have all the answers, obviously some of you think you do.... I guess that's good.

Anonymous said...

We passed in the House and got shot down in the Senate. The house passed us again this year with the compromises so the Senate will pass the bill, the other adoptees will not be forgotten as Regina stated. THEY will not be forgotten and left behind. We will continue to fight the fight for them. The politics here in RI are not like those in other states, i guess you have to live here to understand that. If we dont compromise, no one will ever get anything and there will never be anything gained. Its funny how this is all just coming to light, no one made any mention of this last year, and last year we were just as public if not more with the Providence Journel and Radio Interviews.. but no one was around to support our CLEAN bill but now that we have compromised there is alot of jumping on a band wagon and its pretty disheartening thats for sure.

Anonymous said...

Anon2 must be the ghosts of Bill Pierce and Ruby Lee Piester

BD said...

Anon2: have you been living in a cave since 1975: Courts have found that “birthparents do not have any legal expectation of anonymity.” (Doe v Sundquist, 943 F. Supp. 886, 893-94 (M.D. Tenn. 1996)) (06 F.3d 703, 705 (6th Cir. 1997)) (Does v Oregon, Summary Judgment Oregon State Court of Appeals) (Does v. State of Oregon, 164 Or.App. 543, 993 P.2d 833, 834 (1999)).

BD said...

Thanks Nancy for your very strong, clear explication of RI. It's good to see someone of your caliber posting on this.

It is very frustrating to see so many people with good intent, screw RI adoptees and adoptees all over the country with this whack-brained bill. States DO look to other states to see what they are doing. No doubt we'll soon have veto bills letting cousins, teachers ,and neighbors file vetoes, too.

Patience can be a virtue in politics. I am still stunned that some people believe "my state is different" and "we'll come back." Of cousre, every state is "different." Has different histories and circumstances, but legislators are the same. They have personal agendas. They are owned by special interests. They avoid controversy,they backstab and backscratch. They respect strength; they do not respect wishy-washiness. Their bottom line is re-electibility.

The RI folks claim they will come back to pick up the rest. They can "come back" all they want, but that doesn't mean they will pick up anyone. You can knock on the door every year, but no one has to answer. We've been trying to change Ohio for over 40 years and records not only remain sealed for post 1963 adoptees, but the veto enacted in 1995 makes it impossible to get a clean bill here. Ever.

If passed, the RI bill with its vetoes, will create a vested substantive right for those who have filed a veto that cannot be removed no matter how hard TRACE or anyone else tries. If by chance a new bill would be enacted that removes the veto, those who have been blacklisted will remain black listed unless the parent or extended family member removes the veto.

A right is a right; not a privilege. Bills like RI, NJ, MO, MI, etc seek for some adoptees to get their rights back at the expense of others.

Records access is class warfare, not individual privilege.

Lori said...

It's strange. I can and would get my daughter's OBC for her. I told her I would. Her response was this "would it make a difference? It is not a legal document anymore and while it is a sweet thought, it is not something I care about."

As I considered this, and this discussion I remembered something my father once told me when I was being particularly bossy and annoying and would not listen. He said "open mouths and closed minds are the bane of humanity. Shut your mouth, open your mind and become an asset."

Now, since I have no real stake in this, since I know my daughter is mine and have never had the secrecy or whatever other have, when I think about it and read all these posts, I feel sad.

There are thousands of mothers who will, because of all the lovely hardliners who are taking something that could be simple and making it hard, never find out if their children ever made it out of childhood. There are children who are in their golden years who have no idea who they are.

Life is a compromise. It is a balance between emotion and logic. Poverty and riches. Foolish and Intelligent.

If we, as a group, continue to battle over things that, in reality, may be helpful in the long run, well, then we are fools.

So, you think it is about rights - why? It isn't about rights - its about knowing who you are - that is not a right. That is the responsibility of the parents. To teach. That includes adoptive parents and first parents.

For an adoptee to say that they want their OBC just so they can say this was my mother is like saying that the drunk buying the huge bottle of booze is just wanting to show that they don't drink.

