|Jane (center) and friends showing solidarity in red in WA|
So who's driving this birth-mother veto nonsense? None other than a birth mother Sen. Ann Rivers, who blocked a birth-certificate access bill last year
when she was in the state House. While she's out of the closet, she apparently feels compelled to encourage other mothers to lock themselves in. Sen. Rivers is setting up Washington-born adoptees for double rejection, once when their mother left them in the care of biological strangers, and once when she files a veto to deny her child access to his original birth certificate. What's behind all this madness? Only Sen. Rivers can answer this. And why is adoptee Orwall selling out, not only allowing but actively participating, in this effort to heap more abuse on a group already marginalized, and of which she is a member?
|Rep. Tina Orwall|
Washington law currently allows adult adoptees born after October, 1993 to have their original birth certificates provided their birth mother does not file a veto. The first veto was filed in June, 2012, almost 20 years later. This veto appears to be an attempt to simply to de-rail adoptee-rights legislation.
We hope Orwall's voice was drowned out by the other testimony heard last week. Along with adoptees, adoptive parents, child welfare workers and other first parents--32 in all--I attended the hearing and was among those who testified before the Washington Human Services and Corrections Committee. Many of us are in Olympia again today for a hearing on the bill in the House.
At the hearing last week, Penni Johnson, leader of WA-CARE, a group dedicated to the unrestricted right of adoptees to have their original birth certificates, and other adoptees testified eloquently about the need to know their families, and to connect if mutually agreed upon. One man told of the joy of knowing his natural brother who was in the audience; adoptive parents Marlene and Richard Funk, told of wanting this for their children. Deborah Myers, a birth mother representing the American Adoption Congress argued for unrestricted access to original birth certificates as did representatives from Washington Adoption Reunion Movement (WARM). Lori Lippold of Partners for Our Children listed national organizations specializing in adoption including the Child Welfare League of America, the Donaldson Adoption Institute and the National Association of Social Workers which support access to original birth certificates. Lori Jeske, of Bastard Nation, noted the irony that in Washington gays can marry, and soon residents will be able to legally smoke marijuana in their backyards, but the state continues to deny adoptees the fundamental right to know their true identities.
Passing a clean bill (without a veto) should be a no-brainer. The neighboring state of Oregon has allowed adoptees to have their original birth certificates since 2000, due to a ballot measure passed in 1998 and upheld by the Oregon Court of Appeals. There have been no problems with the implementation of this measure. In the ten-year report of the measure in 2010, there were 10,151 unamended birth certificates were given to Oregon adoptees; only 85 no-contact vetoes were in place, nearly all of the filed at the time the bill passed as an attempt to block the measure in the courts. The far north neighbor, Alaska, never sealed birth certificates.
But in politics nothing is simple. Washington, the home Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, and Amazon has a reputation for being progressive, yet the legislature clings on to a mid-century view of adoption: protect the fallen woman from her shame, even when the shame is six feet tall and wants nothing more than to know the woman who gave birth to him.-- jane
Rep. Tina Orwall
Sen. Ann Rivers
Washington representative sell adoptees and birth mothers short
Adoption Politics: Bastard Nation and Ballot Initiative 58 "The passage of Measure 58 in Oregon in 1998 was a milestone in adoption reform. For the first time in U.S. history a grassroots initiative restored the legal right of adopted adults to request and receive their original birth certificates. Within a day after the law went into effect, nearly 2,400 adoptees had applied for these previously sealed records, elevating their right to know over a birth mother's right to privacy.
E. Wayne Carp, a nationally respected authority on adoption history, now reveals the efforts of the adoptee rights organization Bastard Nation to pass this milestone initiative. He has written an intimate history of a passionately proposed and opposed initiative that has the potential to revolutionize the adoption reform movement nationwide."--Amazon
And for a thorough history the "secrecy and disclosure" in adoption throughout the country, see Carp's excellent book, Family Matters: Secrecy and Disclosure in the History of Adoption.