Forever. Forever. For all time. From their descendants.
That's right, forever. The Bad Bill would set up an intermediary system, as already in place in Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland and elsewhere, a clumsy system that requires a state-appointed confidential intermediary to locate and contact first parents to request consent for adult adoptees to access their original birth certificate. This kind of system puts all adoptees under the psychological thumb of their first parents, no matter what, no matter how. Say your Dad was a priest and your Mom is deceased, and Father Strebzenski wants to keep his paternity secret from you, the child-now-adult. No problem--the state is going to protect his anonymity. All he has to do is say No. End of story.
Well, I suppose the law would "protect" first mothers who want to remain in the closet from their own children because they do not have the guts to confront their own flesh-and-blood, it must be guilt that keeps them locked up--but that's like offering a loophole to slave owners who protested the end to slavery. You don't like emancipation? You say it will end the economy based on the backs of slaves? Well, you can just opt out! Sign up today!
That's the kind of offer the "alternative" bill being pushed in New Jersey makes to first parents. It's rather sickening, but here is how the bill's sponsor, Joan Quigley put it in an Op-ed piece on NJ.com:
"Some birth mothers had traumatic circumstances of rape or incest surrounding their pregnancies. Others feared for their own or their child’s safety. Still others — girls I knew growing up in the 1950s — entered into adoption under pressure and were told that 'no one would ever find out.'
"In Trenton, we don’t see or hear from these women because speaking out would jeopardize the very privacy they wish to protect. But their circumstances should not be disregarded, nor their rights betrayed."Well, a lot of us fall into this category, I was a girl in the 1950s--but instead of being promised that we would never be "found out," this kind of stupid secrecy was foisted upon us WHEN OUR CHILDREN WERE ADOPTED. Not when they were relinquished. As the law was written, we were promised nothing of the sort Ms. Quigley claims when we signed the surrender papers; the child is stripped of his original identity when he is adopted.
Of course, many powers that be are lined up against adopted people in New Jersey: the Bar Association, the Catholic Conference of Bishops, NJ American Civil Liberties Union, and the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry are all invested in protecting their clients, the adoptive parents from dealing with the reality that their children were born to other people, carry other people's DNA, look like they belong in another family. But instead of admitting that is at the heart of their objections to giving adopted persons their civil right to own their own identities, they hide behind he skirts of first mothers like me and Jane.
In her personal crusade to deny adoptees their civil rights in New Jersey, the head of the New Jersey ACLU, Deborah Jacobs, has written an opinion piece calling the restrictive bill as "win-win." I'd like to strip her of knowledge of her own heritage for a day and see if she sees matters differently. The good news is that at least a few chapters of the ACLU, in Michigan and Florida, are beginning to see the light and support adoptee rights:
"... the ACLU believes that laws suppressing information about adoptees and/or their birthparents, and laws allowing access to such information only upon consent or registration, or laws allowing access to such information only upon court order, deny adopted persons, their birthparents, and their relatives equal protection of the laws and constitutes unwarranted interference by the government with the right of people to choose whether to associate.”As we have written before about the situation in New Jersey, the other bill is less than perfect because it still gives first parents absolute rights to deny their adult children knowledge of who they were at birth. It allows them to file a denial for the release of their names on the original birth certificate, but only in the first year after passage.
But A1046, the one promoted by the people who have been on the ground in New Jersey, does not involve an outside party, an intermediary whose cost will be born by the adoptee, and after twelve months, first parents would no longer be able to legally object to the release of their names on copy of the original birth certificates given adoptees who ask for them. All first parents--past, present and future---retain the right to file a "contact preference" form at any time, and change it as they wish, as they do in Alabama, New Hampshire, Oregon and Maine. Though we have reservations about this bill, we believe that in the larger scope of human rights, this bill ought to be passed, since it appears it is best the New Jersey lawmakers are capable of after decades of lobbying. Some people simply can not understand that an individual's right to know who he is, who he was at birth--should be an absolute right and anything less than that is a unjust --lorraine
For a comparison of the two bills, please see our permanent pages, listed on the sidebar or click here. And do find a way to stand up at be counted in New Jersey. See NJCare for how and leave comments at the opinion pieces above. We will win this war, one state at a time. But not without your support.