I know, I was that person, wanting to know, searching, looking, and waiting.

I think, truly, that OBC's should be a standard part of the adoption papers. No changes. But the adoption papers be the defining statement of custody - not ownership.

As long as we piss around with things like "hardlines" and disagreements that are so embittered that people become rude or ugly, there is no way anyone, especially politicians who, and we all know this, live in a world that is a politely violent confusion of belief, money, power and lobbying for position.

Who really listens to someone who is unwilling to listen?

Come on - Just because the crazys on the street corner no longer attack you with portents of doom, doesn't mean that some of us don't remember how we all pitied them for their behavior.

We are the street corner crazies - get it - we fight, yell, argue and most of it is internal. It is with the very people that need to put aside their differences and stand for their actual sameness - their need.

Ya know, I give up - even here, with Lorraine trying to make a point that there several generations getting past the waiting point, there are still the people with closed minds and open mouths.

You worry about not going back and picking out the stumps, make that your personal quest - not trying to force an ignorant public to force hard headed politicians to do what you want.

Sigh ....what a waste.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous May 20, 11:58 AM

I stand by what I said.
The figure I gave is correct.

You don’t seem to realise how many closed adoptions there were in Ontario nor how the system works, so let me show you.

First of all, you can remove the contact preference figure as that is not a veto of any kind - this is only stating how the person would like to be contacted such as by e-mail or post. The information is still given (OBC) and contact can be made.

Secondly, the contact veto still allows people information but the other party does not wish to be contacted. The adoptee still gets their OBC.

The contact veto also allows other information to go through, such as medical history.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought in a democracy, people can decide with whom they want to have a relationship with.

That only leaves the disclosure veto from 6,505 – roughly half are from adoptees and half are from parents (primarily mothers as the government has removed 90 percent of fathers names because unwed mothers had “immaculate conceptions” didn’t you know!)

The other 10 percent of fathers of closed adoptions are mainly those who were married to the mother or the very, very rare unwed father who managed to escape the dreaded white-out of the Registrar General. This is an issue that I am fighting at the moment.

Do you know how many adoptions there were in Ontario?
Over a quarter of a million.

That means that there are approx.
3 quarters of a million people who are eligible for the disclosure veto.

Now the math

6,505 vetoes (disclosure - no info at all for either adoptee or parent) out of a possible 750,000
(that would be all adoptees and both parents) is
0.867333333 percent

If you are looking at it from purely the parent (mainly mother) disclosure veto on information, then that number would be approx.
3252 (number of parent disclosure vetoes against adoptees) out of 250,000 (which is the approx number of closed adoptions in Ontario)
then the figure is 1.308 percent.

I stand by what I said – the number is correct.

BTW – if the father is not named on the OBC, then he cannot apply for a disclosure veto. This applies to over 90 percent of fathers.

If I am wrong, please tell everyone here as to how you came to your conclusion.

I would be most interested in seeing how you do your maths.

Anonymous said...

To those that say that reunion has nothing to do with the records - I'm afraid that I will have to disagree with you on that one.

I run a search group and many have *not* been able to find without their information.

I have helped with a number of reunions that were only able to occur with the opening of the records. These people would still be stonewalled in their search if the Ontario government had not opened the records up.

Many see open records as the *only* way that they will find.

Lucky are you who were able to find without them. Tell that to those who are still trying to find and can't get even a shred of useable information without their records.

earth mother said...

Earlier I said: "We" just didn't want to wait for the opposition to leave office... even though they had barely squeaked out a win in the last election . I was willing to wait...and work on their defeat.

And here we are two days later with the stunning announcement that the lead opposition to unrestricted access for the past 18 years here in RI, Senator Lenihan, is NOT running for reelection in November. We would not have had to even work for his defeat. He apparently gave his pathetic nod to a B/Parent veto to insure that a clean bill would not pass after he left. Yet, are the RI "reformers" pulling the veto bill now before it's chipped into granite? After waiting all these years to rid the RI General Assembly of powerful adoptive parents intent on keeping information from their adult children we COULD BE now on the brink of success.....yet RI presses forward with a veto bill rather than have the patience to resubmit a clean bill next year. These veto's that will be in place will never be able to be undone when they came back for the stumps they left behind. We all know that most veto's are submitting right in the beginning and dwindle off over time.

