|Washington Adoptee Rights Advocates in Olympia|
WASHINGTON ALLOWS OBC ACCESS--WITH A VETO
Washington Gov. Jay Inselee signed HB 1525 bill into law last week allowing Washington-born adoptees access to their original birth certificates unless their first parents file an objection. Objections expire upon the death of first parents or when parents revise them to allow contact. Adoptees may check with the vital statistics office once a year (for a fee, of course) to find out if their objecting parent has died.
Penni Johnson and the the folks from the Washington Coalition for Adoptee Rights and Equality (WA-CARE) have vowed to return to the state capital, Olympia, and lobby for a bill removing the first-parent veto. They want a law like that of Oregon and other more enlightened states which allow first mothers to state a contact preference, but do not give them the power to prevent adoptees from obtaining their original birth certificates altogether. Most mothers who file a "contact preference," which allows for direct contact or through an intermediary, opt for contact, not against it.
PERPETUATES INEQUITABLE ANONYMITY Irrational fear is driving first-parent veto provision in the Washington law, as well as other laws and bills throughout the country. Legislators assume that adoptees will ignore contact preferences asking for no contact, and will use information from their original birth certificates to ominously "track down" their first mothers, exposing their mothers' deeply held secrets and harassing them. This has not happened in Oregon and other states which have passed bills which do not include a veto, or as they are known. "clean bills." Two Washington legislators running around the state publicizing the veto, however, will give the impression that indeed, mothers may have something to fear from their offspring.
Some of this attitude comes from the fact that a great many social workers and family members counseled young women who "got in trouble," that they had the option of never telling anyone and could make their lives after relinquishment one that did not hold this sordid "secret." Some of these women obviously followed that dictum, and here we are today. But a secret exposed and someone's embarrassment is no reason to deny anyone's identity.
The Boy Scouts of America's unstated reason for banning gays as leaders is the fear that gay leaders may molest boys in their charge or that fearing molestation, parents will withdraw their sons from scouting. No question BSA should take measures to prevent abuse--which it has not done in the past resulting in multi-million judgments against it--but it needs to target wrong-doers, not ban all gays because some are child molesters. Further, by keeping the gay leader ban in place, BSA is reinforcing the notion that children have reason to fear gay leaders.
Likewise, mothers can obtain restraining orders and file criminal complaints against offspring, adopted or non-adopted, who harasses them. But it's wrong to allow first parents to bar adoptees from obtaining information because some might misuse it. First parent vetoes reinforce the notion that first parents have something to fear.
OREGON ALLOWS ACCESS TO ADOPTION COURT FILES
On a happier note, the Oregon legislature is expected to pass SB 623 which allows adoptees 18 and over to obtain their court files except for the home study. The bill also makes it easier for first parents to obtain court orders allowing them to access portions of the court file which include their child's adoptive name and the names of his or hers adoptive parents. And that is nothing short of a miracle. For details on this bill see Opening court records to adoptees and first parents.--Jane ____________________________
Gov. Inslee signs bill giving adoptees more access to birth records
Opening birth records: States of fame (OR, OH) and shame (WA)
American Dilemma: What happened to one's right to know one's birth parents?
Adopted People Are Not Allowed Ancestry Because It Might Upset Somebody
How shame keeps birth mothers from embracing reunion
Good Girls Don't "For anyone who wants to understand the societal pressures, secrecy and shame that surrounds young, unwed mothers in the 1950's (and for several decades beyond that) this book should help their understanding of these times. Even in today's more sexually liberal world, there are societal pressures to give up your baby for adoption 'for the good of everyone involved'".--From the CUB Communicator. Written by Goldie Hawn's sister.
Jessica Lost: A Story of Birth, Adoption & The Meaning of Motherhood
"A mother and her child, lost and then found again after four decades: this extraordinary story of love, loss, and reunion is told in alternating voices by the two women, each relating her own powerful experience. For the mother, it's the tale of an unhappy marriage followed by betrayal, a pregnancy of uncertain paternity, and the heartrending decision to give up her newborn. The daughter's search begins 40 years later, as she slowly, painstakingly, stitches together her story. These intertwined tales give us two unforgettable points of view of a remarkable journey-and of the multiple meanings of motherhood." Amazon