As Amanda said "I'm unsure of how one promotes a bill with compromises one year and then walks back into the assembly of legislators the next year arguing for clean access. If you were willing to compromise before, why would they ever give you anything other than a compromise afterward?"

I'm not sure of this either----if anyone has an inkling of what the arguments will be I'd sure like to hear them.
But I am absolutly 100% sure of one thing, the 1% destined to be left behind with a life long veto in place deserves a new consideration of this compromise bill before it's too late.

Carolc said...

Ok, into the frying pan I go...

I admit to being one of those people who is on the fence about compromise around this issue. On an intellectual and even humane level and as someone who has been involved in a couple of state's unsuccessful attempts at equal access for adoptees; it's very, very tempting to want to allow a majority of adoptees in a state to have access to their OBC just to get some kind of progressive change.

The alternative as some have suggested, results as in year after year of going to the well, fighting for adoptee's rights and coming back empty handed because no one is willing to compromise. And then risk having sponsors of the bill get elected out of office and again starting over.

As a first mother I feel it's appropriate to defer to adoptees on this issue. ThiS IS about their rights - not reunion or mother's rights, and to have a totally clean bill pass, their rights and the concerns of no others has to be the agenda. That is a totally clean bill. But I have adoptee friends on both sides of the compromise fence and I don't listen to only one point of view in forming my own.

I have been in advertising sales for many years and learned a long time ago that even if a business owner won't buy my entire recommendation for an ad campaign, it behooves me to at least get my foot in the door, let them start small and then attempt to do what we call "upselling". It doesn't always work but if I've done my homework, built relationships based on trust with my clients - they often eventually come to consider and choose other recommendations that I've made. It's a process - everything in life is a process.

As arachaic as the USA is, I don't believe it's possible to always have this be a black and white issue. So I admit to having supported some states with contact preferences (which isn't totally a clean bill) and even in a couple of cases contact vetos, as much as I find them appalling. That's because I have seen the reformers work hard over the years in the trenches, in their state and I've trusted their judgement if they say this is all they can get at this time.

Perhaps it's naive, but I do believe that it's possible to go back and get more down the road, as is being done in Canada. Just because it hasn't been done yet doesn't mean that as awareness heightens, that more rights can be negotiated. Every state here has it's own unique culture and makeup of legislators. when after time and experience, one learns it is impossible to change their minds about "first mother privacy issues", my gut instinct says to take what can benefit the most adoptees right now.

Yes, I'm talking in circles because this is a convaluted mess in many states; and it's impressive that Amanda and team have gotten this far with a totally clean bill in my state of Pennsylvania and abhorrant what is happening in Illinois; I honestly can't say that I won't support compromise in others. I trust those on the ground and in the trenchs like Bob in MO when they are the ones most familiar with the culture of their state.

triona said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what Amanda and BD said. I will not support a bill with a disclosure veto. Those who are blacklisted stay blacklisted. I am one of the "few" subject to Illinois' disclosure veto. Even if we manage to get the legislators to revisit adoptee rights (which is a battle in and of itself), those of us who are already vetoed will likely remain so. I am also black-holed by Ohio's sandwich law (I was born in Illinois but adopted in Ohio).

I used to believe in compromise legislation until I became a member of that "tiny minority." It doesn't seem very minor when not only do you have to fight legislators for your rights, but your fellow members of the adoption community who expect you to sacrifice yourself so others can have access. What makes one person more deserving of access than another? As Anonymous said, I wouldn't want mine if it meant denying someone else theirs. I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror knowing I had consigned someone else to the black hole.

Equal rights mean nothing if they are turned into special favors granted by the state. All adult adoptees should be able to access their OBCs in the same manner as the non-adopted, without exception.

Illinois HB 5428 will be signed into law today, meaning more adoptees consigned to the black hole. I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone and I am very upset that there are people celebrating this as a "win" for adoptees. Some of those very people may wind up vetoed and only then will they understand what a lonely, humiliating place it is. And when you support conditional legislation, you never know if you yourself might wind up in that place.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Just a thank you here for that incredible breakdown of the stats from Ontario.

If you are looking at it from purely the parent (mainly mother) disclosure veto on information, then that number would be approx.
3252 (number of parent disclosure vetoes against adoptees) out of 250,000 (which is the approx number of closed adoptions in Ontario)
then the figure is 1.308 percent.

ElaineP said...

of course this is class warfare... if we were all millionaires, there wouldn't even be an issue... if our firstmothers were all rich, most of them would not have surrendered their baby...

my issue has been simply the government lying to my face and pretending that they're not. If my ABC said 'amended' on it, I doubt I would be that offended because that would be the truth. It's the government packaging lies as the truth that bothers me, but I guess they do that a lot, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Elaine, while I respect the sincerity of those who would accept compromise, it is not extreme - as you would appear to think it is - to find contact vetoes unacceptable.

Even with these so-called reforms, adoptees are still being treated as second class citizens.
I do not feel your comparison to slavery is apt because, even though there are parallels that can be drawn, slavery and adoption are very different types of institutions.
Slavery is abuse per se, whereas adoption is open to abuse. Chattel slavery gave slaves NO rights whatsoever. Unlike adoptees, they were possessions in every conceivable respect. Slaves were NEVER citizens - of any class - but belonged body and soul to their masters were entirely subject to the their owners' vagaries as well as excluded from protection by the law.

The situation of adopted people is very different. At the age of majority they (ostensibly anyway) become full citizens just like their fellow Americans, and are entitled to the same rights and privileges - which, not coincidentally, includes their birthRIGHT.
It is now a recognized human right to have ownership of one's family history and deserves be recognized as a civil right too.
Denying citizens who have committed no crime the right to meet and make themselves known to members of their original family IS discriminatory. There are already laws in place to deal with harassment. Contact vetoes create a new category of criminality.
Compromise on this is a subjection that capitulates to the status quo and subverts progress.
'Dirty' laws do not get revisited fast if ever, because they become precedent.
Clearly, in answer to Lorraine's question, I tend towards the "no reform at all" camp.

Sandy Young said...

The laws become increasingly convoluted, and difficult to understand let alone navigate. The Illinois one for example was 74 pages printed. They are merely lies upon lies, to protect lies that were told and the liars that told them.

To me, it seems that the only really feasible and equitable way to have this issue addressed for all parties, would be to Repeal on a national level all laws that create or protect a fraudulent Vital Public Record, something that is a theft of medical history and identity of the mothers as well as the adoptee.

Some mothers did not agree to the adoption of their children, some did. But, I warrant that few if any agreed to the fraudulent assumption of their identity and medical history that is what the Amended Birth Certificate is.

ElaineP said...

I guess I'm different than a lot of adoptees -- my issue has been that the government didn't even have the decency to put Amended on my birth certificate. If they put 'Amended' on my b/c, gave me the finger and said, 'we ain't telling you...' I can accept that. Giving me an ABC and pretending it's an OBC when it's not...

I'm not surprised nor shocked that the government seals records -- I think that's done a lot -- in a lot of government areas, not just here. They'll all be open in 100 years. That's when the archives opens them.

I will most likely be one of the ones left behind -- and I'm okay with that. I'll stay behind so many can go forward. I don't know the IL soon-to-be law, but it's up to the individual state to craft a law that acceptable for their citizens. Since this isn't a federal issue, I don't have a voice in IL, nor *should* they pay attention to me, being an out-of-state non-voter.

P.S. And, I think my arguments are very relevant :)

Cedar said...

" There are thousands of mothers who will, because of all the lovely hardliners who are taking something that could be simple and making it hard, never find out if their children ever made it out of childhood. "


And even if records opened for adoptees, many (most?) of these mothers would still not know if their child was alive or dead.

Isn't this enough reason for a lobby to begin to secure open records for mothers as well?

It was considered sufficient cause (along with thousands of mothers writing to politicians and testifying about stolen babies and coerced surrenders) in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland, and the Yukon -- and Quebec and Manitoba are next in line.

maryanne said...

I am so disgusted over IL signing a terribly deformed bill into law, and all these other bad bills popping up like warts all over the country. This has really made me understand the term "Adoption Deformer" used by some to describe the people who push these bills.

What is deformed?

The notion that convoluted compromise bills are "fair" and consider the "conflicting rights" of adoptees and birhparents. This ignores the fact that birthparents gave up ALL rights around the adoptee when they signed a surrender. There are no "conflicting rights" until deformed bills with vetoes write them into law. Some deformers have the nerve to say bad bills are "better" than clean ones, and to eagerly offer to advertise them far and wide so closet mommies can file their vetoes!

What is deformed?

The "we will fix it next year" delusion. Yes, your group may come back year after year in an attempt to fix a bad bill, only to find that the legislators have lost all interest. "We already addressed that issue" will be their answer for many years to come. No Deformed bill that passed has EVER been fixed. There are NO "baby steps", just one big step over a cliff for those adoptees left behind by deformed bills.

What is deformed?

The "adoptee's (sic) are dyin'" argument that mixes medical records and sentimental reunions with open records. This leads directly to unworkable schemes to extort medical information from mothers who do not wish contact, and medical registries rather than adoptee rights. "After all, isn't medical history you greatest concern?" says Mr Legislator?

What is deformed?

"My state is DIFFERENT" hence only deformed legislation can pass here, and it is all our opposition's fault. All states are different, but in those where deformed legislation has been introduced it has been fought just as vigorously as clean legislation by our usual enemies, NCFA, the Catholic Bishops, ACLU, Right To Life, LDS etc. Deformed legislation does not appease our opponents. Deformed legislation comes not from them, but from "our side", Deformers who are all to eager to lie down and concede rights in the hope of getting something/anything passed.

What is deformed?

"It helps the majority, only 1% left behind." First of all, nobody really knowns what percentage of adoptees will be blacklisted in any given scheme, so the numbers thrown around are suspect. On the other hand, Deformers have an "if it saves just one" mentality about legislation that makes it easier for any percentage of adoptees to get records and search, because search is really all they are about, not rights.

When you are the one barred from getting your records because of the year you were born
falling into a black hole, or because of a veto. it is cold comfort that the majority got theirs, and it is NOT A RIGHT. It is permission from Mommy, insulting to adopted adults and to birthmothers who see their grown children as autonomous adults.

Yes, I am disgusted by Deformers. With friends like that we do not need enemies.

Anonymous said...

"Do you know how many adoptions there were in Ontario?
Over a quarter of a million."

That's over a period of 80 years. A lot of those people are already dead.

Michelle said...

Cedar wrote: "I see open records legislation passing all over Canada, one province after another opening, and I then see how things are stalled in most States in the U.S."

"Yes, we have "compromise" legislation up here, but this is working."

What's working with the compromise? Are those with vetos attached to their files getting their documents?

I wouldn't say that records are open in Ontario, Newfoundland, Alberta and British Columbia. What these provinces did was amend legislation to allow access for some by including a disclosure/anonymity veto proviso.

To identify a jurisdiction as 'Open records'where a disclosure veto is an option is misleading, as it indicates birth certificates and amended birth certificates are obtainable by all persons effected by sealed records laws. These provinces have prejudiced adoption dislcosure legislation, not open records.

maybe said...

Quoting Sandy: ..."it seems that the only really feasible and equitable way to have this issue addressed for all parties, would be to repeal on a national level all laws that create or protect a fraudulent Vital Public."

Amen to that! But since APs have all the power in adoption I don't ever see this happening. They love the amended BC becasue it provides a synthetic birth connetion. Ironic that they need a document to fake a birth connection while screaming at the top of their lungs that birth connections don't matter.

Regarding all the other activism around release of OBCs, I no longer have any interest in fighting The Man, who is really working on behalf of APs. If adoptees ever manage to get APs on board in this fight, then I might be interested. Until then it's really a waste of my time since APs call all the shots.

Good luck.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Amen to that! But since APs have all the power in adoption I don't ever see this happening. They love the amended BC becasue it provides a synthetic birth connection. Ironic that they need a document to fake a birth connection while screaming at the top of their lungs that birth connections don't matter.

Maybe:

The best most succinct commentary on this--the hypocrisy of the "amended" birth certificate argument....and then how birth connections do not matter.

ElaineP said...

The "No Compromisers" have had decades, half a century and got very little done. A lot of name calling and a lot of shouting -- isn't the definition of insanity repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different result?

No Compromisers -- get the Bills on the table! The proof is in the pudding -- get them to a vote.

Yes, a lot of adoptees have died before getting their OBC because NOTHING has been done in the past half-century. We are finally getting things done -- I'm not sorry that it's not exactly how you want it done. If this had been taken care of decades ago, we wouldn't need to compromise.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Does anybody know what the situation in France is? Are original birth certificates always available? Need information, please help.

maryanne said...

Don't know a lot about it, but France has long had anonymous births
"sous X" meaning that pregnant women can sign themselves into the hospital as Ms. X and no information is ever released.

This gets around open records just like baby dump Safe Havens do here, as there are no records to open. Have no idea what happens with identified adoptions there.

Lori said...

Lorraine, I found this under adoption in France:

http://www.adoptionpolicy.org/pdf/eu-france.pdf

It site laws, conditions and requirements of adoption. What I find interesting is that French law requires that there be no family past the sixth blood degree for adoption of infants. Also, that there are two kinds of adoption - one where they child is adopted like in the US - with very rigerous requirements (as far as the child being available) and the other would leave the child their name and their nationality and inheritance rights - for both families. The second is a requirement for older children.

It's actually rather interesting, but I am still looking for records laws. Only one form of adoption there does anything regarding records.

Lori Trevino

Anonymous said...

I don't think France has ever had sealed records.
They do have the appalling Accouchement sous X (right to anonymous birth) laws though.

ElaineP said...

Looks like I have a date to testify against fmom's husband in front of the NJ Assembly. IL's controversial Bill was signed by their Governor. Looks like NJ is next... Now it makes sense why the NJ Governor's Counsel Office called me and talked to me for over an hour....

Ray said...

If my Birth Mother was not open to compromise, I probably would had been aborted.

Edmund Burke said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter."

Virginia said...

Further clarification re French adoption:

Basically, in France there are two types of adoption: simple and plenary (or "full"). Simple adoptions are similar to open adoptions here, only in some ways more so (retain biological surname, rights of inheritance, access to records, etc..... unless confidentiality was requested), while plenary adoptions are your basic closed adoptions, complete with blocked OBC.

http://www.adoptionpolicy.org/pdf/eu-france.pdf

http://www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/family_law_and_children%27s_rights/Documents/CJFAGT1%282003%2931e.pdf

The link above contains the following:

In full adoption the provisions governing access to public records give adopted and adopting persons access to official documents (full copies of birth certificates) that mention the adoption but not the identity of the original parents.

In simple adoption the identity of the original parents may appear on these documents as there is no termination of the connection with the biological family. However, persons with no legitimate interest do not have access to documents mentioning adoption (full or simple) or the identity of the original parents. The child has access to all the documents in his or her administrative file, upon request if the child is of age, otherwise via his or her legal representative. The identity of the biological parents is not disclosed if they formally requested confidentiality at the time of the birth and have not officially retracted that request.

In full adoption the adoptee is fully integrated into the adopter’s family, on the same footing as a legitimate child. Connections with the biological family are terminated once and for all.

I had to really dig to find the info above, but the French appear to be just as schizophrenic about adoption as we are.

maryanne said...

Ray wrote:"If my Birth Mother was not open to compromise, I probably would had been aborted."

That is a ridiculous statement. Do you know that your mother even considered abortion? Many of us did not, whether it was legal or not, and many women obtained illegal abortions prior to it being legalized.

Not having an abortion was NOT a "compromise" for me, because it was something I would not even think about unless I had been raped which I was not. I was in a loving consensual relationship and wanted my child to be born, and wanted to keep him, but circumstances and lack of courage intervened.

Unless your own mother has told you that not having an abortion was a compromise for her, please do not make such a statement, and certainly do not apply it to other surrendering mothers.

As to legislation, you can compromise on privileges or permission or on gifts granted for favors received, but you cannot compromise on rights. Either something is a right for whole class of people with no exceptions, or it is not a right at all. So please stop saying the kind of legislation passed in IL and pending in other states has anything to do with adoptee RIGHTS because it does not.

Anonymous said...

For those who may be interested, here's Quebec's Draft Bill for the Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and parental authority:

http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/
consultation/doc-consultation-a.pdf

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at May 22 7:53 AM

What is the point you are trying to make?

Of course some people are dead. That would be true even if the closed records laws were half or even a quarter of that age.

That would be true of any law anywhere in the world.

The 1 percent figure still stands from the figures that are available.

If you know how many are dead in Ontario that are affected by this, then please let the list know, because I sure can't find it!

BTW - I know people who were adopted 80 years ago who have just reunited with their families and their siblings. People can live a long time.

Anonymous said...
"Do you know how many adoptions there were in Ontario?
Over a quarter of a million."

That's over a period of 80 years. A lot of those people are already dead.

May 22, 2010 7:53 AM

Anonymous said...

One other point about dead people in Ontario.

If the person is dead, they cannot file a disclosure veto!

Anonymous said...

Re: French law

It helps to understand the reason why Law X was created.

It was passed in France in 1941 during World War 2.

A fair number of French women were made pregnant by Nazi soldiers.

http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/born-under-the-x-french-law-guarantees-anonymous-childbirth-2.html

There was a large shame factor on the mothers in this situation. They were not just unwed - they were made pregnant by the enemy and their children would have been viewed as the "spawn of Satan" scenario which is the reason why they kept that law after the war.

However, it is not clear why they are keeping this law today.

I understand that the law is being challenged in the European Court but I don't know how far along that is.

Anonymous said...

Lorraine - I thought you would be interested in this.

In France, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Norway and Israel, adoption records have never been closed.

(from Adoption.com)

Also, in Islam, it is considered to be deception to change the name of a child. You are never an adoptor, only a guardian to any child that you have not given birth to. The child keeps their original name. Ontario law was changed to accommodate this, so now there are official special guardianships where the child's name is not changed.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Dear everyone who helped with the French question (and all the other information gathered here)--to help me with my response to a "friend" of mine who has never met an adoption that did not turn out beautifully (at least for the adopting people) and can I sometimes call them adopters for shorthand reasons? or is that synonymous with them calling us...er, birthers? yes, I suppose it is...

Thanks also anon for the list of countries that never had closed records and the explanation of the Islam position.

Anonymous said...

Lorraine - I found out more about the European court case in regards to the French X law.

Sadly, the European court ruled against the petitioners who wanted the X law overturned.

France and Luxembourg are the only European countries to offer this degree of anonymity in a hospital birth.

Italy and Greece also have laws allowing concealed identity, but search is permitted.

Germany has a program similar to U.S. "safe haven" programs.

Here is a bit more information on that.
http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/born-under-the-x-french-law-guarantees-anonymous-childbirth.html

Anonymous said...

"If the person is dead, they cannot file a disclosure veto!"
So true, Anon. Excellent thinking.
And if they are an adoptee they cannot apply for their OBC either.

I have also often wondered how many mothers who want total anonymity don't file vetoes because they are so deep in the closet they won't even come out?
I guess that's something else we'll never know.
There's no reliable way of calculating these things.

Of course giving adopted people unfettered access to their records would make much of this kind of speculation redundant :)

earth mother said...

Anonymous said...
One other point about dead people in Ontario.

If the person is dead, they cannot file a disclosure veto!

May 24, 2010 6:34 AM

HA! That may be true in Ontario but here in RI , we have pending legislation that will allow a host of OTHER folks to file a "no release" form on behalf of the dead B/Parent. We propose to allow parents and adult sibs of deceased B/Parents to deny OBC access to the requesting adult adoptee.

The "close" personal relationship to the deceased B/Parent apparently matters not. Relations from EITHER B/Parent can stop the release of the OBC to the requesting adoptee. I'm not even clear HOW the Div of Vital records will confirm "who" the person IS who files the "no release" form....step-parents? estranged (spiteful) sibs etc?)

Anyone here think this could become muddier than the mighty Mississippi?

Eeesh..another benefit of a clean bill.

Anonymous said...

Earth Mother said Rhode Island proposes "to allow parents and adult sibs of deceased B/Parents to deny OBC access to the requesting adult adoptee."

Oh, man! That's beyond Twilight Zone.

maryanne said...

Earth Mother is right about the Rhode Island bill. It gives many relatives of the surrendering mother the opportunity to file a veto "for" her. The current bad bill in NJ tries to extort medical information from mothers who do not wish to be found in exchange for not giving the adoptee the mother's name on the OBC.
This bit is just asking for lawsuits.

Look very carefully at bills whose supporters call "adoptee birthright bills" or "open records bills". Anymore, often they are anything but. Read the fine print and beware.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I don't live in Rhode Island.

How on earth are so many people allowed to interfere with these things that don't even apply directly to them?

It boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

At least in Ontario, the veto dies with the person.

No relatives are allowed to veto on behalf of anyone else when that happens nor are they allowed to veto unless they can prove that the person is mentally incompetent.

No vetoes at all are allowed to be filed for future adoptions, so they will die out eventually. Also, vetoes can and do get removed - people can change their minds.

I know that is not perfect.

The province of Ontario went further than any other government that I know of to get open records. They took it to court when 3 adoptees and an alleged father (who denied paternity ) filed against open records.

Not one mother objected in that court room to open records.
Not one!

All Canadian provincial governments are now tied by the constitutional ruling by Judge Belobaba who is considered (believe or not) a liberal judge.
His judgement affects all of Canada.

There is nothing more any of the Canadian provinces can do to get rid of the disclosure veto.

I feel that the Ontario government took it as far as it could.

I don't know of any other governments who went to bat in the law courts for completely open records the way the Ontario government did. If any other state or province has, it would be interesting to hear about it.

Anonymous said...

Is granting a restraining order to someone simply because they want it a good idea? Is it even constitutional?

Toff

Anonymous said...

Please note it was the
3 *adoptees* that wanted the vetoes, not the mothers in the Ontario case.

Most people don't count the father as he has denied paternity, he has not taken any paternity test and it was a desperate attempt to get any parent in on the case, no matter how flimsy. Even the judge was not so sure he should be there.

Anyway, as I said before, it was 3 adoptees that demanded the vetoes, not the mothers.

If adoptees as a whole can't get their act together with some demanding vetoes, how is anyone else going to take them seriously?

With the economic crisis, the OBC issues will slide down the list of priorities and the politicians will look at cases like Ontario and point out that adoptees want vetoes too.

earth mother said...

anon: "I'm glad I don't live in Rhode Island." (nice place to live--just don't get born and adopted here if you can help it..E/Mother)

"How on earth are so many people allowed to interfere with these things that don't even apply directly to them?"

How? well, here's one recipe:

take one powerful Senator (get the kind who is also the adoptive father of an only child--now an adult with her own family)

soak this guy in fear and ignorance for about 20 years

add in several RI adoptees who are willing to sacrifice rights for privleges to 'help' thousands upon thousands find what they're looking for...now.

mix in some RI adoptive parents who want to help the thousands upon thousands of adoptees who might die without "accurate health history"....today.

stir in a heaping load of impatience and a sprinkle of old fashioned Bull crap.

top it off with legislative leadership with no trace of ANY back bone....

and voila! You have a convoluted compromise bill that "protects" B/Parents to infinity and beyond !

You git all the right stuff t'gether and it's a piece o' cake.
( a rotten cake tho--I'll pass on it .)